Monday, April 28, 2008

Quick Update-More Later

The sermon went great! I was pretty obviously nervous, but the crowd was kind and some people I didn't even know stood up and applauded (hopefully not out of just sympathy). I was even invited to two different congregations to present it, and another congregation asked if they could use it (giving me full credit ;-). I did receive a couple of constructive criticisms. Both of which were true. One - I abbreviated Unitarian Universalism a little too much to just Unitarianism. It was actually written out as the whole name, but I was so nervous, it just came out as Unitarianism. This person felt that I was dishonoring our Universalist heritage by not including it every time. I did feel bad he felt this way, because I really do value it. So, point taken. Second - I talk too fast. This is well known to me and only gets worse when I am nervous. I did try to slow down and, with practice, I hope to get better. After it was over, though, I was very pleased with how it was received. I hope people came away with a motivated spirit to get the faith out there!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Great Day

You were born smiling and haven't stopped in four years. You are a ray of sunshine in my life. I love you little man! Happy birthday!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Nervous

This is the weekend that I have to give the sermon at DA. I would appreciate any positive thoughts sent my way! I am not the best public speaker and the sermon is very biased towards my ideas. I am getting very nervous that people might expect more that I can deliver or will just completely disagree with my ideas. I am also a little paranoid that I will completely freeze and make a fool of myself. I keep trying to do positive imaging, so hopefully I can psyche myself up to a great sermon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One Little Step

Wouldn't it be great if Earth Day was a day people of the whole world took off just to sit and ponder how they personally could make the Earth a better place? It could be a New Year's Resolution of sorts.

These would be mine for this year:

1. Get back to being more committed to veganism. I have been a vegetarian for over 17 years, but keep slipping when I try to be vegan. So much of the Earth's resources would be saved if people ate more ethically.

2. Eat more local and less packaged food. This will be a little more challenging because, while I love to bake, I am not big on cooking.

3. Line dry my clothes more often. Now that summer is coming, there really is no excuse.

4. Be prudent with the air conditioning. This is hard - I grew up in the North and can not get used to these hot Missouri summers.

5. Try to minimize plastic use to when there is absolutely no alternative.

Alright, this is enough for this year. I already try to recycle as much as possible and minimize travel. As it is, this will be quite a challenge for me. I would love to hear any "resolutions" you might all make for this Earth Day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Quick to Marry?

I have been pondering this for awhile. Basically: Are Unitarian churches/minsters too quick to agree to marry anyone who comes through their door? This came about for a couple of reasons. One, it has (sadly, only recently) come to my attention what a big business the wedding industry is; and how many churches count on rental fees and how many ministers count on the extra income performing weddings provides. Second, we had a very interesting discussion about marriage at my congregations monthly book club in which we discussed our different paths to marriage and why some last and others don't.

For a little background, I'll quickly share my path. My husband and I got engaged after eight months of dating. We were married nine months after that. To many, this seemed awfully quick. I was 22 and he was 24. We have now been married 12 years. We were married in a traditional Catholic service. This was not my choice. But, being only 22 and having a father who insisted upon this, I acquiesced. The wedding was lovely, even though it wasn't exactly what I would have planned. To me, the most important part was that my future husband and I were pledging ourselves to each other, no matter what comes our way.

As some of you may know, though, to get married in a Catholic church, it is a process. We had to attend marriage classes. While many of our friends balked at this, I thought it was a great idea. We had to sit down and really talk about the nuts and bolts of our future life together. Sure we love each other, but how comfortable are we with sharing each other's debt? What are our thoughts on raising our children? Will one of us stay home? Will we be moving around? How does each of us feel about saving money? Will we have separate accounts? How will we handle holidays with our families?, and etc. How many couples really sit down and think about the mundane, but important, aspects of married life? Marriage is so much more than the passion of new love. It is about the commitment for a long term future. It is about growing together and making the promise to support each other. Marriage is not easy and shouldn't be rushed into.

I know many UUs would completely disagree, but I would love to see us develop a program that provides pre-marital services. Now this will show my tiny bit lean towards traditionalism, but I would also like it to be mandatory. Please don't send a me a bunch of negative comments, but this is my opinion and I am going to stand by it. I really believe marriage is a big step and should be respected. As easy as it is to end a marriage, the emotional and financial toll can (and usually is) life altering. Wouldn't it be better to invest a little upfront time? I realize we like to view ourselves as open churches that provide a very needed service for a wide population. I am not advocating that we stop this, but to make it a much deeper experience for those involved. From what I have observed, the minister usually has only met with the pre-marriage couple a handful of times. While it is the decision of the couple to determine how well they know each other and their readiness for marriage, I would love to see our churches/ministers provide a means for them to truly reach that point. Marriage/Commitment ceremonies at our churches should be more that just money making ventures. They should be about assisting couples in building a long, happy, enriching life together.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Real Food

Yep, another food post. I recently read a news article stating that people who ate "real" food tended to be slimmer and healthier. I promptly thought something that I will translate to: No Kidding! A huge pet peeve of mine is all the mass produced "100" calorie snack packs. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list? I am not really sure that there are any recognizable foods in them. They are pretty much just chemicals. Plus, they don't actually taste that great. I rather have one amazing cookie then a bag of cardboard. (not to mention the huge waste in packaging.) I am not sure why people think eating those are any better then having a really good brownie. So what if you can only have one - at least you know what it is made of.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Exciting News

I just learned that I WON the Central Midwest District Sermon contest! I am truly shocked and excited.* I entered the contest as a challenge to myself. I often am critical of sermons and thought that I should "walk the walk" and try to write one. I thought I would try to do this each year as a way to better understand the whole process. I didn't expect to win with the first sermon! I have no idea how many people entered, so I might be flattering myself when, in actuality, I was the only one who participated. I gave myself yesterday to just be excited - today I am petrified that I have to actually stand up and deliver the sermon!! I have not had to talk in front of this many people since college and I am sorely out of practice. I joked with my husband that I will record it onto a cd so if I totally panic, he can just play it. After the conference, I will post the sermon in case you are interested in reading it.

In case anyone from the judging committee is reading this - THANK YOU for giving me this opportunity!

*I am still slightly worried that they actually chose someone else and they just sent me the confirmation as a mistake. Obviously I will immediately delete this post if that is the case!