Monday, January 22, 2007

Mission impossible

Perhaps I should have thought twice before writing outside my realm.

The post on helping the homeless has generated more criticism than I ever expected, most of it in anonymous comments (some of which I deleted for foul language) and more in my email inbox. I thought I was being transparent in admitting my faults. I hoped that by asking for help, the resources answered might be helpful to many of us.

Ultimately, the contrast between the needs of the homeless and my archives of the "perfect homelife" was too jarring. Critics came out from every corner. Rather than sharing my secrets for living on less, I was turning readers' focus to materialism. Sharing yard sale finds was suddenly "exalting worldly treasures." Eating low carb foods (for diabetes, I might add) was feasting while others go hungry. Is it possible to please everyone?

There are many parts of my life which I do not share at Like Merchant Ships. When I thought about starting a blog, I considered many subjects. Of all the talents God gives people, one of my best is managing our money. That doesn't mean the Christian woman's greatest aim is to be "like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar." It's just my one little area of expertise. I know some of you have been encouraged by our example. Foregoing one income so that you can stay home with your children doesn't mean you'll live in a dreary home and eat ramen noodles every meal! Likewise, I have been challenged to growth in other areas by watching your journeys online.

Two years have passed since I started Like Merchant Ships. It's been a blessing for me to document our lives, motivate myself, and be uplifted by your comments and questions. Just bear with me as I learn and grow. Who knows what the next two years will bring?

NOTE: I am really worn out. For the time being I have turned off the commenting option.


Amy said...

Meredith, I am SO sorry about the backlash you have received from sharing something that I am sure we have all felt at one point or another. I admire your honesty and your ingenuity at running a household the way you do. Your life has beena great inspiration to me & my family. I often show your entries to my husband as further proof and inspiration that we can be creative when living on one budget.

I do understand how hard it is to put yourself out there. I originally wrote about my private life as a mom and I found the scrutiny too much. I found myself censoring who I was to make others happy. Sharing how we save money seemed like an easier path, but what has happened proves that this is just as difficult.

It is easy to cast stones, but I have always appreciated and admired who you are. It takes a lot of guts to blog about what you did. Do not let this discourage you!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog and can't imagine why it would be offensive to live within your means and want to help the homeless. Anyone up to their eyeballs in debt cannot give to those in need. And I can say that from personal experience!! Keep it up, you encourage me daily to live within our income and be creative!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Meredith,
Congratulations on completing two years of blogging! When I first found my way as a reader into the blogosphere, Like Merchant Ships was among my earliest discoveries! I devoured your archives and was so motivated to see what I could do with what I already's amazing what we can accomplish when we really put our minds to it! And already being a 'thrift shopper' myself, I enjoyed reading about all your discoveries! You were one of my inspirations to begin blogging myself!
Thanks for sharing of yourself, your day to day journey, your ideas, and your time! Don't be disheartened by negative comments! You are always candid and forthright, and I find that to be refreshing! Those are traits that I look for in friends, and I think it's a positive's honest!
You prove that life can be good and rich (in satisfaction)...even when being frugal and living on one income. You've also shown that second-hand can be first-rate!

Thanks for a great two years...and here's to many more!! You do make a keep on 'bloggin' away! LOL
Amy in GA.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on two years! I hope it will be many, many more and that overall it remains a positive experience for you. Thanks for sharing your ideas, your experiences, and your self.

Best wishes,

marycelery said...


I am so sorry you had a nasty reaction to your post about homelessness.

I read you every day. You are delightful and thought provoking. After reading your post, I discussed homelessness and helping other with my 13 year old daughter. I spoke of your post and of the different ideas of how to help others.

Then, I forgot about it. God brought me back to your post.

You see, I live in the desert southwest. On Sunday night, it began to rain and then snow. The temps dropped so fast it was astonishing!

At 8:30pm it was very dark and bitterly cold. We had a knock at the door - very odd for that time of night. I opened it and found a skinny high school boy slurring his speak and having a problem walking. My first impulse was to close the door.

I thought of your post, and really looked at this boy. He was not a threat. However, he was hypothermic - blue lipped, cherry red hands - he had been out walking in the rain and had misjudged how cold it was going to get. He was not dressed for the weather and being from the mid-west I knew he was reacting poorly to the cold.

We got him a hot water bottle (the mid-western cure for anything) and then drove him home (his request). He only lived 1/8th of a mile away, but he would not have made it. He told me he had knocked on several doors. Nobody would let him come in and warm up.

Even my next door neighbor, a youth pastor for a local church, refused him. I was so grateful that you wrote this very thoughtful post and reminded me of my duty. I hope my actions showed my children how to serve others.

Now, I will still guard my children from folks acting erratically - homeless or not - but I will serve the least of us with a light heart (and bless you every time).


Miss Mary

Anonymous said...

(((Hugs))) I do enjoy your blog and you have given me great tips and encouragement on being more frugal (which also means I'm being a better steward). Hang in there and congrats on two years!!

Anonymous said...

Your comments about helping the homeless reminded me of my duty to do the same. Sometimes my desires --or my children's-- seem so pressing that I forget that others have needs that are even more important. Thank you for reminding me and thank you for your thoughtful blog.

Anonymous said...

There are always mean spirited, miserable people who feel better about themselves when they attack others. Don't let it get you down. You ARE a good person.

I volunteer at a food pantry, and we do have some homeless people as clients. It is a "safe" way for me to give help. I included this information only as an aside for those who may wish to help but don't have an opportunity. Of course, I am retired and do not have young chilren to care for.

Your blog has been a wonderful contribution to my life, and I'm sure for many others.


Annette said...

sorry to hear about all the flak you got on your homeless post, I have to admit, i read it and thought okay... so just what was the problem?

You explained you wanted to help, and your mothering instincts screamed... be careful. :) Then you went out and asked for advice, and got it.

So ah....what can I say. I don't always get here as often as I would like, but I appreciate what you write about. Helps me. :) So anyways, thanks, continue to hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I recently found your blog and I just love it! Please don't let negative people discourage you..your heart shines through in your writing and I'm so thankful you are sharing bits of your life and practical tips with all of us.Thank you!