Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

What a nice day at church, today. Busy, busy, busy as always. We have quite a run of kids turning seven, so today we had another "Chalice Child" lighting the chalice for the first time. This young lady wore a beautiful full white gown and filled the altar with the things she loves (namely American Girl dolls and horses, horses horses!). Her family celebrated with the congregation by bringing a huge rose covered sheet cake, and then went out for a special lunch with friends afterward. I love this tradition we have. It's such an honor to stand before the congregation with the child as they are formally introduced to their church. I get to whisper to them "OK, sign your name right here in the chalice lighter's book, now light the candle, now we just smile at Rev. Peg....OK! Great job, you can go sit with your folks!" It's very special, such an honor.

Then following the service we had another congregational meeting, more steps to buy this building. Knock on wood everyone, it's looking more and more like it might actually happen. Or prayers. We'd love prayers. And if someone wants to have a bake sale and sponsor a stock pot for the new kitchen or paint for a classroom, heck, we'd take that too! During these meetings I try to release all the teachers so that they can go participate in the life of the congregation. For meetings we know will go long I arrange for adult children of members to come provide child care, or other members of the community who are not official members. But this one we guessed would go 20 minutes, maybe 30. Not a big deal. And winter attendance is usually kind of low. So I figured we'd just handle it.

All the classes released their kids to the fellowship hall, and we watched a movie. I'd had some superb help popping four batches of popcorn from a fine five-year-old and his stuffed husky, so we watched a video about wild animals and ate popcorn. I recruited the middle schoolers to help--one stationed at the door that goes outside to prevent escapees, one at the food table helping kids get popcorn (and squirting the hand sanitizer!) and a couple roaming and helping. Part way through the video we ran out of popcorn--so the older girls went off to fire up the air popper. It was so nice. I love those low key moments with our kids; shared community, shared time. Just hanging out. I know soon we'll be too big to do this kind of thing on a regular basis, but I hope we find a way to keep hanging out in small groups.

Eventually the little girls got a little tired of polar animals on the video, so we grabbed a roll of paper, spread it about 20 feet across the floor and they colored. Just about the time we'd really pulled all the sharpies out of the marker box (how DO they keep getting in there?) the adults came down. Four unanimous votes. All yes. All good, moving forward. Man, the popcorn made a huge mess, but many parents came along with brooms and vacuums and whisked the mess away. Tickety boo, all cleaned up, all good. Happy kids, happy parents, happy teachers, happy religious educator. Happy.

It was fun having Peter Morales with us last night, but it was more fun just having a regular Sunday.

A lovely, lovely day.

I love my crazy job.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Peter Morales at Westside UU Congregation!

We are such a lucky little church. Or well, a lucky midsized church. The president of the UUA made time in his schedule to visit with us. I know he's here to preach at University Unitarian and I know his son lives in town, but hour and a half with us. That was fabulous.

We got to hear some about his vision and hope for Unitarian Universalists. And he told us a little about how his congregation in Golden had intentionally grown after being stuck at 400 for years.

I wanted to say "wait, you should just ask these folks here what to do to grow a small urban congregation that rents space! We grew from 100-150 in five years! From 23 kids to 80 in five years! Here are your experts in keeping the heart while growing! Here's the people who went from a building fund of 17k to about to move in to a new home in three months!"

But I kept quiet about all of that. The congregation I serve is full of wonderful people who really know how to do church well. But there is always something to be learned from someone who's been through it.

I am wildly proud of my congregation. It's such good work, this crazy job I have. And I am so grateful to serve these people. With Peter's vision and our commitment to a fierce and abiding love that does not back down, I think some amazing things are about to happen.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Mommy Post

So much awful news from Haiti.........have to put it down for a moment.

And in Massachusetts. Really? A republican? In the middle of health care reform? I hope the early results turn around. I can't really look at it until we know more.

But being a mom. That's one I'm pretty used to.

I've been thinking a lot about money lately. The job change my husband made has been fabulous for our family. Can you say two cars in the garage, four bikes on pulleys on the ceiling and about six trips to donate at Goodwill? Oh yeah. It's good. We're all much happier. The routine around here is calm; I do the most travel which amounts to about three times a year.

I'm so happy he made the change. But while we knew he'd make less money, he is making a lot less than we thought. It's fine, we're not going to starve or anything, and hey--going out to eat is bad for your health anyhow, right? And children SHOULD wear hand me down clothing even if it's not the current "Style" it builds character. We're fine. It's all good.

But we have a child going to college next year, and next to no savings. Money is going to be a real issue here at the homestead.

I have been feeling very, very guilty for working only half time (OK, yes, I work more HOURS, but whatever). I feel like I should work more-better-different. Why didn't I get that Law Degree? OK, never mind that there are more lawyers than ever working at Starbucks. I should go get a night job at the local Irish Pub, I LOVE serving beer to crazy crowds....yes, I actually do love being a server--I love the energy and the rush and the fun.....but at the pub they have to wear little school girl plaid skirts......and I don't think that would work now that I'm 42. Nope. So what can I do? Teach an evening class? Write again and try to make money? Discover a rich relative? Beg?

No. Probably none of those things. And what strikes me as really funny is the newness of this feeling for women. My mother worked when she was a single mother, yes. But when she got married again the expected thing was for her to stop working and stay home with the children. And yes, later she worked as a defacto social worker running an inner city daycare center, and worked from then on--even now working pushing veterans in wheelchairs at the VA. But when she was home raising children, that was what was expected. Not working, but managing family life.

What's expected from our culture for me, just a generation later, is to be out making money; career, contribute. Be fulfilled through what I do.

I love what I do for work. It's fabulous. But it's not about the money. And it's not even full time. Maybe I should have done that "career that makes good money" thing.

MONEY! (grump)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Raising Funds for the people of Haiti......and awe.

I had a "to do" list this week that could choke a horse, well that is if a horse would eat it. I kept trying to find one that would, but no luck.

No, not really. I love my work, love my family, love my volunteer work on the LREDA board (why oh why oh why are ALL the GA deadlines on January 15th? OK, not all but it sure felt like it!) But still, it was a heck of a list.

But sometimes things just have to wait. And you have to be ready to take on the really important things. Sometimes it's a family issue, and you just have to drop some project or activity and focus on a child for a few hours, or a few days or weeks or even months or years. It's always worth it.

Sometimes a clean house is just out of the question--yes even for weeks or months. Other things need to get done and everyone has to learn to deal with the piles of crap everywhere.

Sometimes it's just some of the daily things that seem to be urgent--sometimes there's a wake up call and it puts everything in perspective.

Like this horrible tragedy in Haiti.

I have a very odd talent for being able to feed large groups of people. It's nothing I've worked on, I think I was born this way. And I knew that even if no one else had time to help, that I wanted to have a benefit lunch to raise funds for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at church this week. We made a quick plan, I knew I could get everything at the local restaurant supply store for about $100--and the minister sent out a group email announcing the lunch and telling people to contact me if they wanted to help.

Here's the awe. Almost immediately I got a whole slew of emails offering to make food, bring food, set up, clean up, serve. Offers to help. We were all looking for a way to turn our grief into action. I let things settle for a day, made a list of what we needed, divided it up and sent out the assigned food. It took all of 20 minutes.

And we raised over $800. EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS! 149 members! A holiday weekend! Wow.

Top it off? My son led the service this morning. And he preached. And he was great. And his friend, also a teen, preached and was great, too.

That's enough day for me. I'm putting on yoga pants and watching me some Golden Globes. No, it's not on that monster "to do" list! Not on any list. I'm still doing it. The guys are going to a guy movie, the little dog and I will cuddle up and see what all this fuss is about Paul McCartney's neck wear and celebrate a wonderful day!

I am deeply blessed and deeply grateful.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help for Haiti--Order of Service Insert!

Feeling helpless isn't something I like to do. Nope. Not that I never feel helpless. Like, take now. All the suffering and pain in Haiti? Oh I feel it. Deeply. But sit with it? No way. I think it has something to do with being raised in a fiery Unitarian Universalist Fellowship who never took anything without a fight.

So, we're having a lunch at my church; "Help Haiti!" It's a lunch to benefit the efforts of UUSC/UUA to help the people of Haiti. I had such a fabulous response to the announcement of the lunch, that we added a bake sale. Kids can knead and make no-bakes and at least do something to help

Not helpless.

And UUSC created an insert for the bulletin for Sunday morning. Very cool.

At least a little bit less helpless.

Blessings All~

Monday, January 11, 2010

WSUU Kicks off our Capital Campaign!

We still have no news on the church building that we're trying to buy.....but we did kick off the capital campaign this week.

It was a ton of fun! I've posted the first part of the morning. Most of the congregation had no idea what was going to happen! After singing the grown ups out we had a mock up of what the church might look like; chalice filled stained glass windows on the walls, chairs lined up like the pews, and at the front--a board meeting in the year 2035! Tons of fun! But, it was dark and so we got kind of iffy video.....maybe we'll just have to post it later anyway, the kids were so great. Big thanks to all the families involved and to the Minister of Music at Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship, Sonja Johnston, for permission to use the original "Need a Bigger Building".

Class in the bathroom

Class in the cold dark basement—with no windows there

Class in the closets

We’ve grown so much that we can’t fit another kid in….

Yes we need a bigger building

Right this very minute

Need a bigger building

A church home of our own

Oh yes we need a bigger building


We know church is about the people

Man we sure could use a steeple

Host family promise

Host some crucial vital town hall forums and

Feed homeless children, we’ll build a school and then we’ll

Change the whole world right here!

Yes we need a bigger building

Right this very minute

Need a bigger building

A church home of our own

Oh yes we need a bigger building


Need a bigger building now!

Home of our own!

Home of our own!

Home of our own!

Home of our own!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Philocrites signs off

I got a follow request from Chris Walton, editor of the UU World, on twitter. Now...I think I am the most pitiful person at tweeting on the planet. If I could tie my facebook status update to twitter I'd be fine, I update that thing an embarrassing number of times every day, but that's too much technology for me to sort out. Old school here. Anyway, I shrugged "whatever". If Philocrites wants to hear about my little dog and my crazy job, that's his mental health issue.

Then I noticed other bloggers paying tribute to the Philocrites blog.




I'm reminded of Steve Caldwell and this thing he told me that is my new mantra: "Kill it before it dies". Good advice. Chris is wise to say "I'm moving on."

I started blogging here in the summer of 2008 after GA (importing the GA blogs I'd written in Ft Lauderdale for my little church-family blog). That must have been just about the time little Philo was born and Philocrites was pretty busy doing the good work of raising a child. I didn't see him being super active in the blog world. But it's a good choice because if you take your eye off the baby he'll do what mine did and learn to drive, turn 18 and for God's Sake-- go to college of all unthinkable things. You gotta watch like a hawk.

But I did read the Philocrites blog--old posts were new to me. And almost every time I finished a post I'd rush to go and delete my whole blog, I was completely unworthy. The intelligent, thoughtful and insightful posts Chris wrote were always like a full meal deal of a read. Powerful stuff.

In the UU Blogosphere we still have the consistent inspiration of Boston Unitarian. The lovely snark of Chalice Chick at The Chalice Blog. Peter Bowden's wicked enthusiasm at the UU Growth Blog. Lots of others, but nothing quite the same.

Thanks for the fabulous work, Philocrites. And thanks for leaving your blog up for us to read. You'll be sorely missed, and long revered.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The New Year

It's been quite a decade.

On New Year's Eve 1999 my family had recently moved into our second house in Minnesota. We had an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old and a three-year-old. We hand't yet begun homeschooling. I worked for the Y. My husband and I had what we thought was a completely unshakable marriage.

It's been quite a decade.

I'm thankful to be 42; thankful to have learned a lot about myself and the odd species to which I belong. Most of the people who I loved ten years ago are still in my life, that's wildly lucky. We have friends who are like family here in Washington. Our sons have become young men, and we now have a marriage that is clearly very shakable--we've just decided not to shake it.

Good stuff.

The years go by faster and faster. And while yes, our dreams may be "all dead, nothing more than confetti on the floor..." it's OK. New dreams grow. Better dreams? Maybe, surely dreams grounded in real life. Happiness becomes a slow warming not a wildfire. Love is deep and solid--a river that's settled into it's banks. It's good.

I pray for love and peace, for joy, for sweetness and hope-- through the new decade and beyond. May it be so.