March 5 Concert!

ug-concert-001It’s time to do this again! I’m planning my fourth Uganda trip in a few months, and also planning my third Uganda concert. I didn’t do a concert the first time, but since then I’ve figured out how much fun it is to get friends together to hear great music, and inspire them with stories of what’s happening in Uganda.

On Sunday, March 5 there will be a “Send Charley Back to Uganda” Concert in Southern California. So if you’re A) in or near Southern California, and B) interested in sending me to Africa, even if it’s just to get rid of me for a while, you’re invited. At the event, you’ll learn more about the work of Loving One by One in Uganda, and you’ll have an opportunity to help support my trip. “Help support my trip” means I’m going to ask you to help pay for it. 🙂

Three of my talented friends – Alison Freeman, Charles Williams and John Torres – will be there to perform for us. It’ll be in a beautiful location overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There will be cool people there who are fun to hang out with. I hope you will consider coming, if you’re in the area.

If you don’t attend the concert but would like to help support my trip anyway, contact me at charley@charleymiller.net and I’ll give you information about that. Any contributions toward my trip are tax deductible.

Finally, for a little closer look into what I’ve done my first three trips to Uganda and what I’ll do this year, take a look at this video…

Send Charley to Uganda!

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Being Invisible in Uganda

IMG_0251Almost six years ago in the summer of 2011, I went to Uganda for the first time, on a team with Loving One by One Ministries. What I expected to be a one-time visit has now become a major focal point of my life. Now after three trips to Uganda, and after a few years of serving with some amazing people on the board of Loving One by One (LOBO) – it’s time to for me to go back.

There are a lot of good reasons to go to Uganda on a LOBO team, but for me the main reason is pretty straightforward – it’s about getting really simple for a few weeks, not being in charge of anything, not being known by anyone, and immersing myself into the lives of people who are (literally) dying from poverty.  It’s about doing whatever is necessary to change the lives of struggling people – through education, medical care, emergency surgeries, or other ways.

Over a two-week period, LOBO teams provide free medical care to thousands of people. We provide clothing to children whose only new clothing is whatever LOBO brings once a year. We provide life-saving surgeries. We give reading glasses to hundreds of elderly people.  Sometime we get involved with people who are terminally ill, and stay involved with them and their families until the end, and then we pay burial expenses.

A few people in Uganda know who I am; most don’t. To most Ugandans, I’m just another one of the mzungu’s who shows up to help. The people of Uganda are always thankful because they’re nice people – but they don’t know me from Adam (except for that whole fig leaf thing). I’m just another white face in the crowd of many white faces, just trying to help. They might remember my ukulele I guess; but honestly, the people of Uganda have a lot more important things to think about than a crazy mzungu with a ukulele. While I’m here in California agonizing over which of my ukuleles to take to school on a given day, the average mom in Uganda is agonizing over which of her children will eat on a given day. A different problem entirely.

invisible-man-780294So I’m not personally that big of a deal over in Uganda, and I’m pretty much forgotten once I’m gone. I’m invisible, basically.
But our work isn’t invisible, and it impacts people’s lives for years.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing stories of what’s been going on lately with LOBO’s work in Uganda, and sharing some of our new plans. If  you’d like to help support my trip to Uganda this summer, send me an email and I’ll give you more information. You can reach me at charley@charleymiller.net.

Lastly, soon I’ll have information about this year’s “Send Charley Back to Africa” Concert. If you’re in the L.A. area, you’re invited! Actually, you’re invited no matter where you are, but I’m just being realistic.

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Back to Uganda, and Back to the Blog

Happy 2017 everybody!

I haven’t written a blog post since May of last year (that was 2016). But it’s a new year, and since it’s an odd-numbered year, you know what that means…. Back to Uganda!

This summer I’ll be returning to Uganda with Loving One by One Ministries, for my 4th, count ’em, 4th trip. A lot has changed since my first trip in 2011; actually, quite a bit has changed in just the past year. But through those changes, we still have the same basic focus – through our medical teams, our children’s home, our school and other efforts, we attempt to break the cycle of poverty that so many are struggling with in and around Kampala, Uganda.

Blog posts are supposed to be short, so I won’t write a lot in this one. Instead, I’ve posted a handful of fun photos from my first three Uganda trips, to get you pumped up for all that will happen in 2017. And yes – there will be a “Send Charley to Uganda” Concert in a few months, so stay tuned for news on that as well.

That’s it for now. Watch for more in the next several days.

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Running Thoughts In My Head After a Week In the Orchestra Pit

PDVD_063The title says it – I just spent a week directing music for a theater production. It went very well, it’s all done, and now I’m at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos in Torrance, CA, eating a quesadilla and thinking very random thoughts as my brain recovers from the craziness of 7 days in the orchestra pit:

I’m tired… I’m hungry… This is a good quesadilla… It’s so weird that Wahoo’s is always playing surfing videos…. I should learn to surf…. I bet I’m not too old to become a professional surfer…. I’ll stick with music… I’m so lucky to know so many good musicians…. I can’t figure out what kept going wrong with Song #8A…. That old guy is wearing Levi’s – it’s so weird that Levi’s have that label with the size on it…. Why are Levi’s so expensive…. Hey, he wears my size…. Maybe I should get his name and contact info in case I need to ever borrow jeans… It’s a good thing I rarely drink because this Corona is really good…. The Levi’s guy’s wife would probably think I’m weird if I asked about the contact info for the jeans…. Maybe that’s not even his wife… Seven piano lessons and a rehearsal tomorrow…. I wish “Good Wife” was still on…. That last “Good Wife” episode was dumb…. I should probably go

There. My brain needed to get all that out. It was a good week in the pit.

 

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Response to Blogger Re Target Restrooms

I came across a blog called “Ministry in the Mommyhood,” in which the writer, Jaci Lambert, addressed Target’s recent policy to allow anyone to use whichever restroom they’d like, according to the gender they identify with. The blog title was Target Bathrooms and the Straight, Conservative Preacher’s Wife. The writer describes herself this way:

Let’s get all of my personal facts out on the table before I tell you where I stand and why. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ as my very personal Savior. I love Him, and I believe He loves me along with every single person on this planet. Without exception. I am straight. I am married to a man. He is a pastor which makes me a pastor’s wife by default. I’m not always a very good one, but I’m an honest one, so my church at least has that going for it. I am a mother. I have four beautiful daughters, and I would start World War III to keep them safe. I am politically conservative, but I have stopped identifying with the Republican party because I think that the whole of Washington has lost their ever-lovin’ minds…across party lines…it’s the one thing they have in common. I believe in the Bible. I believe that every word in it is true. I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, but I am NOT a homophobe. Because I also believe what the Bible says about loving people. ALL people. Without exception.

I (Charley) disagree with Target’s new restroom policy, with an understanding of why we ever separated restrooms according to biological sex in the first place – for privacy and security. My safety concern is not about transgenders causing harm to anyone. It’s about a non-transgender, normal man, identifying as a man, using the new policy as license to go into  women’s restroom and threaten or harm women or young girls. If my adult daughter was still a child, I’d be pretty up in arms about it. Not out of hate or phobia against transgender people, but out of what would seem to be a common sense concern over the safety of my daughter.

I’ve tried to stay out of this for a variety of reasons. But something about Mrs. Lambert’s blog post made me want to list a few of her points and address them. She comes across as a bit sarcastic, but I can’t fault her for that, since I speak sarcasm fluently and that would be the pot calling the kettle black. Anyway, here are my responses to some of her points…

However, I will now simply accompany my kids into the main restroom when we’re at Target because IF they ever came across a man in the women’s restroom, they would be confused.

In other words, before you didn’t feel you needed to accompany your children to the restroom, and now you do. With good reason.

Transgendered people have never hurt my children.  But believe it or not, a whole bunch of church people have.

This is a distraction from the main point given for emotional effect. All of us who have spent any time in church can say the same thing. So can all of us who have spent time in elementary school, high school or college; we’ve all been hurt by school people.  Or all of us who have spent time working for any company, or participating in any organization; we’ve all been hurt by co-workers. So what? Pointing the finger at church people hurting your children does nothing more than make you appear to have an axe to grind against church people.

Only a small number of people are concerned about transgender people harming children in a restroom. Those people are misinformed and wrong. The majority of concern comes from sensible, concerned people who are concerned about non-transgender men taking advantage of new free access to women’s restrooms to potentially harm women and children. There are reports of such cases.

What does that mean?  It means that ANYONE is capable of hurting my children.  ANY.ONE.  And it’s my job to keep them safe.  But what if they did see a transgendered person in the restroom?  Would the world really end?  No.

Yes. Your children can be hurt many places. And now Target has decided to make a policy that makes their restrooms more likely to be among those places. The world wouldn’t end if they saw a transgendered person in a restroom. The child’s world may in fact end, or be severely damaged, if she was approached or attacked by a male pedophile in a restroom. Target’s policy increases the likelihood of that happening.

Because I would then have the opportunity to explain to my children, who don’t have any choice but to grow up in this messy world, that there are some people who feel like they are different and like they don’t belong anywhere.  We could talk about what Jesus would do and how He would expect us to love them and how we would feel if we didn’t belong anywhere.

No disagreement there.

The perverts and the pedophiles don’t care about Target’s policy.  Sure it’s one less obstacle in their way, but you really think a store policy is going to keep them from what they desire?  Probably not.

Perverts and pedophiles are a determined bunch, to be sure. Would Target’s former restroom policy have kept them from what they desired? Probably not. Will Target’s new restroom policy make it easier to get what they desire? Yes, of course.
But if they do, if the perverts and pedophiles decide to hang out in the women’s restroom, Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.  That’s on them.

Great. Tell that to the first female victim who is assaulted in a Target restroom by a man allowed in because of Target’s new policy. I didn’t say “transgender female,” but a man, taking advantage of the new restroom access by dishonestly claiming to be transgender. It has happened before. So when a woman or girl is threatened or assaulted by such a man, just tell her, “Hey it’s fine. Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.” I’m sure that will make her feel a lot better.
Women and children need to be paying attention to their surroundings just like when they’re at the park and when they’re at the grocery store after 10pm and when they’re at church (shoot, I can’t even help myself).  Pay attention to your surroundings because perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target.

Yes, perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target. And, they now like Target a lot more than they did a week or two ago. Yes, women and children need to be careful in lots of places. And yes, a Target restroom is now one of those places. Congratulations, Target.

THE BIG ONE: This boycott is doing more damage to the Christian cause than it’s helping.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in standing up for our rights and in what we believe in.  But this isn’t a “right.”  This is a privately owned company setting a policy in place.

That may or may not be true. I can understand that viewpoint. But in honesty, if I still had a young daughter at home, I’d be a lot more concerned about her safety than I would about damaging the Christian cause. Maybe my priorities would be mixed up there, but that’s where I’d stand.

To conclude, I don’t have an axe to grind with Ministry in the Mommyhood – I hadn’t seen it before until I found this article today. More importantly, I don’t have an axe to grind with transgender people. Having a few transgenders in fairly close relationship, I have a sense of the struggle. My beef with Target isn’t about transgender people; it’s about Target, in an attempt to be politically correct, creating a dangerous situation for millions more people than they claim to be helping.

Comments will be filtered. Keep them kind and constructive.

 

 

 

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Dear Government: Let Me Help You

monopoly-man

Dear Federal Government:

I’ve been trying not to get too involved in your stuff, because A) I’m too busy, B) in some very small way, I still want to trust you to make decent choices once in a great while, and C) primarily, you’ve made such a mess of everything you touch that I wouldn’t know where to begin to help you.

But, I have an idea that you may want to consider.

I’ve been trying to keep my news intake to a minimum lately, because the election makes me alternately want to laugh myself to death and vomit, and because most of the world is crazy, and because I can’t understand the reason for the existence of the Kardashians, and this whole Target restroom thing defies common sense. All that said, another issue has come up lately which I think I’d like to weigh in on… the life-altering question of “Who the heck should be on the 20-dollar bill?”.

Frankly, I’m not all that married to Andrew Jackson’s photo on the 20. Nor am I married to Harriet Tubman’s or any particular person’s photo on any particular denomination of money. The reality is, it’s not a big deal. It’s not really a deal at all; just pick someone, anyone and get on with it. But, I realize that you are, after all, the Federal Government, and it’s your role to find things that don’t matter and turn them into big issues. But, while it doesn’t actually matter who goes on the money, it seems to have become a deal for you. So I want to help you make this decision so you can get on with more important things like rigging Presidential primaries and stopping terrorists.

Here’s my plan – Personalized Vanity Currency. Or, PVC. Much like the personalized vanity license plates that are so popular here in CA and elsewhere, there is enough of an appeal to the narcissist in most of us, this thing could really take off. Here’s how it would work…

A person like me (although I would never do this) would choose a photo to put on a $20 dollar bill. Or any denomination;

The Treasury Department would have a Personalized Vanity Currency website, designed by the same I.T. geniuses who worked on the Obamacare thing;

I (or any narcissist) would upload their favorite photo to the site, pay the fee (the face value plus another $5 per bill) through PayPal, and enter their personal information. For those of you who struggle with math, that means a PVC 20-dollar bill would cost $25. Plus, you could probably come up with other taxes to impose. I’ll leave that up to you;

In 6-8 weeks, I (or whoever) will find my $20 bill in my mailbox. Or, hopefully, several $20 bills. I’d recommend a minimum order of some kind, otherwise you’ll have all these arrogant selfie-taking cheapskates ordering one dollar at a time.

And there you go. This could be a goldmine for the Federal Government, which as I understand, could use a goldmine about now. Another idea would be to make the Personalized Vanity Currency FREE of charge for the first six months to generate interest in the idea. If the costs prove to be prohibitive for that, Donald Trump would probably pay for it, and then he could get Mexico to reimburse him later.

OK – I hope that helps. I can’t solve very many of the Federal Government’s problems (for that matter, neither can the Federal Government). But something like this could prove to be the psychological win this country needs right now. Please get back to me if I can answer any questions about the PVC program or help in any other way.

Sincerely, etc etc

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Sorry About the Blog (Or, “Random Stuff to Get Back Into the Writing Habit”)

1013237_10201833481302102_386870110_nThis is my first blog post in almost three months. I used to blog fairly regularly, and kind of liked doing it, but lately I’ve lost the will to blog. But a few weeks ago I got an email from WordPress, telling me it was time to renew my domain name (charleymiller.net) or lose it. So I thought about it, and decided that although I’m in a “don’t know what I want to do with the blog” phase, I figured it was worth the $26 to hold onto the domain name for a while.

The problem is, I still don’t know what to write about. It’s not that I have nothing on my mind; I think it’s more a matter of having too much on my mind at any given time, and I don’t necessarily want to put any of it out there. Years ago I was happy being an introverted, reserved person. Then I took an odd, unexpected turn into the world of pastoral ministry and out of necessity, I became a lot more involved with people than I normally would have been. But now that I’ve been back to my old regular private self for a while now, I really don’t always feel the need to tell people what I’m thinking all that often.

By the way, on the whole pastor thing – in about a month, I will have been out of pastoral ministry for the same amount of years (11) I was in it. I’m not sure what that means, other than the fact I can read a calendar.

Anyway, in an effort to get back to blogging regularly, and since I went ahead and paid the $26 for the domain name again (I literally had forgotten how to log into my site and had to try to remember the password), here is a list of Random Things About Me, in no particular order, for no particular reason…

I just put away all my Christmas decorations, except for a snowman doormat, which stays out all year around, just because we think it’s funny (“we” = me and the Lovely Miss Courtney, my daughter);

I really like Tide detergent, but only buy it when it’s on sale;

I’m very attached to Uganda, and the work Loving One by One does over there;

I need to get new tires in the next month or so. Until then, I wouldn’t ride with me if I were you;

I personally own six ukuleles, and babysit about 50 more;

I have absolutely no enthusiasm for any of the people currently running for President, in either party, and I think we should postpone the election until someone signs up who doesn’t either bore or scare me to death;

I’ve learned more about God, about the world and about people in the last eleven years than in the eleven years before that;

I really like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” You should find it online and check it out.

OK, that’s it for tonight. Thanks for letting me practice on you for this post, and hopefully I’ll be back with something more substantial very soon.

**Note – the photo for this post was chosen for no reason, other than the fact that I’m playing a ukulele in Africa, wearing a hat with the pets.com Sock Puppet on it. All that seemed kind of cool.

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