Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baby guilt

A sweet friend from church found out yesterday that she is miscarrying, and she had a stillbirth last year. She has the most beautiful son and is just a dear heart, as is her husband. I am devastated for her. I have baby guilt - it's kind of like white guilt, but it's about getting pregnant and popping out babies with ease. If I could do it for her today, I would.

A co-worker is dealing with family illness after a sudden death earlier this year, a local homeschool dad died tragically last just seems like a good time to be grateful for my husband and children. I am so very blessed in so many ways. My church, my calling, my family, my friends, my's all amazing, fantastic stuff.

Prayers and love go out to those in my life who are in pain tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good thoughts and Food

We have some people in our community who are dealing with death and illness, and I want to publicly express my grief and love for them. I am so grateful to be part of a community that is so loving and willing to step up in a time of need.

In more plebian news, I am in a serious, serious food rut. Like pizza, pasta and popcorn. I need some easy recipes that are for the love of God not chicken (but we're not vegetarian) that I can throw in my crock pot or make in a jiffy and that are cheap, and can be modified to be dairy free for the 1/3 of my family that cannot have any lactose. I am desperate here people. I'm tired of tomato sauce, chicken and pasta. Soups and fresh bread would be great, stews; tempting, hearty meals that I can make for my family and the aforementioned friends who are struggling with life's challenges right now


Monday, February 22, 2010


Coming home from a meeting with my teaching pastor to loud, fighting children is...challenging. The mood is so different and the energy so different, that it's like being in a different universe sometimes.

However, the meeting was fab. We talked about my theology, New Testament, canon, some of my questions and things I need to work on, and brainstormed about internship. Does anyone know if the UUA offers money to congregations for funding interns? She really wants me to get a stipend but that could be a sticking point due to budgetary constraints.

I'm in scholarship app mode, so if anyone has resources, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dates, Youth Ministry, and the Joys of Vomit

It has been a busy couple of days. I spent a few hours trying to organize my list of books that I'm keeping for the MFC. It's a herculean task, as I read a lot, and I'm trying to figure out whether to do it by topic, by author, or what. I'm using EasyBib, so I can do them like citations AND keep a running list online that's already alphabetized. I'm also not sure what is pertinent, and what isn't. A lot of it could be considered under various competencies, so I guess I'll keep it all for now, and weed through it later on.

I still haven't received word about my RSCC interview date, or my CPE placement, or my possible internship. I don't like loose ends, so I hope to get some answers in the next week or so.

In the good kind of dates, my husband and I are going to try to set a date for ourselves to do something together. We've fallen into the habit of parenting, work, household management...and not much else. We are going to try some local hikes around the area to start with, and maybe do some obedience training with our Golden, who is being really annoying and pestering us a lot lately. We'd like to get him to walk off-leash without running away and thought we could work together on it. Any suggestions?

Today was exhausting. Lucy woke up at 1:30am, and I crawled into bed with her and fell asleep. At 4 am she woke up and threw up in my hands (had to protect the pillows, you know), and then again at 4:30, which I didn't quite catch. Around 4:45, I climbed back into bed, and Jude started coughing. He has allergies and his medicine wears off each night. He went down to my bed, and proceed to cough, and cough, and cough, and I couldn't get back to sleep. I was so tired, I gave him cough syrup but not Benadryl, so it didn't help. I finally sent him back to his bed at 5:20, knowing I had to get up at 6. Ugh. He was amazingly good natured about it though.

I got to work at 8, and my boss was out today, so for the first time, I did K-5 youth worship for both services. I had one wonderful parent who co-led with me, and several other parents jumped in. My daughters helped too, and they were amazing! We did an Inventions theme, and broke into small groups, and each one of my kids plus a couple of other teens jumped in to help lead and do classroom management. They also helped setup, cleanup, and checked in with the preschool rooms.

After that, I led my Teen Soul Matters group, which I love. The kids are so awesome, and were so willing to try some hard stuff today - we really dug into spiritual practice, and some difficult topics around the idea of Curiosity. Really good stuff!

I love kids. They are so willing to try new things, and are so intuitive. I am so lucky to be involved with the youth at my church!

Friday, February 19, 2010


You know, Ash Wednesday just kind of up and missed me this year. As a recovering Catholic, I am usually attuned to the calendar of the Catholic church, but I don't know what happened this year.

In any event, I realized that I kind of miss confession. I would like a little absolution for my sins. I feel like a crappy parent a good deal of the time, thanks to my ex-husband's voice in my head, my mother's bad parenting influence, and my own innate failings. I feel like a bad wife because I am definitely a feminist and not a product of the 50s, cellophane crowd; and I am FAIL at remembering birthdays and things.

I don't think I've committed too many of the seven cardinal sins this year. But in all seriousness, there is a part of me that misses the ritual of that confession with the priest; the Hail Mary's and Our Father's. The Creed. The Rosary.

Maybe some of this is coming from a titillating discussion in my New Testament class on canon. Ritual and liturgy and law, theology. There must be a reason why it is so attractive to people. UUism doesn't make it that easy. We talk about free and responsible search and all that. I seem to always take the more difficult road. My mother says I need a t-shirt that says "Preacher for All People." I kinda like that!

In any event, I am considering making Lent a time of spiritual practice, though I don't get to go to confession. Now to decide which sin I am to work on!

And lest anyone think I'm making light of Lent, I am absolutely not. I found it a very wonderful spiritual practice throughout my childhood, and am wondering if there might be a way to revive that sense of connection to the holy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Bible and Meaning

I was raised Roman Catholic and was not encouraged to read the Bible. I don't know if it was because I was a girl, or because it was to be interpreted by the priests, or what, but it always felt inaccessible to me, and even the stories didn't engage me.

When I tried to read the Bible as a young adult, I couldn't do it. I couldn't slog through all those begats. Now that I'm getting to study the Bible for the first time, I am really starting to get the context of living in a country with such a large Christian demographic.

So, I guess I"m interested in how UUs and everyone else accesses the Bible. Does it bring meaning to your life? What are your favorite verses? Why? How does it inform your life; how does it create transformation?

What other stories and books and poems do you find useful and transformational in your life? (because God knows, I don't have a long enough wish list at Amazon already!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Transformational Moments

Two things happened today. One was a marvelous service at First Unitarian Church of Rochester. There was much laughter, but the best part for me was after the second service. Our ministers are married, and the husband read the poem Changed Man, that he gave his wife for Valentine's Day today. When they came out after the service, as they always to, to greet everyone leaving, Kaaren rushed out and hugged and kissed her husband. It was a private moment. A moment of deep love, and understanding, and so very moving. It reminded me of how much I love my husband and my family. Of how much I love the church and my ministers. Of how glad I am that they have each other.

The second was that I was assigned to interview someone about where they see religiosity in their community work. I won't say too much here, other than that she had never thought of what she did in terms of her religious beliefs and traditions, and that she visibly became moved by the realization. That, my friends, is what ministry is about. Watching those moments of transformation. being afforded the grace to be present for those moments, and to be a part, however small, of something nothing short of miraculous. Faith, love, service, community, binding together- that is what ministry is about, regardless of what we call our institutional religion.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Religion and class

Some more quotes from my class reading that resonate with my unending concern about UUism (and religion in general) and class, and war:

Harvey Cox: "the characterization made a few years back by Philip Scharper that ‘most of the theologians -- Protestant and Catholic -- who have had such a heavy influence on American theologians and American theology have tended to be, almost by definition, members of tile upper-middle class, indeed forming something of an intellectual elite’ (Catholic Mind, April 1976, p. 18). This is a problem that even the most skillful editorial selection cannot avoid. Why?

He goes on to talk about privilege and economics allowing for leisure to study...

“Religion has very often been nothing more than the superfluous consecration of some situation or action which was neither judged nor transformed by this consecration. Religion has consecrated the feudal order and its own participation in it without transcending it. Religion has consecrated nationalism without transforming it. Religion has consecrated democracy without judging it. Religion has consecrated war and arms of war without using its spiritual arms against war. Religion has consecrated peace and the security of peace without disturbing this security with its spiritual threat. Religion has consecrated the bourgeois ideal of family and property without judging it and has consecrated systems of exploitation of men by men without transcending them; on the contrary, it has used them for its own benefit.The first word, therefore, to be spoken by religion to the people of our time must be a word spoken against religion. It is the word the old Jewish prophets spoke against the priestly and royal and pseudo-prophetic guardians of their national religion, who consecrated distorted institutions and distorted politics without judging them.

 So how can people of faith, or people of no faith, who engage in social justice work, stand up and speak? What is it about religion that allows us to hide behind it without living into the values it espouses?

Tillich: "The same word must be spoken today about our religious institutions and politics. Will religion in this country, in this moment of history, simply follow the trend of events, the way public opinion runs, the direction in which the makers of public opinion want us to move? Will religion, after it has consecrated a self-complacent and egoistic enthusiasm for peace, consecrate self-intoxication with war? Will religion in our situation transcend our situation or not?” (Tillich, “The Word of Religion,” The Protestant Era).

Interesting, especially given our offensive in Afghanistan today. Just War. Is it an oxymoron?

Defining Religion

"Traditional religions are not universal: they are tribal and national. Each religion is bound and limited to the people among whom it has evolved. One traditional religion cannot be propagated in another tribal group. This does not rule out the fact that religious ideas may spread from on e people to another. But such ideas spread spontaneously, especially through migrations, intermarriage, conquest, or expert knowledge being sought by individuals of one tribal group from another” (Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy, 4).

I'm doing some reading on the definition of religion and found this interesting, especially as contrasted to what J.Z. Smith says,"The most common form of classifying religions, found both in native categories and scholarly literature, is dualistic and can be reduced, regardless of what differentium is employed, to ‘theirs’ and ‘ours.’”

It is enlightening to finally be exposed to non-Western concepts of religion. It helps to see where I make assumptions about what I think of religion, and what I expect others to think. There is a much broader swath of defintion around religion, faith, and religiosity than I have explored - not to say that I didn't experience these ideas on the fringes of my experience, but I didn't get down in the dirt with them and plant my own seeds of wonder, and let a forest grow.

This also helps me to work on my right-brain capacity for approaching ministry in a creative way, and to understand that even those who are steeped in Western enlightenment ideas about religion will be excited about and access religion in different ways, if given the opportunity. Or maybe they'll burn me at the stake, who knows ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lacking profundity

You know, when I was away from home, and in class and able to focus away from my ADD life, I had all sorts of profound insights, and my IQ went up about 50 points. Now, I feel like I can barely keep up with my class reading, let alone say anything profound, or even think it. My blog feels like a black hole of meh.

I read some of the things the people in my NT class are posting, and I think, "Wow, I'm way out of my league here. I can't even THINK of such questions, let alone begin to answer them." I have no idea how I'll write an exegetical paper later this year.

I did write an assigned sermon that I'm quite pleased with, but I have another one to write, and am waiting for inspiration.

Gah. I don't know why my brain chose now to go on vacation but it can come home any time now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Win!

I feel like my brain is overflowing, which makes it hard to be truly present at all. Ever. I have New Testatment readings from four books, readings for Community Studies, my site work goals (and 8 hours a week there), two part-time jobs, and homeschooling the kids.

Jude and Lucy are suddenly fascinated with learning to write, and for Jude, to start reading. It's really exciting, and I'm spending a dedicated portion of every morning reading and helping them with letters. Yesterday, we spent 45 minutes practicing different numbers and letters by tracing them in flour with the index finger. They loved it! Jude even wrote some letters in his workbook with a pencil.

Today, I managed to do what I wanted to accomplish for the first time since I got home! 3 hours of work, getting everyone where they needed to go, minor cleaning, and I had dinner ready when my husband got home! Now I have a meeting for school and a sermon on gay marriage to finish, but I don't have to work tonight (unless I make some phone calls for church).

I feel so accomplished! My joy seems to be coming back. I attribute it to a kid at the shelter who unexpectedly hugs me at random moments. Grace appears where you least expect it.

I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love

I am caring and competent
vulnerable and powerful
seeking wholeness
physically, emotionally, and spiritually

I am a woman
reaching out to others
making a difference in myself
my family
church and the world

I am empowering myself
to empower others

I am struggling to accept my anger
and use it to gain strength, confidence,
courage, and intimacy with others

I am a woman
who sees the interconnectedness of all human beings
who values the unique gifts of all

I am a woman who leads and follows
who accepts responsibility for myself
and the choices I make

Yes, I am a woman
who sees each day as a new beginning
a chance to grow in self, love and service

I am a woman
born of God
I am a woman
born of love
And I can be
All that I am

- Ms. Katherine Tyler Scott, in Women's Uncommon Prayer Book

UU Without Borders: Fighting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

UU Without Borders: Fighting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shout out to First U and fellow ML students

I have been having a bit of a rough stretch - part re-entry from January intensives at Meadville Lombard, part early-mid-life crisis, part parenting struggles. I have been feeling a bit down-hearted. A bit out of sorts - well, more than a bit - there have been days that I don't even want to hang out with me lately.

But you know what, even as I was feeling a loss of faith in this call of mine to ministry, even as I was feeling like a big, fat failure in every area of my life, my church was standing next to me, without even knowing it.

None but a select few of my colleagues, co-facilitators, or friends knew that I was having inner struggles. Nobody knew that I was wrestling with family illness, self-flagellation, and changing life dynamics. But they loved me anyway - just because.

I cannot tell you how many people came up to me last Sunday, or have asked in phone calls, how my schooling is going. I am managing. They told me how much they enjoy my writing, or my speaking, or how excited they are for me. How proud they are to have one of their own pursuing the ministry. People I didn't even know knew that I was out of town for classes and stopped by my table in the lobby to check in with me. I am so humbled by their love and support.

I am awed by the emails going around our small group facilitator's group in support of those of us who are struggling with personal illness, death, and family issues. I am held up by my student colleagues who checked in with me over the last 10 days to see how I was holding up with getting back to real life after the dream-world of J-Term.

I guess this is just a humble post of sheer gratitude. I'm feeling more like myself today, and really credit the love that just lifts me up from all sides. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Growing Edges

I feel like FAIL this last few days. I tried to communicate about some issues on an email loop, and the person decided to ignore me rather than come to some agreement about how to resolve it. I was told that it sounded like bickering, though that was not my intention at all.I'm not sure how else I could have asked about the reasoning for the decisions made. There obviously must have been a better way. Being direct apparently didn't work, and alienated more than one person from the conversation, even though I was not trying to be contentious.

I totally lost my temper with my ex-husband this weekend. I am still trying to recover, and I'm sure he is too.

I am convinced that being honest about another issue, with people I thought would understand, had an obvious cost that is just now apparent.

I believe in open, and honest communication. I believe in clarity. I believe in authenticity. And I believe in resolving things. But I can also be discreet and refrain from observation or judgment because I believe people need to reach their own conclusions. But I feel like crawling under a rock this week.

I think I'll just focus on writing papers and getting caught up and reintegrated with family life and just stay the hell away from everyone else till I feel less like fail. Ugh.