Sunday, September 29, 2013

On God's Unconditional Love: "I've been looking for you."

Few stories can move me the way this one can.

You might particularly appreciate it if you've been feeling or have ever felt like maybe you don't deserve God's love, or feel lost or stranded in life. And now I quote from here, in the words of Jeffrey R. Holland:
I share with you an account by my friend and BYU colleague, the late Clyn D. Barrus. I do so with the permission of his wife, Marilyn, and their family. 
Referring to his childhood on a large Idaho farm, Brother Barrus spoke of his nightly assignment to round up the cows at milking time. Because the cows pastured in a field bordered by the occasionally treacherous Teton River, the strict rule in the Barrus household was that during the spring flood season the children were never to go after any cows who ventured across the river. They were always to return home and seek mature help. 
One Saturday just after his seventh birthday, Brother Barrus’s parents promised the family a night at the movies if the chores were done on time. But when young Clyn arrived at the pasture, the cows he sought had crossed the river, even though it was running at high flood stage. Knowing his rare night at the movies was in jeopardy, he decided to go after the cows himself, even though he had been warned many times never to do so. 
As the seven-year-old urged his old horse, Banner, down into the cold, swift stream, the horse’s head barely cleared the water. An adult sitting on the horse would have been safe, but at Brother Barrus’s tender age, the current completely covered him except when the horse lunged forward several times, bringing Clyn’s head above water just enough to gasp for air. Here I turn to Brother Barrus’s own words: 
“When Banner finally climbed the other bank, I realized that my life had been in grave danger and that I had done a terrible thing—I had knowingly disobeyed my father. I felt that I could redeem myself only by bringing the cows home safely. Maybe then my father would forgive me. But it was already dusk, and I didn’t know for sure where I was. Despair overwhelmed me. I was wet and cold, lost and afraid.
“I climbed down from old Banner, fell to the ground by his feet, and began to cry. Between thick sobs, I tried to offer a prayer, repeating over and over to my Father in Heaven, ‘I’m sorry. Forgive me! I’m sorry. Forgive me!’ 
“I prayed for a long time. When I finally looked up, I saw through my tears a figure dressed in white walking toward me. In the dark, I felt certain it must be an angel sent in answer to my prayers. I did not move or make a sound as the figure approached, so overwhelmed was I by what I saw. Would the Lord really send an angel to me, who had been so disobedient? 
“Then a familiar voice said, ‘Son, I’ve been looking for you.’ In the darkness I recognized the voice of my father and ran to his outstretched arms. He held me tightly, then said gently, ‘I was worried. I’m glad I found you.’ 
“I tried to tell him how sorry I was, but only disjointed words came out of my trembling lips—‘Thank you … darkness … afraid … river … alone.’ Later that night I learned that when I had not returned from the pasture, my father had come looking for me. When neither I nor the cows were to be found, he knew I had crossed the river and was in danger. Because it was dark and time was of the essence, he removed his clothes down to his long white thermal underwear, tied his shoes around his neck, and swam a treacherous river to rescue a wayward son.” 
My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.” On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.
...I find so much deep truth in that story.

Sometimes I get in a rut of feeling like a disobedient little kid who's screwed up a little, or sometimes a lot, and doesn't deserve much heavenly help or attention. Sometimes I feel like I had good intentions like the little boy who just wanted a movie night, and yet still managed to screw up the task at hand and found myself stranded in a sticky spot. Sometimes I feel ashamed for getting myself there, and wish I had my own way to fix it but feel powerless to do so.

This story came to mind today and reminded me that, in my moments of trial and distress, when I'm in over my head, stranded on the other side of a flooded river and feeling lost or afraid...even if it's my own fault for being there...God still comes for me. In those moments, when He sees me wandering and worries about where I am and if I'll make it back, it doesn't matter to Him how or why I'm there, all that matters to Him is that one of His children is lost and afraid...and so He comes. He comes and gets me and reminds me that He's been looking for me all along.

"I was worried. I'm glad I found you."

Friday, September 27, 2013

A&A: Dad Joke Flirting & King Bloodaxe

▲ California is a hands free state, and I'm not a believer in texting while driving anyway. So color me surprised the other day when I was sitting at a long red light and picked up my phone to switch the music....and a man on a bicycle, also waiting at the light, reached over and PUNCHED the hood of my car and motioned for me to put my phone down. Yikes, man. Speaking of hands free, mind your own business and don't touch my car. ("Don't punch...our car." that quote.)
▲ That one brief moment when AZ was colder than CA. What? I suspect this will happen more come winter when our seasons even out.
▲ The other day I saw old men fishing in the park. Mind you, not a park with water. They were just practicing their the grass. (Admittedly this could easily make the awesome list as well.)
▲ I'm fairly certain I got hit on with a cheesy "dad joke" the other night by a guy who definitely looked to be of a fatherly age. #no #justno #imonly26man
▲ This I Recycle Boys t-shirt. Please read the comments on the photo and enjoy.
▲ That one time when a company failed greatly at some target marketing on twitter and hit me with this gem: “@NatalieSalonMP: @K8Ehawkes Congrats on your engagement! When's the big day?” ....YOU TELL ME, GUYS. #nooneputaringonit
▲ Really terrible lyrics from the newest Backstreet Boys album. Including: "You're the reason why cave men drew on the walls, The reason why after every summer we fall" and "When the game's on, You wear the jersey of my favorite team, I yell at the TV, Knock over your beer, You're not even mad at me." And let's not forget the song titled "Always Be My One Phone Call," in which BSB extols the virtues of prison romance. Or something about a prison/breakup metaphor? #WHATISTHIS

▲ That one time when I met a hedgehog. And oh.em.golly I am in t-r-u-e l-o-v-e with it. #mfeo
▲ Kayla at Freckles in April wrote a whole blog about liking my blog...and it warmed my heart. And made my week. #bloglove #blushing #warmfuzzied
▲ The other day I saw a homeless man running and pushing his shopping cart of goods at full speed, leap forward on top of the pile of things, straddle the cart and ride down the street with his hands in the air Dances With Wolves style. It was then impossible to have a bad day.
▲ I like filling out wedding address request forms because I give myself middle names like "Sparkles" and "Pegasus." Come at me, good mail.
▲ The Endomondo app....if you're into running, it's uh-mazing. It works like Runkeeper, but you can connect with friends and see when they're out running. MEANING, you can type pep talks into the app and it will read it to them through their headphones while they're out running. It's hilarious and so perfectly distracting/motivating while you're out running. Plus, it's free! If you get it, let me know. We will connect and I will send you pep talks...probably nonsense poetry and much use of the phrase "go get 'em you sexy beast." (Camille I'm looking at you. Please join.)
▲ This news story about a kid who donated $10.03 to a police station. "If every person would do that we would have such a great world." ...amen, kid.
▲ These classical sculptures dressed as hipsters.
▲ This article on befriending loneliness. I love the poem at the top, especially the part about embracing loneliness because the missing parts of your heart/life make you realize how much you need God.
▲ And above ALL ELSE...this week my sister discovered that we have ancient Viking relatives with names like Eric Bloodaxe. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS EVER AGAIN. Apparently ol' Bloodaxe was also king of Norway (where I've randomly been dying to visit anyway) and had a debatably evil witch for a wife name Gunnhildr. Also, someone created a picture of him online:


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Moo Business Card Giveaway!

"Business cards should be a conversation starter." -Moo

So, I am a big fan of Moo. I've had jobs in the past where we ordered business cards from them, and the quality was always A++. It's not just the printing itself; it's the PAPER. We're talking thick, quality business cards. Yessss. (You can win some below, keep reading.)

When they contacted me about reviewing a set of Moo cards, I was totally tickled about the idea. I combed carefully through the website and immediately set my sights on the Paper Jam line from The Luxe Project. There was something wonderfully delicious about the idea of my personal business cards touting phrases and lyrics from thug songs I probably don't listen to anyway. It still seemed to suit me, somehow.

I couldn't be happier with the result!
...the paper is high-quality and thick, the lyrics make me laugh, the ink is bold and rich. Win! My only critique is that the text on each card is slightly off-center. Not enough to drive me crazy, but I definitely noticed it as I was looking through my cards. (I took them on a little photoshoot through Napa Valley during Ragnar until it started raining too much to take pics of all of them. Hence the two amazing pics and then the rest with my bedroom carpet as the background, haha)

Good news, you can win some Moo cards too! many things rhymed in that sentence. The prize is a set of 50 Classic Business Cards, and the competition is open worldwide (they do ship internationally). Here's the Rafflecopter widget to enter, so have at it! The giveaway ends on Friday, October 4.

a Rafflecopter giveaway'll notice I used my Instagram and Twitter accounts as entry options. I've been finding a great outlet in those accounts lately and they've become almost like little micro-blogs of my life. I get to share the funny details and all the things I don't have room for on my blog. So, I'd be happy to have you join me on those platforms if you're not sick of hearing from me on here already :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

We ran 200 miles and called ourselves Kevin Bacon.

Good grief I love me some Ragnar.

Ragnar Relay = 12 team members, two vans, 30ish hours, 200-ish miles, no-ish sleeping, and...ridiculous amounts of fun.

If you've been around for awhile, you'll remember that I've done this before (once in a Lego costume and once as Big Bird). I can safely say it was easier doing this without a bulky costume. I ran with new people this time, and we ran in regular running clothes (I love you spandex) and rocked some Kevin Bacon t-shirts designed by my talented bestie. (We were originally Team Footloose and I was like "ehhh let's target that a little more...KEVIN BACON!")

I'm currently still experiencing a Ragnar hangover, symptoms of which include fatigue, a confused stomach, disorientation, stiffness, sore toenails, severe separation anxiety from my van buddies...

Did I mention it rained...a lot? I think I ran through a waterfall for a few miles. And up a hill. And there was mud? It's all hazy. (See the aforementioned disorientation.)

What I CAN tell you is that I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

I seriously love the validation of a running event. All the training has its highs and lows, but then you're there and it's like....I'm one of these people. I am doing something really hard and loving it. I love being around the hundreds of people who are in the same boat. It's like this amazing, tangible group energy. And, it's totally addictive.

And seriously, does it get any prettier than Napa Valley? I mean, we could have done without all the rolling hills, but dang...the scenery was superb.

Now you may enjoy some photos. I'm off to keep recuperating.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mormon Women & The Priesthood: On Not Mocking Another Person's Battle

I've been trying to formulate my own thoughts into a blog post about the growing movement of Mormon women wanting to be ordained to the priesthood in our church. I couldn't quite get my words straight, but then this blog post did it for me:

For reals, read it. The writer, Mel, really nails my thoughts so well. (And she quotes/links to Kylee's awesome post on the same topic that is definitely worth clicking through to as well. Preach, sister.)

THIS is what matters most to me in Mormonism, reflected in Mel's article:
"What really concerns me though, what has caused me to speak on this issue, is the appalling hatefulness aimed at Mormon feminists and at the Ordain Women movement. Hatefulness that is being spewed forth from the mouths of men and women (I especially abhor that it's coming from other women) of the church. It is wholly unchristian and needs to stop immediately...I don't believe that it is a sin to express concerns, doubts, and questions. While some are too hesitant to embrace faith in the face of uncertainty, others are too quick to feel threatened and condemn others for asking questions and expressing concerns."
THAT is a religious statement I can put an amen behind...not the mocking, laughter, or eye-rolling of fellow church members, at a topic that is obviously important to some women. Where is the gospel in that, friends?

A dismissive, spiteful reaction to someone else's struggle hurts my heart so much more than a crowd of women wanting to attend Priesthood session hurts me.

How dare we call each other's testimonies into question. It's not our place. (Throwback to my blog throwdown of the summer: The Problem Mormon Women Need to Worry About More than Bikinis)

Please remember: just because someone's battle isn't your personal battle, it doesn't mean it isn't important.

Just because you're happy with your current female role and the church the way it is (and power to you, carry on), doesn't mean someone else lacks a testimony because they question or seek change, or talk or dress or believe or act differently than the norm. (Remember how I feel about the value of hard religious questions.) Let us be kind, ladies and gents. To quote Kylee:
"I do not agree with everything they have to say and my heart and head are not as concerned about some of their deepest and impassioned causes. As I am sure they are not concerned with some of the things that consume my heart. However, because they are my sisters, their pains and their concerns, matter to me. This is part of my baptismal covenant."
THAT is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Right there. Like Kylee, the question of ordaining women isn't my personal battle either -- it's not an issue I think about or worry about often or ever. But kindness and community are hot topics, for me. And now I'll end with one of my favorite quotes of all time, because I really feel the gospel in these words:

"I think if you have a heart like unto God’s own heart, you are interested in little things that may not be important to a lot of other people but would be very important to the person involved." Vaughn J. Featherstone

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Look, I know I'm forever late to the game with this one because people have been raving about it for many moons now, but you know, better late than never. AND OH.EM.GOLLY, YOU GUYS. THIS BOOK.

I had some Amazon gift card moneys to splurge, so I went for this book and my copy arrived on my porch yesterday evening. I sat down at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal at 11pm and started reading...and didn't budge from the hard chair until I finished the last page at 2am, with an empty cereal bowl and tears/glitter-eyeliner/snot on my t-shirt sleeve because, man, that book. It was a wonderfully youthful-katie-like experience, e.g. the type of irresponsible habit that simultaneously keeps me young and will probably kill me early at some point. (I regret nothing, not even the snot.)

This book untied me a little bit.
(Don't worry, no spoilers here that you won't pick up from the back of the book.)

It's all about a teenage girl with terminal cancer, falling in love for the first time. I half expected the whole "cancer love story" to manipulate my emotions anyway, but I also found myself crying at just like...the most random things. My favorite thing about this book was the CHARACTERS. I kept identifying with the main girl, Hazel, and I have a crazy literary crush on her love interest, Augustus. (What teenager is named Augustus? This one. Aptly.)

The best books are the ones that put into words things you didn't even know about yourself.

And boy did this one. I actually cried less about the cancer, and more about the parts that revealed pieces of me to myself. So, I know I'm not a teenage girl with cancer. But the way Hazel approaches love....I was like, "Oh crap, that's me." The other day I was thinking about my fear of hurting people and how that sometimes holds me back in dating. Hazel does that in this book -- she tries to wall Augustus out because she doesn't want him to fall in love with a dying girl. She doesn't want to be responsible for hurting him.

"When I try to look at you like that, all I see is what I'm going to put you through. Maybe that doesn't make sense to you." (*raises hand* I hear you Hazel)

The thing is, I'm really good at loving people. I'm really, painfully good at it. But I'm good at it to a fault, especially when it comes to dating. This book reminded me what other people have tried to tell me: that I need to give people permission to be vulnerable in my hands now and again. I have to let them choose it just like I choose who I want to love, too.

"Oh, I wouldn't mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you."

So there's the rub. This book made me feel more ok and more not ok than I've felt in awhile, but maybe in a way I really really needed. I can't more highly recommend it.

And now here's a pile of my favorite quotes, which probably aren't spoilers but will likely resonate with anyone else who's read this book:

  • "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt."
  • "The diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die."
  • "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."
  • "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."
  • "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things."
  • "I hadn't realized he'd thought about the book so much, that An Imperial Affliction mattered to Gus independent of me mattering to him." (Because isn't that the best? When your favorites matter to someone else, and not just because they like you? But because they also love the favorite thing?)
  • "I'll write you an epilogue."
  • "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities." (Dear gosh, how true that is. Sometimes a day or a couple months can stick with me and matter like it was years of my life. A bigger infinity, like the space between 1 and 2 is just as infinite as the space between 1 and a million.)
  • "It's primarily his hotness." "It can be sort of blinding." "It actually did blind our friend Isaac."
  • "Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
  • "She is so beautiful. You don't get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her...You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."
  • "Writing does not resurrect. It buries." (This one, I love. I believe writing resurrects AND buries, but still. Such words.)

Have you read it? Thoughts? Other book recs?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Dreams of Trees

"When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold, Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold." J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A&A: Spoti-Spy & The Final Frontier

▲ Last week, two separate people texted me screenshots of Spotify telling them that "Katie has been listening to a lot of Sara Bareilles lately." It's like Spotify thinks it knows my emotional cries for help. Back off my business, Tattle-fy...Spoti-Spy....nickname options are abundant. (...also please don't tell anyone about all the Taylor Swift yesterday.)
▲ Why isn't corn a vegetable. Do you think corn and Pluto ever hang out and think, "Man, labels."
▲ Last night I was standing with a small group of people and one girl told me I reminded her a lot of someone. I immediately responded, "Ooh, is she totally great?" ....cue dead silence and shocked stares and me feeling oddly conceited. You know those moments when your sense of humor falls totally flat?
▲ These mostly cute but occasionally terrifying animal mashups, especially the elephant frog.
▲ Two days ago I thought I heard my next door neighbor choking through the window and I got nervous and ran outside, only to hear them begin vomiting. One of those, "Should I check on a stranger or let them have their space" moments. I went with space.
▲ Close standers. As a general rule, I only want people standing very close me if a) we're really good friends, b) they're my boyfriend, c) they're a medical professional, or d) they're my boyfriend and a medical professional.

▲ Proof that some people just do Craigslist marketing right, and that rambling Narnia hashtags are the best hashtags.
▲ This Posthumous Advice for my Daughter letter warms my heart, maybe because one of my besties is oh-so-British? I swear my Chantalion could have written that exact letter to me and I wouldn't bat an eye.
▲ 36 years after its launch, the Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. THE FINAL FRONTIER, YOU GUYS. That little pioneer is 11.7 billion miles from home. So, so friggin cool. Phrases like this put the goosebumps on my arms: "The vast nothingness between stars that used to be beyond our reach."
▲ New Jersey decided to grant sick children access to medical marijuana. (Story here.) I am a long-time supporter of legalizing medical marijuana. A natural remedy with about zero side effects vs. the synthetic, horrible side-effect inducing pain pills we regularly pop in hospitals without a second thought? How have we not caught up to this sooner? Amen.
▲ The blog Cup of Jo did a series of guests posts about parenting in other countries, from Ireland to Congo to Abu Dhabi. I loved them! I think it's so good to question the "norm" and draw the good from all cultures. The biggest theme I noticed is that it's less shameful in some other countries to ask for help with mothering. Nannies, housekeepers, etc. are much more common overseas. I wish our largely stressed-out mama population in the U.S. had easier access to that kind of thing!
▲ This:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Giveaway for a Cause: Freedom is a Beautiful Thing

I'm picky about my giveaways, but this one passes the test.

Every time I hear about sex trafficking, my tummy turns over a few times. It's so ridiculously prevalent, even in U.S. cities. So when Suzzie contacted me about participating in a group giveaway for a tote bag from Stop Traffick Fashion, it immediately piqued my interest.

Here's a little about the organization, in their own words:
At Stop Traffick Fashion, we’re all about women around the world....Started in 2009, Stop Traffick Fashion provides opportunities and hope for survivors of human trafficking, while offering you stunning ethical fashion. Survivors and those at-risk of human trafficking make all of our products and are paid a fair wage for their work. This empowers them to create a sustainable income and live a free, happy life. In addition, a portion of all sales revenue is donated back to organizations that rescue victims and provide rehabilitation and training for victims of human trafficking. So whatever you buy, from T-shirts to handbags to jewelry, you’re helping someone make a fresh, free start in life—and freedom is a beautiful thing.
Definitely something I can get behind.

Please be sure to check out all their merch right here, and enter the giveaway below for a chance to win the Beautiful Thing tote. (You can read more about the tote and one of the women who helps make them right here.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Indian Summer & Seabright Beach

So there's this little thing called Indian Summer, apparently.

Aaand it's totally happening right now in the Bay Area. July and August were weirdly cold for this AZ girl, but now that the fog (Karl the Fog, they call him) is leaving, there's this surprising, blessedly warm month of September. I can't say I mind. The roomie and I blasted my oldies playlist on Saturday and took full advantage of it with a little trip to Seabright Beach.

....and it doesn't hurt that we happened upon a lighthouse, and "touch a lighthouse" was an item on my bucket list. Check! Now I just have to pull off "sleep inside a lighthouse." Working on it.


"We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining -- they just shine." Dwight L. Moody

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Movie Trailer: The Book Thief

This book undoes me in all the best and worst ways. I'm going to go ahead and throw down the word extraordinary.

All it took was one read, a few years ago, and it easily solidified its place in the top 3 books I've ever read. I think I even bestow it the #1 spot now and again, depending on my mood. It's really just that good. I finished reading it on an airplane (can't remember where I was going) and openly wept in the window seat. (Last night I thumbed through some of the last chapters and it happened again. I think it might be scientifically unavoidable.)

When I heard about the trailer from Ali yesterday I quickly melted into a puddle of excitement and emotional angst. I had a moment of hesitation about it becoming a movie because one of the BEST things about the book is the truly magical, unique way it's written. It's told from Death's perspective, and I'm not sure if/how they will portray that in the movie. And the unconventional, random formatting and narrative asides -- those all add to the perfect charm of it all.

However, I decided it can still work as a movie because this book is a double whammy -- the writing style AND the plot line are both perfection to me. So even if the writing style probably won't come through perfectly in the movie, the story and characters alone are enough to emotionally wreck me. And so I'm calling it good, labeling my anticipation as pure excitement (and preparation for a long recovery period and several viewings), and keeping the trailer's tab open on my browser....indefinitely.

Join me:

"He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry." -  pg. 531, on Rudy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hunger, Poverty & the Problem with "Just Get a Job"

Did you know 1 in 6 Americans struggle to put meals on the table?

That's millions and millions of people. Millions of children. That number should be ZERO. Hunger is not a foreign, third-world problem. It's right here in our own backyards, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces.

Luckily, September is Hunger Action Month! 

I had the chance to do some freelance writing recently that exposed me to troubling facts about hunger and reminded me of my nonprofit career days. Regardless of political views, I think we can all agree that millions of children shouldn't be going hungry -- children who spend their nights, weekends and summers with empty bellies when they're not in school. Thinking about that breaks my heart right in half. Whatever your political views, wherever you live, consider finding a way to help end hunger in a way that feels personally significant to you.

I often hear statements like "why don't they just get a job," in reference to issues of hunger and poverty.

Coming from someone who just experienced firsthand how utterly demoralizing unemployment can be (even with a college degree), it isn't so simple to just "get a job" -- especially one that actually pays the bills. Think someone can do that for a family on a McDonald's or janitorial paycheck? (Which also requires the assumption that there are infinite non-college-degree jobs of this nature to go around.) And single parents -- what about childcare so they can even get and keep one of those jobs? Life is expensive. Even with federal aid, the budget comes out to $29/week for food. I know I'd struggle to feed myself for $4 a day.

I remember meeting a family once who had just received help getting a home, and were able to eat dinner around a donated kitchen table -- for the first time ever. The single father could never buy a home or furniture before because he was trying to afford school to form more permanent solutions for his family and give his children opportunity. I also once met a man in a shelter whose family had left him after work injuries resulted in brain damage. His disability prevented him from working. How do you break that kind of cycle without help? How do you stick with school when your kids are going hungry and living in homeless sheltersKeep in mind, there is always more to the story than you see. There is never just one face or reason to hunger, and any one of us is just one bad accident or situation away from being in those shoes.

I realize that there will always be stories to illustrate that people abuse the welfare system. Personally, I'm not in the business of denying good to the majority because of abuse by the minority.

Group punishment for individual transgression -- ouch. I know there are awesome success stories (and glamorous movie plots) about people who worked their way out of poverty and got into college and made their millions -- but the reality is that lack of funding and quality education makes the cycle of poverty insurmountable for so many children in so many areas. How can you get into college when you can't read or do basic algebra, and there's not enough salary money to get an educator in there to teach you how? Stuck, is what you are, before you're even done with kindergarten -- forget the SATs. Do we really want to put blame and finger-pointing on what entire populations become because of what we hand them at age 5?

I'll be the first to say that growing up as a privileged white girl with good parents in a quality school district means I'm part of a narrow population that often points to narrow-minded solution to these issues that probably "make sense" from an outside perspective (e.g. "get a job" or "go to school"). I'm not attempting to propose any magic solutions to our education problems and what role government should play in that (I can't even say I've formed a complete opinion on it yet). I'm simply pointing out the fact that it is, in fact, a problem, and that "get a job" is not necessarily a helpful answer that fills hungry bellies.

But education is a side issue of what I mean to focus on: HUNGER.

If you lost your job tomorrow, would your kids eat next month? Or three months from now? I can't fathom how those millions of parents must feel. Again, do what moves you -- whatever that personally means for you -- but consider doing something this month...and the month after. If you disagree with a federal aid approach, you can probably still agree with a neighborly, individually charitable approach. Volunteer, donate, educate, advocate, feed, help, lift, love!

It doesn't require a shared political preference to share a heart on the idea that children shouldn't be going to bed hungry.

Here are some ideas of ways you can get involved in Hunger Action Month....go get 'em! (A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of local opportunities if none of these work for you.)
...if you know of other good ones, holler at me!