Thursday, November 24, 2022



Ask Amy: 

Ingratitude has reached epidemic proportions

Dear Amy: My friend recently got married. I understand that her life got crazy with everything surrounding the wedding.

Her mother threw her a three-day bachelorette party, held out of town.

Afterward, I don't think she even texted anyone a simple thank you. It would have been nice to know that she enjoyed the weekend or appreciated that we all showed up from all over the country.

I gave her a gift and never received an acknowledgment for that, either.

The big wedding day was a few weeks later. They ran out of funds for a videographer, so I volunteered.

I am a photographer, so this wasn't completely out of my realm, but it was the first go, for me, at making a video.

After spending months editing the pieces together (which was enormous and time-consuming), I had it finalized with sound and special effects. The results were amazing! Truly, a professional videographer would charge no less than $2,000 for what I turned in!

I don't care about the money (of course), but I'm just so surprised that all I received was a quick texted thank you. Her husband emailed me a nicer thanks, but even his email was only three sentences.

I don't know if it's unreasonable to expect a phone call from them?

Honestly, all of the lack of gratitude has sort of piled up, and I don't particularly feel like initiating yet another "offering," even if it's something as small as a phone call, to this friend. I feel really unappreciated and unacknowledged.

Put Upon

Put Upon: Of every issue I cover in my column, questions regarding the lack of gratitude seem to dominate.

Are we experiencing a gratitude deficit? Do people actually not feel gratitude? Do people lack the emotional tools to understand the connection between receiving something (a gift, a kindness, a nice gesture) and expressing their thanks? Can people not comprehend the joy of connection when they close the loop by saying, “Thank you”?

You feel unappreciated because you ARE unappreciated. A gift as consequential as a wedding video deserves a sincere expression of thanks — spoken or written (even if the couple didn’t like it, they should have thanked you for your effort). And a gift as consequential as your ongoing friendship also warrants an expression of gratitude.


Dear Amy: My husband and I loaned my niece and her husband $3,000 for their son's college bills. The college was getting ready to kick him out because of nonpayment. We had the money to loan out at the time, so we did it (with no promissory note). Big mistake!

When it came time to pay us back, my niece and her husband flipped the script! At first, he said he thought it was a gift. He later came back and said that it was indeed a loan. We agreed that they would pay us $50 a month. They made two payments and then stopped abruptly. Then they bad-mouthed my husband and me to other family members. Some family members took his side.

I was so hurt by this. I helped to raise my niece. Now I am ready to take her and her husband to small claims court. Doing this will air out our family business in this small town, but it can't be helped.

What do you think? We deserve our money back, right?

Broke in Arkansas

Broke in Arkansas: Yes, you deserve your money back. Although your verbal agreement constitutes an oral contract, I hope you also have some form of written communication between both parties acknowledging their agreement to repay you.

You might have to sue these family members in small claims court. Each state sets its own guidelines regarding the maximum amount you can sue for. According to my research, the upper limit in your state (Arkansas) is $5,000. (Check for more information).

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


"I can do without this!"
"I can do without this!"
"I can do without this!"


I believe that most of my eating for the next six weeks will be simply "because it's there!" Usually, there is not a lot of thought going into it. Whether it is another all-you-can-eat buffet, another box of homemade Christmas cookies and candy or another celebration breakfast, lunch or dinner, it seems that I am about to enter another "eating my way from Thanksgiving, through Christmas and into the New Year" tunnel that I always live to regret on New Year's Day! This far out, I can already hear my doctor saying, "Hey! Ron! You need to lighten up on the sugar!" 

It occurred to me that a lot of my eating, especially from now to Christmas, has at its root the tradition of "rewarding people with food." My mother always did it! My sisters used to do it when I visited them over the holidays! My friends do it! My parishioners did it! Their philosophy always seemed to be, "If you like somebody, feed them! If you like them a lot, feed them as much as you can!" 

When family and friends give you gift certificates for restaurants, big boxes of fudge or invitations to dinner to show their love, don't try to show your appreciation by accepting their gifts and eating as much of it as possible right there in front of them! Your last line of defense may be to ask for a "doggie bag" even if you don't have a "doggie!"  That's why "freezers" were invented! 

I usually fail miserably, but this year I am going to try to apply the brakes early when it comes to the amount I eat on any one occasion. Tasting a little of everything laid in front of me is better than trying to eat everything laid in front of me!! If I get three boxes of cookies, I will eat one cookie out of each box and serve the rest to my guests as fast as possible! When someone plans to give me a gift card and asks me what my favorite lunch restaurant is, I won't say "Panera's!" I'll say "Kroger's" because they sell vegetables and fruit there!  Another personal rule to implement starting at this time of the year is "don't bring it into the house!" This is especially important when it comes to ice cream. pastries and candies. I try to treat them like the addictive "drugs" they are! I don't trust myself being left alone with a half-gallon of ice cream or a pound bag of "M and M"s! 

Realize that you have a choice between suffering from a bit of abstinence now or suffering a lot later trying to get rid of all that weight! As they say, "A moment on a lips, forever on the hips!" Keeping weight off may be hard, but taking it off is even harder! Just stop and take a good hard look at it before you eat it and ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" Look before you leap! Think before you eat! 

Sunday, November 20, 2022



Above him was an inscription that read,

“This is the King of the Jews.” The rulers

sneered at him. The soldiers jeered at him.

One of the criminals reviled him.

Luke  23:35-43


Surely, you have heard the expression “God’s ways are not our ways!” It means that God thinks differently from the way we human beings think and God does things differently from the way human beings do them.  We see the most dramatic example of just how differently God thinks in today’s Feast of Christ the King.  Christ our King is presented to us, stripped and naked on a cross, dying in agony between two common criminals, spit running down his face, a sarcastic note nailed above his head, a “crown” of thorns mockingly hammered into the blood-matted hair of his head for all passers-by to laugh at!  Now that’s not exactly how we picture royalty! That is certainly not what we saw recently on TV at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II! We are used to seeing kings powerful, pampered and pompous!  Our King is different, very different!  “He bore our infirmities.  He endured our sufferings.  He was pierced for our offenses. He was crushed for our sins. His chastisement made us whole. His stripes healed us.” Without doubt “God’s ways are not our ways!” God does not think the way we think!


However, this unusual “king” thing is only one example. God has always done this kind of stuff!  Centuries ago, when God began to prepare a people from whom he would send a savior, he chose Abraham and Sara, two childless senior citizens with a couple of their feet already in the grave!!  After choosing this people as "his" people, they ended up enslaved in a foreign country.  Even when they are led out of slavery, God picks a man with a speech impediment to lead them. Even his messengers the prophets were, more often than not, hesitant, even whiny, sometimes. One had a dirty mouth. One tried to beg off as being too young and inexperienced. Another tried to run and had to be swallowed by a whale and spit out on the beach near Nineveh. Their most famous and beloved king, David, was a murderous bigamist!  Even when the birth of the Savior of the world came, he was born not from among the rich and educated, not at a state-of-the-arts birthing center with the best of doctors, but in a barn, to a teen-ager, pregnant before marriage, away from home, after riding for miles on donkey back! It just keeps going and going!  Even before his birth, Mary predicted that God’s ways would not be our ways. “The rich are pulled from their thrones and the poor are lifted up from their manure heaps.” 


Again, in his ministry, we see that God’s ways are not our ways. Jesus was a layman, not a clergyman. He was kicked out of the synagogue, rejected and hounded by the religious establishment. His closest companions were a personnel department’s worst nightmare: a hated tax collector, a liar, two mama’s babies, an agnostic, a former terrorist, and a petty thief, to name a few!  His closest friends were a motley collection of the marginal type: prostitutes, lepers, the un-churched, women and children, and the dirt poor of every kind.  The gossip about him was that he “welcomed sinners and ate with them,” helping him earn the reputation of being a “glutton and drunkard.”  That’s certainly not what most people expect of God! But, “God’s ways are not our ways.”  Even his final “big entry” into Jerusalem was not in a gleaming chariot with white horses or on a golden throne carried by slaves. No, he enters on the back of a jackass as people chanted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”  


No wonder most people missed this king. They were looking in the wrong direction. They thought they knew how God would act. They thought he would act as they would act.  As one preacher put it years ago, “In the beginning, God created us in his own image and likeness and ever since we have been trying to create God in our image and likeness!” Instead of thinking as God thinks, we try to make God think the way we think. No wonder we experience God as absent, more than present, in our lives! We keep trying to make God reasonable, we keep looking for God among the rich, the beautiful, the self-righteous and the powerful!  No wonder Christianity is dead in countries where power, prestige and money are prized, but alive and well and growing in countries where the poor, the powerless and the suffering live. The latter understand how God thinks!  The former is still trying to get God to think as they think! The rich and powerful and beautiful and so-called smart people think they can do without God. The poor and powerless know that they need God!


One the most common ways we do not think as God thinks is when we think that God is absent when things go wrong and present only when things go right.  Looking back over my own life, I can say with confidence that it was during those times that God seemed most absent is when God was actually most active! I could not see it at the time, but it is crystal clear from hindsight! (1) As I look back over my life, especially over a very painful childhood lived out in an atmosphere of almost daily psychological abuse. It was painful and I would not want to go through it again, but I have come to realize that God was certainly using it to prepare me for helping hundreds of others as a priest. I can say with certainty that that experience, and the triumph over it, has helped my effectiveness as a priest more than any other thing! (2) When I was sent to the home missions right after ordination, I certainly felt at the time that God seemed to have abandoned me. In reality, looking back, God was extremely active at that time in my life. God was preparing me for my life’s work as a preacher, as a "revitalizer" of parishes and as a person sensitive to religious prejudice. Looking back, I have realized over and over again, that that period of my life was preparing me for what I have been doing ever since!


On this Feast of Christ the King, a feast in honor of the king that is the reverse of how we think of kings, we are challenged to think differently about God. It’s message is simple: God’s ways are not our ways, it is precisely when we feel God most absent, is when God is most present! So I say to all of you who have things going on in your life that you don’t like, things that make you feel that God is absent, just wait! Trust God! I believe that you will someday realize that, even in times of loss and tragedy, God is very active.  Scriptures tell the story in a million ways: God’s ways are not our ways! Contrary to popular opinion, breakdown is a sure sign of a breakthrough, there is a crown on the other side of every cross, resurrection on the other side of death!   That heart attack may just wake you up to what’s really important! That relationship breakup may be the best thing that ever happened to you! That firing may just take you to the best job you ever had! That unexpected death may bring you closer to others!  Ugly ducklings today may just turn out to be swans tomorrow! Getting what you want may turn out to be your worst nightmare! That child that disappointed you most may just turn out to be the child that makes you most proud! That feeling of God being absent, may be the beginning of feeling closer to God than ever! Never underestimate the value of a so-called tragedy!  God’s ways are not our ways!