Sunday, August 31, 2008

Praying for.....politician's children!

I have no idea what I think about all of these stories about Sarah Palin and her family and her daughter and the little wee baby. Well, I know a few things that I think:

I have this odd off balance sense might have been a somewhat better choice for the Republican VP choice. I have been a stay-at-home-mom first and whatever else second for a good sixteen years, when I did work full time, it was swing shift while still homeschooling three kids, isn't that what common culture thinks conservatives like? And then, I never would have even had an amnio because I wouldn't have aborted the child, not because I think abortion is wrong (I don't) but because I believe that for us, a full family with a good job can love and adore just about any child, for as long as we may have them in our lives. And then of course I have homeschooled various kids for years and years, isn't that a hit with conservatives?

OK, some of my views may have troubled a few folks, and I would have turned them down anyway (LOL!!) because I cannot imagine working that kind of an intense job with kids in the home. If my husband or even a grandmother was home to manage it all, well then maybe, but how would you know what was happening in their lives? How would you even know what they were thinking? Who their friends were? Which books they were reading? What hurt their heart? What made them really smile? How do you know that except for putting in the long hours and just really being there? I just don't want to miss that, any of it.

And then what is this doing to that poor sixteen-year-old girl. I mean, the whole world examining her belly? Oh poor dear! And if the mono really was a cover for pregnancy? Well then, don't you just wish she'd had good sex ed (can you say OWL?? And CONDOMS?) and that maybe someone had offered the dear an abortion? Or the option for adoption? Or just a loving "Juno-like" parent response that was all about support and love, not shame? And if it's not really the story, then still...millions of folks are looking at her belly, and wondering about her. Her mother should set the record straight just for her daughter's sake, unless there's no way to do that, then she should come clean and get out. Have some grace.

I wish for all of us just that; some grace.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Really? Vice President

When my 16-year-old son heard about McCain's VP pick this morning, he said "Well, then for sure the Democrats will win, race always comes before gender".

Ouch, that's cynicism. But I know where he got it. We were hanging out with our youth group last winter right about the time Obama came to Seattle. The youth group leader, a lovely young woman about 30-years-old said that of course Obama would be the nominee because race always comes before gender in breaking down barriers. Damn, if she isn't right. Not always, always of course. But still, nearly always.

I tend to be such an optimist, it's painful to even think, but of course it's true.

Still, I think it's a dirty, ugly move that panders to the lowest motives in politics to nominate this woman for VP.

Cynicism aside, I hope he's right.

The speech

So the powerful moment for my family was when the families gathered on the stage after Barack's speech and there was a Chinese Canadian man, a Hapa woman (his sister) black and mixed race African folks along with the whites.

This white house would understand race in a way that no other ever has.

This white house would understand my mixed race family in a way that no other ever has.

We are filled with hope.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Best Speech We've Seen.

Is it just my family's take on it or was that the best speech ever?!

Oh, I'm praying the biggest "please" prayer. Obama as president. Let's start planning the November 4th parties now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fat Babies in the Sun

My nearly grown son is a technical genius, no really he is. He's the church podcaster and resident computer network geek. It must be time for formal education to start up again because this week he's created a video invitation for his little brother's 12th birthday party complete with new computer animation of a space ship and green screened back drops. And he's begun transferring our old home videos to digital format (did you know that there are archive quality dvds? no idea). So we've been watching little fat babies in the sun, and Christmas trees being decorated by tiny little boys. And sweet little faces of cousins and friends and old houses. And baby blessings done by old friend ministers in the old sanctuary at our old church.

It's been a little too distracting with all the work I have to do!

But here's the thing; this delightful young man who serves his denomination on a congregational, district and national level, who patiently picks out the recording of the sermon from the hymns and joys and sorrows every week to podcast, who vacuums the house and makes his brother hash browns, who is taking Calculus and Physics and English Comp AND Enginnering at the community college this fall, this fine young man has been turned down for admission by the high school he's attended for two years.

He's been a transfer student from our mediocre school district where I'm comfortable in a homeschool parent partnership school but not with the regular public schools. And yes, we always knew they could turn him down for re-admission. But why would they? He'll be doing early start college. He'll be out of the building except for swim team and drama. He can't help but raise their test scores. It's kind of like free money from the state and free good scores AND a really fast swimmer!


I emailed the Superintendent of schools today after the last message from the department folks hoping for one last chance at letting him keep the little connection. I got an email back in 12 minutes, they're looking into it.

I almost hope they turn him down and that he goes to Cal Tech or MIT or Harvard and I can write a big fat letter to the editor and name the names of who turned him away. But not really. I just want him to be able to continue the successful ride from homeschool super genius to normal kid at a normal school.

I kind of wish for those days of fat babies in the sun. All it took to care for them well was a cozy snuggle and some sweet nursing and quiet humming. But then, of course, they didn't vacuum!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Survey

You know, I feel like such a new blogger that it seems totally irrelevant for me to answer these questions, but then on the other hand, maybe it's a good idea to hear what a newbie has to say.

I was blogging for my congregation--you know, just the weekly events, updates, kid's scavenger hunt, quarterly parent meeting notes, the back story on the story for all ages from any given Sunday. And then I went to GA and blogged about the week there. I had so many hits every day, I knew it couldn't be just my dear ones at home checking up on what was happening. It was so fun and so good for me to process my thoughts and feelings, I decided to launch a personal UU blog. Sometimes I cross post on both the RE congregation blog and Chalice Spark, sometimes I cross post on my personal blog, too. The life of a religious education professional is kind of that: a cross post of sorts!

Survey Questions

  1. Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog?
    I write to think and sort things out. And as I've heard Ms. Kitty say: I'm such an extrovert that I just have to share my thoughts and experiences, it's so much friendlier together. My only goal is connection.
  2. Who is your intended audience?
    Thoughtful UUs as well as searchers.
  3. Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization?
    This one is mine.
  4. How frequently do you post?
    A few times a week.
  5. What is the tone of your blog?
    Personal, friendly, first person--intimate, it's actually much like the way I tell the Story for All Ages sitting on the floor in front of the pulpit nearly every week.
  6. What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct?
    Maybe I'm just too new for this to have been a problem, we'll see when it comes up, Ms. Kitty did give me some sound advice early on about some particulars.
  7. What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality?
    No particulars, I try hard to tell only my own stories.
  8. How do you respond to comments and email from readers?
    I try to respond, of course always to requests, and also just as a thanks for stopping by.
  9. What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience?
    Thinking that anything I have to say is interesting to anyone else!
  10. What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience?
    Hearing that anyone was affected by what I wrote--or that they used something I the Ten Ways to Take Action post following the shootings in Knoxville.
  11. What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started?
    Read lots of UU blogs. Start with Shelby Meyerhoff's The Interdependent Web and then go to UUpdates. Follow the blogs you seem to like, follow the comments on their posts. Before long you'll have your favorites and maybe do what I do....have coffee with some of your favorite UUs every morning.
  12. How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series?
    Well, the GA series was fun, and the few following the shootings at TVUUC were so good for me to write. Success comes when a mom from the congregation tells me about reading her five-year-old a post about prayer or the Ten Ways to Take Action list winds up in orders of service all over the place. I think it's about the connections with people.
  13. What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging?
    Started a long, long time ago.
  14. What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.
    I'm trying to get Chalice Spark confirmed on Facebook (hint hint!), nothing else yet.
  15. Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have?
    Thank the goddess my dear son is a podcast genius and set this up for me. I have five subscribers, which, pretty good!
  16. Do you track site traffic? How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)?
    I do track hits, and I have no idea what a unique visitor is!
  17. Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers?
    Hmmm.....I have no idea what is out there for support. This is probably a more personal blog than many, and the RE Blog for my congregation is pretty straightforward. Now if I didn't live with a techie genius I could probably use some tech support. And this new support on the UUA website will be helpful especially for new folks, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Church Family

It was a wonderful visit, OK, some of us had to stand by for six whole flights over a span of about eleven hours, but we got there. And we got to see family. No most of them were not related by anything but the sheer power of love and time and some wild things we've gone through. But what a treat.

When my kids were born and I started to notice that we really were an actual family we went back to the little UU Fellowship that I'd been raised in. It was bigger than it was when I was a kid and had a minister and eventually other families with young kids. It was one place that was really home. Safe.

One day during this last trip I got to spend a lazy day with members of my church family. Not the one I have now, the old one. The kids are all so much older, and the moms are still my dear friends, even if we only see each other a few times a year. And I got to have a conversation with one of the nearly grown young women. We were sitting in the humid mid-west afternoon talking about college and career and her ripe future and I swear it was a big holy spirit poke; her little three-year-old face shone right through the young woman. I remembered her first day at our church. I was teaching the preschool class, and she was there for the very first time, and somehow she'd gotten a hold of an old book about Hansel and Gretel that was still on the shelf. This child was following me around demanding to know just what happened to those children with that oven. Ah! I was a twenty-something sleep deprived over worked volunteer! I had no idea how to handle this, and I'm sure I did it very poorly "ahhh, nothing really, the witch was just not a nice person..."

But clearly it didn't break her, and her family came back. And they're still there. And they're still a part of our lives. She IMs with my almost grown son, and we visit when we can, and if I'm very, very lucky, maybe she'll even come to Seattle for college, and I'll get to invite her for Thanksgiving dinner and lunches out and she'll eventually forgive me for not being straight up about that whole oven business. And I pray I'll always be able to see her little three year old face right through the grown woman.

Tomorrow I get to deliver a passel of luggage that another old church family member left with us this summer. The youngest son is coming to Seattle for school. I hadn't seen them, any of the family, in years but we're the only folks they know here, so his trunk has been stored in my garage since the apartment search visit this summer. And tomorrow after my church service I'll stop by his new apartment and leave behind the trunk and IKEA packages with his roommate so when he arrives late tomorrow he has a place to sleep. And my phone number, so if he needs anything, he can call me. Anytime.

Family. Church family. Can it be possible that my beloved work helps to create a place for this to happen for other families? Oh, it's almost too good to be true, but I think it just might be.

Good tears, good luck and oh such good family.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fresh home

It's been a 100 meter sprint here lately at my house--over, and over again. Just when I think I can sit down and breathe for a second "POW" that starter goes off again and I'm running to something else. Today we finally got to sit down to a family dinner; it felt like a week since all the stooges and the mom and dad were together. And since the budget is a little broke, we had a nice depression era dinner s t r e t c h i n g a few chicken breasts diced up with a thick gravy for the carnivores, and a nice lentil stew for me to pour over some potatoes that had to be radically peeled and boiled and mashed to be made good.

But there was conversation and laughing and I think only once did a teen aged boy say the word "moron" to his brother.

Oh, it was nice.

Then the very nearly 17-year-old made brownies, which is really nothing new for a chocolate fiend, but here's the thing; he cleaned up. I mean, he really cleaned up the cooking mess. He rinsed the bowl and added it to the dishwasher and then even started the dishwasher. And he wiped down the counter. All the fixin's got put away. I couldn't even tell someone had been baking.

Oh, it was really nice!

And the brownies were not just good, they were served with ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. Those kind of brownies have absolutely no Weight Watchers points, I call it.

The song that keeps going through my head is that old John Denver song with the line "Hey, it's good to be back home again". OK, so we fly out tomorrow at the crack of dawn for one last visit with family this summer, but home isn't at all where we sit and eat or where we bake our brownies. Home is us, it's our crew together and us just being us.

It's good to be back home again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Story for All Ages on Prayer 8-10-08

I've heard some talk in the news lately about whether or not Unitarian Universalists pray. Well, I'm a Unitarian Universalist and I pray, so I guess there's at least one of us!

Oh, lots of you do, too? OK, then yes, I guess some of us do pray. You know kids, we're lucky. I grew up UU and you're growing up UU so for us that word "pray" isn't weighed down with stones like it is for some people who were taught who to pray to and exactly how to pray.

There is this place deep inside, you could never see it on an x-ray. Your doctor couldn't find it. It's in your soul. It's the most quiet and peaceful place ever. For me prayer is like a key to open the door to that place. There are other ways to get there, but this is a way for me to get there right away.

Now there are lots of ways to pray. I'll show you a couple and if you choose to join me, you can but you really don't have to.

First, we'll try silent prayer. I like to make a cup with my hands and either hold them together in my lap or out and up on the sides. This helps me catch the energy from the beautiful universe and from you and from the trees and the ocean and the sky and the whole planet. Then I do "peace-love" breathe in peace, breathe out love. And I close my eyes, and I just sit. Let's try it together. (hands*peace-love*close eyes*sit)


Wow. I don't want to stop! But there are more ways to pray.

Sometimes words get in the way, because we're praying a "please" prayer or a "thank you" prayer or a "wish" prayer. So, sometimes it's nice to have the words written by someone else, so you can pay attention to the feelings. Here's a birthday blessing: (from "A Child's Book of Blessings and Prayers, Collected by Eliza Blanchard, Illustrated by Rocco Baviera)

On your birthday we pray
Green be the grass you walk on,
Blue be the skies above you,
Pure be the joys that surround you,
True be the hearts that love you
--Irish Blessing

That's nice isn't it?

And sometimes we pray with our bodies. We just said it this morning in our unison affirmation "Service is our prayer" some people here care so much about our church community and have such a wish that we have a wonderful Sunday that they got here early to offer their service. Like the greeter who smiled at you and made sure you had the right hymnal, that was their prayer. And the people who did the "ministry of the chairs" and got here to set up all these chairs we're sitting in, you could say that was their prayer.

And sometimes, if maybe you've eaten too much chocolate and didn't really get enough sleep the night before and maybe something exciting is about to happen and your body just is feeling all wild, well then you can do a body prayer and find that little place inside again. Here's one we can all try together:

The beautiful sky (hold hands like you're feeling the rain)
The clean fresh air (reach up to the sky)
The people near by (reach out and touch the hands of the people near you)
The world we share (make a big circle in front of you)
I'm lucky to be the real me (hug yourself)

Yeah, that feels good! You can do it without the out loud words just about anytime you want to, it can really help.

And finally, we all know how much I love to sing. and sometimes we can pray with a song. This song is a "thank you" song. I'll sing a line and you be my echo. (1010 in Singing the Journey)

Oh we give thanks
For this precious day
For those gathered here
And those far away
For the time we share
With love and care
Oh we give thanks
For this precious day!

Thanks for praying with me everyone! Maybe this can help you open the door to your special quiet place in you soul whever you want to. Let's go now in peace!

Monday, August 4, 2008


This morning the first words out of my mouth were "stupid bitch". Yeah, there's walking the path of peace and love, hey? I was only talking to my alarm clock, and I guess the thing is probably used to it. But gee whiz, I was already down juju with awakening consciousness.

My vacation is over. It's time to work again, and for a religious educator that means we make our little plans with the hours carved out for reflection and exercise and family time and, hell for personal hygiene, but what really happens is we sprint through the days overwhelmed with curriculum prep, supply closet nightmares, volunteer management heroics and somewhere in there; formation of amazing ministry to families. Hours at the office morph into hours at the coffee shop, a laptop at the soccer field, internet research as the pasta boils and phone hours from dawn to way past dusk.

But it's OK. By the time the leaves turn things settle way down. And the rhythm is good. Busy, calm. Verdant, fallow. Harried and well groomed!

And I love my work. Yesterday it was so very good to be back. I got to tell a story for all ages and because I really do feel like Eeyore with the rain cloud I handed them all little cocktail umbrellas. It is, after all, my job to give them life umbrellas so when things rain, they have some place to keep warm and dry.

And I got to lead music because we're a small group and things just so happened that everyone we know who can play the hymns on piano was not able to be with us; so I got to play my guitar and I was almost acceptable. But there was so much love between the chords that didn't quite hit right that it was OK. It really was. And when I'm up there being acceptable and not perfect, well it lets us all be good enough just as is.

And I let a huge gaggle of kids go downstairs with an RE Council member who hadn't led a class before with only a few Middle School helpers. I just trusted all would be fine, and it was.

I really do love my job.

The minister I serve with asked me to light the chalice yesterday in honor of our shared ministry. What an honor. This whole gig, what an honor it is! What an honor.

And now my daily planner says "Go for a walk on the path" so I'd better do what it says. I'm already down juju for the day.