Alright, so I’m a hypocrite…ya’ happy now?!?

My friend Shara Lyn just moved to Haiti.  She’s officially a missionary now.  You should probably read her blog if you get a chance.  (And seriously…if you’re reading MY blog, you’ve GOT the time.)

I’ve known Shara Lyn since…what?  Fourth grade?  Fifth?  I don’t even remember anymore.  Short version is that we’re both getting old at the same time.  She is two months older than I am and still looks great.  I look like I should front a Neil Young cover band.  She wins.

I’ve known for a couple of months (since roughly when the Haitian earthquake that you haven’t heard anything about in the news lately happened—funny how time and public interest stories fly, huh?) that Shara Lyn was going to go to Haiti.  This isn’t one of those sad, sappy posts where I talk about missing my friend.  I mean, yeah…there’s some of that…but she lived in Indiana anyway, so it’s not like we saw each other every day.  With the advent of the Internet, the main way our relationship has changed is that her Facebook pictures are probably about to get a lot more scenic.

So what IS this post about?

It’s about money.

I’ll give you a second to recover from that wild left-turn.

…annnnnd we’re back.

Okay.  A lot of my readers (if any) probably have no idea how being a missionary works.  When someone makes the commitment to be a missionary, at least 99% of the time, it takes roughly the form of them getting the adequate passports, possibly work-visas (depending on the country, I think), etc, etc…a lot of the same stuff you’ve got to have in line for a vacation, but more serious than that.  That much, you probably already knew.  But, a missionary also needs to raise support money.  Rarely does a missionary move to a new country and receive payment directly from the church or organization that they work with while there.  A lot of people assume that’s how it works.  But missionaries actually go from church to church, friend to friend, and family member to family member asking for money, hoping that enough people sign up for recurring contributions to afford them a livable salary.  Some of them do very well.  Some scrape by, if they make it at all.  It’s a pretty big leap of faith.

Shara Lyn sent me a support letter.  I actually double-checked to make sure she was going to, because I was anxious to give.  As those who regularly read this blog (hi Dad) will know, I give a crap about Haiti and donated some money to one cause or another during the earthquake fallout (a lot of which is still going on, by the way).  When I heard that Shara Lyn was going to move there, I thought it was awesome and had every intention of sending a regular donation her way, thinking it was wonderful that not only do I get to send my money, I also get to send one of my oldest friends, who has had a profoundly, unspeakably huge impact on my own life and who I know will help to change the lives of others as well.

Shara’s support letter is STILL sitting in my briefcase.  I look at it pretty close to every day.  I have donated nothing.

I had been convincing myself that I didn’t have enough money to give a decent-sized one-time gift, or enough security to give a recurring gift.  Some of that, to be fair, is justified due to a few of the recent shake-ups in the insurance industry.  Pretty much everyone in my industry is packing some cash away for a rainy day, and my office is certainly no exception…  But then there’s me…I started a podcast about how much money I spend on crap.  I’d actually convinced myself that I didn’t have the money to give to a GOOD cause…yet I’ve got a copy of the first issue of the Darkwing Duck comic book re-launch less than 10 feet from me right now.

Can’t explain how much I feel like a complete dick right about now.

Short version is, I’ve been a complete hypocrite with my money on this one.  I HAVE the “expendable” income to throw a couple of bucks to a cause I believe in…  It might not be a recurring gift, but I can donate at LEAST randomly.  Or once.  Or something.  Someone I care about moved to a whole other country with a whole other language (with whole other cases of random civil and economic unrest, no less) to give everything she could to make the world a better place—and I know she’s going to be successful.  I didn’t give $20 damn dollars to help her do it.

I plan on changing that.  I think I’m going to have to wait until my next paycheck in a couple of weeks (this one gets pretty much eaten up by rent and by a credit-card payment, or I’d do it right now)…but I’m going to give SOMETHING.  This is a good cause—certainly better than the cause of fake truth and justice for which Batman fights in the most recent issue—and I can and should give SOMETHING to that.

If you’d like to do that, too.  You can click here (this is the group Shara Lyn’s working with) and click around to find options for donations—or they accept monetary donations to AHBZ, P.O. Box 45298, St. Louis, MO 63145.  They’re good people.  I actually know some of them.

The point is…if you’re as big a douche as I am…  Stop it.

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Quick bit of “other” news…  A guy I knew in college called today to ask me to be his bass player in his band that he describes as being influenced by Pearl Jam.  Considering it.

Just Saying…

I think anyone who’s come by my blog in the past year and/or read with any regularity knows that I’ve been pretty happy at my job.  I have never published the name of the business I work for on this blog because—well—I know some really crappy people (many of whom masquerade as “Christians”) that I KNOW have e-mailed people’s employers in the past for things they’ve written on Facebook or on their blog or whatever.  (Seriously, we’ve gotten to a point that someone can’t write, “I hate my job sometimes” on their Facebook page without some jackass reporting them to their boss.)  Now I don’t have any complaints to register, but nonetheless, I don’t want to take that risk if I can avoid it.  I also don’t want any of the ridiculous, sometimes irresponsible things I write to be in any way connected with my office and give the company I work for a bad name…so I don’t name them, and I’ve got a disclaimer over there in the margin that tells folks that my bosses don’t write for the blog.  It’s a shame that I’ve got to think this way…but that’s the world we live in.

But…all that being said…  I work for some really good people.  (And, to my knowledge, they do not read my blog, so this doesn’t count as sucking up.)  I’ve been at my job for just a little bit over a year and I don’t think I’ve felt more appreciated or fulfilled in my life.  I have absolutely NO ill-will toward the last place I worked and some of the folks I met while I was there are still the most important people in my life…but in all the time I was there, I think I can count the times I heard the phrase “good job” on one hand…and I didn’t really feel like my bosses expressed that they appreciated me until I was leaving—even when they promoted me, I don’t remember hearing the phrase, “Good job” or “Way to go big-shooter.”  (No offense to anyone there.  They weren’t OBLIGATED to do that, and they’re all busy folks…  I’m sure I WAS appreciated.  Saying it just kinda wasn’t on the top of the priority list.  I get that, and I’m not mad or bitter about it.  I actually feel a little bit bad about bringing it up…but it’s still true.)  In contrast, I’ve been regularly encouraged at my present job.  Even when I’ve done something incorrectly, I’ve felt like the correction was just that.  It was CORRECTION, not reprimand.

I won’t go into too much detail, because it was a nice thing that I don’t want to over-inflate to the point that it’s just a story or something like that…  But I have twice been encouraged and complimented by my employers in the past week in what I feel were pretty major ways.  And yeah, maybe I did something to deserve it (or maybe not…personally, I just feel like I do what I’m paid to do and I don’t ask for anything above or beyond my paycheck)…but in the same way as my LAST employers, my current bosses are under absolutely NO obligation to go out of their way to pay me a compliment or praise my work.  But they do.  Even when they KNOW I’m behind and struggling to catch up, I’ve not ever really been greeted with, “You’ve got to get it done!”  I’ve been greeted with, “Hang in there.  Keep going.  You’ll get it done.” 

I can’t begin to express how grateful I’ve been for the past year of my life.  Through whatever divine, karmic, or other force that’s allowed me to be so happy and so encouraged…it has not gone un-noticed or under-appreciated.  And I just wanted to share that.  And also, I just wanted to leave you with this thought…

There is NOTHING more encouraging than telling someone you believe in them.

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…and in what is pretty much the DEFINITION of anti-climactic…

Comic books purchased this week (to be reviewed in “Empty Checking” this weekend alongside some DVDs and music):

  • Joker’s Asylum II: “Clayface”
  • Batman Beyond #1 of 6
  • Captain America (The Heroic Age) #607
  • Captain America: The 1940’s Newspaper Strip – Issue #1 of 3