Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't Forget Yourself

As many of you know, I act as the volunteer membership coordinator for my congregation. While I enjoy this very much, I realized last night, it is pretty much all I have done at church this year. Almost all of my church activities have revolved around some aspect of this work. I have been trying to meet the needs of visitors, members, church staff, but have not allotted time to meet my needs. I should know better. Having been a social worker, I know how easy it is to get so involved in your clients lives that you risk losing out on your own. There is a reason that social work has such a high burn-out rate. I know many of us are dedicated to our congregations and try to make them the best they can be. Our congregations need volunteers, without them, they would not thrive. But, I encourage you to make sure that you partake in something completely for you; that fulfills your spiritual needs and does not require more of you then just being present and participating. Last night, we reformed our theological book club and met again after a very long hiatus. I hadn't realized how much I loved this group and our very lively discussions. I left feeling refreshed and excited. I hope you take the time to find something that refuels you!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pointed Language

Yesterday we had a guest speaker at church. We were celebrating UUSC Sunday and their efforts in honoring the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. Our speaker spoke on Fair Trade and its importance in human rights. She was very powerful. While her voice and style were very laid-back, her language and choice of words were not. She really challenged the congregation to look at themselves and whether or not they were an oppressor or liberator in their purchasing choices. She also did not hold back in listing the ramifications and power our choices made in the lives of people around the world. It was hard not to feel at least a little uncomfortable in her word choices. She did not hold back in us owning up to our responsibility as consumers. I, personally, was glad she chose to be so direct. I talked to her about it later and she admitted that she had debated whether or not to soften the language. In the end, she went with it. Everything she said was true. I have no doubt people felt uneasy with some of what she said, but I hope it made people more aware of how things they take for granted have a world-wide impact.

After listening to her, I was wishing that we would hear more sermons like that. Ones that really put it out there and challenge you to action. But, I realize, this is not so easy for a minister to do. Sure, a guest speaker can come in and say all sorts of things - they don't have to answer to the congregation. Ministers do, especially in a UU church. Within congregations there is such a wide swath of beliefs it is hard to deliver a sermon that can inspire and challenge without offending and discouraging. It really is a fine line. I would encourage any ministers reading this, though, to gently push the envelope. Sometimes the way to waken a congregation is to get them riled up. A little passionate discussion can help them focus on what they, as a congregation, are called to do. A congregation with a strong mission is one that inspires and fulfills the spiritual needs of its members. It is one that becomes a light within the community.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

High Tech Book Club

I have been part of a wonderful book club for almost nine years. Last night, we took it to a whole new level. Thanks to Skype and a mutual friendship we were able to talk with the wonderful author of The Birth House, Ami McKay. It was really cool. Our techie member, J., was able to hook up her computer to the TV and, just like that, via Skype, we were talking face-to-face with Ami. The Birth House has been a huge hit in Canada, where she lives and the book takes place. It is slowly, word of mouth, picking up steam in the U.S. I would highly recommend it. I can't tell you how great it was to actually be able to ask all our questions to the author - and she very engagingly answered them. We were able to hear how the story developed and the different possibilities she had for her characters. It was a nice back and forth between us and Ami. We enjoyed the experience and I hope she felt the same. I don't know if we will have this opportunity again, but it was a whole new way to have book club. Thank You Ami!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Everywhere I turn

It seems like Obama is talking. Am I the only one who feels this way? Does it seem like too much?

Monday, March 23, 2009

13 Years

Today, on a cold, snowy, rainy day in Iowa, husband and I were married. It is hard to believe thirteen years have already gone by. When I look back, it is amazing how many things we have been through. I am sure my 22 year old self could not have predicted that this is where I would be. But here I am. And I feel like one of the luckiest people on Earth.

Happy Anniversary, M.!

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House Garden

I am so glad to read that the Obama's are starting a garden at the White House. I hope they turn it into a real educational experience for the country. I also hope they keep it on a scale to where us "average" folk without a ground crew will feel that we, too, can have a productive and practical garden.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nacht Spaziergang - III

Don't forget to look up, otherwise you might miss the beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Garden Update

Spring is definitely on its way! As promised, here are some garden shots. I thought I would post them once a month so you all can see the progress (and to keep me on task!).

Seed starts: 3 types of tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, jalapenos, leeks, and one cabbage. I finally received my last order of tomato seeds so I will start those today.

Garden plot (so much promise...)

Garden (close-up): Garlic is sprouting and rhubarb is peeking through.

Strawberry patch - this is a partial view of the couple that made it through the winter. A separate area from the main garden.

Cooking Herb box: oregano, chives, sage and thyme are coming back. I will plant a lot of basil!

Medicinal Herb box: so far just valerian is back. I imagine marshmallow will make its appearance soon.
The garden is still pretty empty, but I am sure by May, it will be quite a beautiful sight!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shout out to Yes! Magazine

I have already mentioned how much I like this magazine, but now want to draw your attention to the latest issue - Spring 2009. This issue is all about food - not recipes but its production, sustainability, and culture. I really encourage you to go out and read it. It is full of encouraging stories of how people on local and international levels are bringing about the sustainable food revolution. I know there have been lots of discussions on this topic and lots of books delving into this necessity, but Yes! has put together an issue on how people are doing this. As you may have noticed, I am already very interested in this subject but often fall into "food fatigue" or just plain laziness. The Spring issue has really re-motivated me to get back into the garden and look for ways to encourage others to think about they eat and the impact their choices make.

You can find Yes! at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/

Monday, March 9, 2009

No More Buses

Due to the "tough economic times", our areas Metro Bus Service route's have been greatly reduced. I live in a far northern suburb that is mostly middle/working class with many residents relying on the bus. I have been noticing more and more signs up warning riders that as of March 31st, the bus will no longer stop there. In a previous life, I worked with local resettled refugees. Most of them very dependent upon the bus. It saddens me, because this is such a vicious cycle. My neighbors and my former clients want to work but don't have access to reliable transportation. Our bus system was already not ideal and now is just becoming pathetic. I have no doubt that it costs a lot of money to run bus routes, but it is such a short term solution. It is yet another obstacle people will need to overcome to find a job in an already competitive market. Additionally, it does not behoove anyone to have residents who are unable to find work because there is no bus to take them to or from a job. Obviously, if a person can't get to work, they can't pay the rent/mortgage. I know people will suggest carpooling. Which is great when it is established and the person driving has a reliable vehicle, but often falls apart when the car breaks down, the person changes jobs or becomes ill. Public transportation is needed to keep local economies vibrant and people of all income levels employed. Cities and counties really need to take a look at their priorities and whether or not it makes sense for them to put up more obstacles to their citizens' futures.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Feeling the Promise of Spring

There is something about each season I love. But, what I love more is the change each one brings. With the return of all the song birds, I am feeling the lightness that signals Spring is on the way. The hibernation and calm of Winter is slowly slipping away to the promise of new growth and activity of Spring. I am very much looking forward to it!