August 2, 2015

If you read my last two columns, you’ll know that my wife and I sold our five-bedroom McMansion and moved into a 40-year-old double-wide on the south side of Sacramento.

Our neighborhood can get a bit dicey, but we made the drastic, yet temporary, move for three reasons, none of which are exactly altruistic: 1. Break materialistic habits. 2. Save some money for retirement. 3. Consider an overseas retirement in Ecuador.

Last Saturday, I took my pound-pup to our park playground to rethink those reasons. It was there I heard a voice from the sky:

“We are pursuing a felony suspect. Please return to your homes and lock the doors.”

If you’ve met me, you can guess my response. I walked toward the giant voice while humming “Bad Boys.”

“Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?”

I think the airborne deputy saw the balk in my walk, because he added: “We’ve deployed our canine unit. If you don’t want to become dog food, you’d better seek shelter now!”

At least that’s how I remember it.

I grabbed Fido and settled inside behind my very un-bulletproof windows to sip iced tea.

The voice from above seemed to mimic the tone of the readers who wrote me this week to question my judgment.

Two readers — both named Jackie — wrote, “Just what r u trying 2 prove????” and, “Are you for real?”

Charleston readers seemed the most taken aback. An 82-year-old retired Navy officer said: “I gasp when I read of your current travails. … I admire your Christian thinking, though. It’s just your decision-making that’s questionable.” While couching his critique in “good fun,” he still “hoped I’d come to my senses soon.”

Another dared me to go further, saying, “If you really want to ‘know’ what the other side of the tracks is, divest your ability to buy back into suburbia.”

Other readers expressed sympathy for my wife.

One woman who’d “lost her home on a lagoon with a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi” wrote, “The least you can do for your wife … is find a cute little home … where the neighbors are employed or retired.”

A man with six income sources thought it was “time to rethink what you are doing and get your wife to a safer environment.” He said he would never be able to “live with myself if something was to happen because I moved my family into a less-desirable area.”

Still, most writers balanced their thoughts with words like: “I am very impressed that you and your beloved decided on such an adventure. Strength, grace, wisdom to you both.” Another said she’d “be delighted to be following your journey of downsizing, decisions, insights into the challenges of others.”

Another reader added a humorous wink: “I give you six months and your wife, Becky, six weeks! For myself it would be six days.” She kindly added, “Very much enjoy your common sense and life’s little lessons columns.”

Finally, I had to chuckle at the over-the-top comparison to Jim Elliot, a missionary to Ecuador in the ’50s. That appraisal came from a 78-year-old widow who said my “courageous decision” reminded her of a famous Elliot quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Wait a minute. Wasn’t Jim Elliot killed by Ecuador’s indigenous people? Yikes. Strike Ecuador. Maybe we should consider a Belize retirement.

Send comments to or P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759. Twitter @chaplain. Leave your recorded comments at (843) 608-9715. Visit my website at where you can download a free chapter from my new book, “Hero’s Highway.”