Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants To Find Church Family in New City

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been around the same church community for practically my entire life. I'm moving to a new town where I know hardly anyone, so I’m going to have to find a new church family. I have no idea where to begin since I don't have any connections in the new town. I'm in my late 20s, and I want to find a young church with traditional values. How should I go about this? -- Churchgoer

DEAR CHURCHGOER: Start with your home church. Speak to the pastor to find out if they have any contacts in your new town or if they can put you in touch with a national office to help you with an introduction. Depending upon your church affiliation within the denomination, this could be an easy ask. Churches are typically eager to welcome young people, especially now, when attendance is down for much of the nation. Talk to an administrator to learn about churches that fit your personality and needs.

If that doesn’t work, look online for churches in your new town with young congregations and a traditional mindset. You are bound to find some options that you can visit. When you get to town, talk to people in your neighborhood about the churches there. Take your time, and attend the churches that are potential candidates so that you can get a sense of the pastor, the service and the congregation.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom is a 70-year-old woman. Her dog recently died after being with her for 15 years. I know that she would love to have another pet, but she fears that she's not at a place in her life where owning another pet makes sense. I think she is just being morbid. I know she wants another dog, and I want to surprise her with one. I genuinely don't know whether or not she'll be offended that I went against her wishes, but I figured it’s worth a shot. Do you think I’ll offend her by surprising her with another dog? She talks about missing her dog often -- even though she swears she doesn’t want another one. -- Missing Our Dog

DEAR MISSING OUR DOG: I do not believe in surprising people with animals. Caring for a pet is a tremendous responsibility. Unless you are willing and able to care for a dog for your mother, do not give her a pet without her blessing. What you can do is talk to her. Acknowledge her grief over her dog’s passing. She may need some time to mourn her dog before inviting another one into her life.

Tell her that you think it would be good for her to have a new pet, and you would like to gift her a dog. Ask if she would be willing to go with you to see some dogs and to consider welcoming a new pet into her home. The experience of visiting and meeting dogs that she might like can be an adventure that may cheer her up.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)