Thursday, May 31, 2007

Welcoming Congregation and Controversy

I agree with Peacebang about giving a church that you are serving as a professional, total "blog silence" (like radio silence). (Unless it's a church-sanctioned blog.) I don't extend that to the church that I am a member of. So long as I can maintain a certain level of anonymity and am speaking in generalities about the church as a whole, (as opposed to speaking about certain members), I feel comfortable sharing. I hope that some of the things I muse on might strike a chord with others. I know that I occasionally feel alone in the wilderness and I learn so much when I read about someone going through something similar.

As I have subtly and not-so-subtly touched on, we have some important votes coming up in our congregation. It occurred to me today that we're having an "only in a UU church" moment. It is humorous, to me anyway, as well as part of it being frustrating.

One of the things we will be voting on is whether to become a welcoming congregation. Will we make the effort to not only welcome the GLBT community, but to make changes to be more inclusive?

That's not the controversy.

The controversy is about having a disruptive behavior policy.

Only in a UU church ... though it frustrates me (the disruptive behavior policy part -- I'm pleased as punch that it seems "Welcoming Congregation" is a "yeah, of course!"), I am glad that if we have to have a controversy, it falls that way.

Fish Heads ...

A break from our normal programming.

I just felt the urge to share with you that right now, an 11 year old boy, an almost-5 year old girl, and an almost-8 year old girl are running around our house, singing at the top of their lungs:


They are pursued by a just-turned-2 year old girl, singing, "Ro ... Po ... YUM!"

Just another day in paradise. Or the nuthouse. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Back to Egypt Committee

You do know about the Back to Egypt Committee, right? I assure you, your church has one. I just hope you're not on it.

If you google "Back to Egypt Committee," you will get links to sermons from Methodists, Presybyterians, and yes, even Unitarians. I imagine if I searched harder, I could find links to practically every religion. Most ministers will tell you that every church has a Back to Egypt committee. Doesn't matter the theology.

IN EXODUS 16, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, we learn that only 15 days into their second month, the people whom Moses had led out of Egypt began to grumble. Can't you just hear them? "Weeee don't want to go on. Weeeee should have stayed in Egypt. Yeah, we were slaves, but it's hot out here and I'm hungryyy and I wanna go hooooooome ..."

The first Back to Egypt Committee.

Change is hard. But change can lead to great new things. Have faith, friends.

Onward and upward.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Church -- Round Ligament Pain!

I knew this felt familiar! After four pregnancies, you would have thought I'd have recognized it sooner.

"The round ligaments surround your uterus in your pelvis. As your uterus grows during pregnancy, the ligaments stretch and thicken to accommodate and support it. These changes can occasionally cause pain on one or both sides of your abdomen."

Our church is experiencing round ligament pain. Growing pains.

All those years of going to UU conferences and such are coming back to me. What do they always say ... "transitioning from one size church to another will cause growing pains."


Announcing new site: The Weight of the World

Sunday, May 27, 2007

How to Kill a Church in Eight Easy Steps

1. Hate authority. Assume that the minister and anyone who is on the Board is simply power-hungry and they want to strip you of all that you value. And make you clean the latrines with a toothbrush.

2. Give opinions on matters in which you haven't adequately educated yourself. If a new proposed policy is sent out, don't read it. It's too long and boring. Listen to hear others' opinions. Begin saying the same things. When someone asks, "but did you read it?", explain that you didn't have time to.

3. Decide that a church should never ask for money. Greedy louts.

4. Believe that a church should never ask people to do things. The church is there to feed and entertain you, period.

5. When you decide that you do want to do something, throw a fit if you aren't immediately allowed to chair whatever it is you're interested in.

6. Do not read books about your denomination. Do not go to denominational meetings. Your church is the only UU church in the world. Nothing anyone else does could have any bearing on what you do.

7. Assume that you were born with more knowledge than anyone else could ever accumulate.

8. If there are any movements toward the church becoming larger, or being run in a more professional way, begin bitterly telling everyone that there's too much red tape, too much policy, and that we don't need this, we're all one big happy family.

The Journey Back Up and Accessible

Apologies for temporarily locking down my blog. Our church is (you may have surmised) going through an extremely contentious time and I discovered that my blog came up on the first page of Google if one were searching the below topic. Like others have done, I struggled a bit with the idea that my anonymous blog might become a stop for some in my "real life" whom I don't really want reading my deepest darkest.

But -- again, like PB and I think Cuumbaya and whomever else, I came to say, "So what?" In the immortal words of Popeye, I yam what I yam.

And thanks to the sometimes ranting, sometimes meandering Rev for pointing out the obvious sense of humor in G-d. (A tip of the hat to his "other" religion.)

I'm back. A new post will be posted forthwith. Prithee. Aye, aye.

Friday, May 25, 2007


What does it mean, that our church is having a knock-down, drag-out over creating a "bad behavior" policy?

This is as funny as when two guys nearly got in a fistfight over a proposed church name change, wherein the main proposed new name was "Harmony" church.

(Hangs head, shaking it in disbelief.)

God is giving me many, many lessons to take with me into ministerial work. OR God is trying really, really hard to dissuade me from the Call.

Not sure which.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Policy -- Help

Lizard Eater needs your help.

If you have a policy for "bad behavior" at your church, do you think it's good, bad, unnecessary, vitally important, what?

Let me know. You can put it in comments or if you prefer, email me at the given address.

Many thanks and muchas smoochas.

Happy Birthday, Little Warrior!

She is two years old today. What a difference between this year and last.

Classify these as good times.
Good times.
-- Willie Nelson

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Doesn't Hebrews sound like it would be in the Old Testament?"

Okay, so my seminary story.

First day of class. Small class, about 10 of us, around a table. Professor asks everyone to take out their Bibles. Bunch of well-worn, ragged Bibles come out. And mine, bright, tight and white.

"Turn to Hebrews 11:12."


As if in one movement, all my fellow students instantly open their Bibles to Hebrews 11:12.

Doesn't Hebrews sound like it would be in the Old Testament?

Thumb, thumb. Hmm. Thumb, thumb. Try to make myself invisible. Discreetly try to gauge the percentage into their tomes everyone has turned. Finally find it. And they're off again. This time, to one of those tiny books of the New Testament that you can only find if you just happen to know that Philippians is between Ephesians and Colossians. And you know where those are.

So, maybe I can somehow absorb the little kid's ditty. And just to be on the safe side, I'm ordering some of these.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lizard-Podding to Enlightenment

Okay, that's a little grandiose. Rather than enlightenment, sub in "interesting spiritual ideas."

On the Lizardpod right now:

* John Lennon, I Don't Believe
* XTC, Dear God
* "Shug Avery," Maybe God is Trying to Tell You Something
* Sounds of Blackness, Hallelujah, Lord!
* Various Kids, Books of the Bible*
* O Happy Day, Edwin Hawkins singers
* Uncloudy Day, Willie Nelson

And a bunch of other songs. Sparks, Sonic Youth, Pink, Howard Jones, Nirvana, Sam Phillips, Rancid ...

Out of all of that, the song that's given me my breakthrough moment:

Howard Jones, No One is To Blame.

I blogged previously about this song, and reacting to the "And you want her, and she wants you," lines, interpreting them as Me and Seminary or Me and Ministry. It does, sometimes, take me several days to "get it." If I found a burning bush, I'd probably assume it was there for me to cook hotdogs over.

Okay, so ... how about Me and God. And how about if the important part of that little pop song isn't about want, it's the titular line.

No one is to blame.

Sounds pretty simplistic. Sometimes, I guess the simple is what gets you.

Little Warrior getting cancer. No one is to blame. Which I knew on one level, but hadn't really accepted on another level. So I'm thinking about this, as I do my laps, listening to the 80's pop hit, thinking, No one is to blame. I'm not to blame, God isn't to blame, no one is to blame. Nothing new there.

And this feeling hits me. This thought. So, since God isn't to blame -- you've always known that -- what do you think about "God" (the universe, that which is not us, the great unknowable, that that we are all a part of) grieving with you? God, (the universe, etc.) "saying," for want of a better word:

I'm sorry. This big thing that we're all apart of, it has processes that are all set in place. We can work within that framework, but the framework -- the natural world -- is not something that can be changed for individual circumstance. When you grieved, I grieved. We were both in sorrow that the magnificent creature that is LW was stricken with cancer.

When you grieved, I grieved.

Even being raised Unitarian, it was a really new idea for me. The idea that "God" (I'm not going through the undefinition again), is not a father figure, not a problem-solver per se, and definitely not the "it was then that I carried you" vision of bookmarks and condolence cards.

God, personified as the person who, when you fall to your knees on the beach, sobbing, doesn't pick you up. Doesn't comfort you. But cries along with you. Huddles with you on the beach.

I know that for some, this is blasphemy. For others, it is an immature vision of the great "I am." Oh, I could go on listing all of the thoughts others might have on this.

But for me ... I found it extremely comforting.

* a probably futile attempt to avoid a repeat of my first experience in seminary. Repeated many times. A story I'll share later.

Friday, May 18, 2007

When I think of Jerry Falwell, I feel sad

Not about his death. I mean, not that it makes me happy. I'm just not mourning him.

But I feel sad about the person he was. Because I grew up surrounded by Jerry-Falwell-wannabes. People who I genuinely feel were good at heart, but were so sheltered, and so devoid of spiritual curiosity, that they were willing to go along with a lot of hate. Without even thinking about it.

Like my high school principal, who helped me out in some ways, but who, when I told him about my new boyfriend, joked, "Is he black?"* (Because the worst thing a good little white girl could do was date someone of color.)

Like one of my college boyfriends (whom I went to high school with), who got back in touch with me a couple of years ago. After the initial catching up, he delved into my UUism and touted Pascal's wager as to why I should be a Christian. (Because why else would you have religion unless it were from fear?)

Like the members of the Big Church in our community who all showed up to support my high school drama teacher at his termination appeal. He was terminated for various appropriate reasons, one being his proclivity for taking the Bible and using it to explain to male students why a girl shouldn't do certain things to them, but it was just fine if he did. His church members supported him, because he was a Good Christian Man and couldn't have done anything wrong, rather than consider that gee, if he did these things, maybe he wasn't such a Good Christian Man. And proceeded to give threatening looks to those of us who testified. And bricks through house windows. And other Good Christian Behavior. (Okay, so that was a little snarky.)**

But I do feel sad. For all those Jerry Falwell hurt. For all those, like many of the people I grew up around, who felt that his words justified any prejudices they had. People who probably would have had a bit of guilt nibbling away at them, except that here was someone who said they were right -- and righteous -- to feel that way.

* I did take some pleasure innocently answering, No, but he's Jewish. Which he was.
** He wasn't fired for this, but I think it's funny/sad: he wouldn't let us start up a chapter of the International Thespian Society, because it rhymed with "Lesbian." I can't make this stuff up, folks!

Banning water bottles -- thoughts?

UU Church bans plastic bottles

NancyDREuu brought this to my attention.

I'm passionately ambivalent. On one hand, it's great to see a UU church taking a concrete step toward living out their values.

On the other hand -- really? No plastic water bottles? That's your hill to die on?

On the other hand -- baby steps. That's what makes a difference.

On the other hand -- more fodder for the stereotype of the freakyhippiecult.

What say you?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

UU Drinking Game

While we're on week o'snark, can anyone help me come up with a UU drinking game? One that would apply to most churches?

To begin:

* When someone uses the term "disenfranchised" to refer to internal church dealings, take a drink
* When someone requests a ruling from Roberts Rules of Order, take a drink
* When someone says, "I was a founding member of this church ...," take a drink
* When someone begins an argument over whether you should have "Joys and Concerns," take a drink
* When someone uses the term "power hungry" to describe any Board members in your church, take a drink
* When someone demands a list of your sources for any new policy, take a drink
* When someone says, "We tried that before, it didn't work," take a drink
* When someone says, "Our services aren't spiritual enough," take a drink
* When someone says, "That speaker/minister just wants us to become a Christian church," take a drink
++ If the speaker/minister used the word 'God,' but didn't use any Christian words or allusions, take two drinks
* When someone says, "I respect your inherent worth and dignity, BUT ..." take a drink
* When someone says the minister/president/worship chair/janitor has a secret agenda, take a drink
* When someone says, "Back in the sixties, we ... ," take a drink
* When someone says, "Drinking games promote alcoholism," -- take two drinks

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Difference Between Pediatric and Adult Cancer

Thank you to Chalice Chick, who has afforded me the opportunity to write about the difference between pediatric and adult cancers. It’s certainly an area I knew nothing about, a year and a half ago. I will state up front that if someone else could state something better than I, I just pasted their words in. This ain’t no term paper.

CC asked: “… how does childhood cancer differ from regular cancer?

If a child and an adult both have lung cancer, don't they have the same disease? If I give money for lung cancer research and it is done on adults, doesn't that ultimately help both of them, and if not them, then a child and adult in a similar situation 20 years from now."

Childhood cancer is very different from adult cancer, which is why pediatric oncology is its own field. Here are some of the major differences:

Childhood cancers are biologically different from the cancers that affect adults and tend to occur at different sites from those common in adults. Among the most common childhood cancers are leukemias, lymphomas, brain tumors, and bone cancer. Each of these cancers also occurs in adults, but adult cancers tend more commonly to strike the lung, colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas.

There are some childhood cancers that almost never occur in adults (such as what LW has – Wilms’ Tumor) and some cancers that affect adults but virtually never occur in children. With very rare exceptions, there are some malignant diseases that do affect teenagers and younger adults, but by and large most of the diseases that pediatric oncologists deal with are fundamentally different diseases and thus are treated much differently than adult cancers are.

At the time of diagnosis, cancer is usually much more advanced in children than in adults. Only 20% of adults, versus 80% of children, have cancer that has spread to other parts of the body at the time of diagnosis. Childhood cancers tend to be more aggressive. Childhood tumors, perhaps because they are a primitive cell, tend to spread more easily than adult cancers. For this reason, pediatric oncologists are more likely to use chemotherapy, even in cancers that are localized at the time that they are diagnosed.

On top of that, kids are pumping out a lot of growth hormones which can increase the growth rate of cancer thus requiring faster working chemo.

Effect of Chemo
I didn’t know until LW began treatment, that the way chemotherapy works is to attack the fastest dividing cells. (Which is why your hair normally falls out.)

Kids, because they’re growing, just happen to be chock-full of fast dividing cells, and so they suffer more bodily damage from the chemos - many chemos developed for use in adults are completely unusable in children because of this damage.

In addition to chemo, the helper drugs – such as anti-nausea medications – have extremely different toxicity profiles when you compare children to adults.

A lot of adult cancers are 'acquired' cancers, caused by environmental damage, smoking, obesity, etc. Because of this, a lot of the money given for adult cancer research is based on how to prevent these diseases developing and educating people not to do the things that cause them.

Other than in areas of massive environmental damage – Chernobyl, for example – there have been no definitive links between environment/behavior and childhood cancer. Many of the cancers that affect children are embryomas. An embryoma is a derivation of embryo, and have been described as recapitulation of fetal development. Some strategies in childhood cancer are targeting an attempt to differentiate the diseased tissues back to a normal state; so many of the forms of therapy are quite different.

The best difference between childhood and adult cancers is that childhood cancer is rare. But this makes research more difficult. Many adult cancers can have a research study at a single institution. You can’t with childhood cancer, there will never be enough cases to do that. So we have the Childhood Oncology Group, which covers the US, a few countries in Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Treatment Facility
Most adults who are diagnosed with cancer are treated in their local community by their primary care physicians and cancer specialists. Children’s cancers are much more rare than those of adults, so specialists in many smaller communities do not have continuing experience with the management of these diseases. (The horror stories I could tell you of misdiagnoses and bad treatment.) For this reason, children usually are best treated by teams of doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of childhood cancers. Such teams are much more likely to be found in eminent children’s hospitals, university medical centers, and cancer centers.

We were lucky in that we live near two of the best pediatric oncology departments. But I have many friends who have to travel for treatment.

Future Effects
This might be the most devastating difference between adult and childhood cancer.

While many of the same interventions such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are used to used to treat children's and adults’ cancers, children are more apt to suffer significant after-effects such as cognitive dysfunction, cataracts and organ failure as a result of the harsh impact of the treatment on their young and developing bodies. Additionally, as was reported a few months ago, there is a big chance of developing a secondary cancer at some point in their lives. It is only recently that we began having a significant amount of childhood cancer survivors – so we’re just now learning about those late affects.

Two more notes:
#1: In no way am I attempting to say that in adult/childhood cancers, one is easier/harder than the other. They both suck. Period.

#2: If anyone has an interest in working childhood cancer research into their Giving Budget, I recommend Cure Search. You can even specify that you want it to go to the Wilms' Initiative. Right now, there is no defined protocol for relapsed Wilms'.

And some factoids:
* Pediatric cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease in children under 15
* The ACS estimates that 10,400 cases of childhood cancer will be diagnosed in 2007
* Chemotherapy was first used on children with cancer

Oh, Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

A friend just alerted me to this. I am laughing with incredulity.

"The Lance Armstrong Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Austin, Texas. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong, the LAF inspires and empowers people with cancer."

They have a store.

The store has many items of clothing.

They don't have a single thing in a child's size.

They do, however, have a whole page of pet collars and leashes.

Uh ... errr ... ahhh ...

There is absolutely nothing I can say.

Oh wait, yes, there is ... obviously, people with cancer and children with cancer are two different creatures.

As my mom says, when extremely frustrated, "WELL, GREAT HONK!"

Kids Get Cancer, Too ... Right?

More importantly, kids are cancer survivors, too.

I'm too pissed to be snarky. YAY, cancer and living with cancer is getting lots of press. Newsweek devoted a whole issue to the subject. Ted Koppel just had a 3 hour special on Living with Cancer on the Discovery Channel.

Guess how much space in Newsweek was devoted to childhood cancer?

Guess how much time on Ted Koppel's special was devoted to childhood cancer?

Answer: not a single page, not a single mention. Nothing! At all!

Childhood cancer is not some completely separate disease, folks. Much of the research that comes from childhood cancer is used to help those fighting adult cancer. And yet ... not a whole lot of money for childhood cancer.

Many of us cancer-parents who just participated in the Relay for Life were curious how much of the research money goes to childhood cancer research. We wrote to the American Cancer Society. The letter back bragged that out of all the money they give for research, a full 4% goes to childhood cancer.

I'm not saying out of all their money, period ... out of specifically the money that goes to research, only 4% goes to childhood cancer research.

The image of adults living with cancer is getting a boost right now, thanks to Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards. And Sheryl Crow and Kylie Minogue and Melissa Etheridge and of course, Lance Armstrong.

Strong! Cancer survivors are strong!

But we don't see childhood cancer survivors like that ... heck, we don't see childhood cancer survivors, despite the wonderful survival rates they now have. What we see is bald, big eyed children, being pushed in wheelchairs, in ads for St. Jude's.

Aren't they brave? Poor dears!

I was annoyed when I read what was otherwise a wonderful issue of Newsweek, then irritated when I went to the Discovery Channel's "Cancer collage." I tried to sign up Little Warrior. Birthdate: I put hers in. Sorry, you must be 18 to fill this in. Okay, internet safety and all that. I put in my birthdate. Where was the place to put in her birthdate? None. Okay, where can I put in her age? None.

Now, if you go to that collage, you can filter all the pictures/stories according to gender, cancer type, cancer treatment, AGE. Okay! So I move the filter all the way to the left, since it goes from lowest to highest. Lowest: age 18 - 30.


So, I tivo the three hour Koppel show. It's called Living with Cancer. I figured, surely they're going to make some mention of childhood cancer, right? After all, if things go the way you hope, then a childhood cancer survivor will live the longest time period as a cancer survivor, right?

You stupid, stupid, mother.

Children don't live with cancer. Once they get cancer, they become non-humans, just bald, alien-looking creatures. It hurts our hearts to look at them. We flip the channel.

Where's our goddamn "childhood cancer" M&Ms? Where's our Campbell's soup cans? Where's our people cheering us on, because these kids are survivors? The 4 year old who can't go to Chuck E. Cheese because there's too many germs there? The 7 year old who spends Halloween "trick or treating" the nurses? The 16 year old girl who wears a wig to her prom and fills out college applications while in quarantine for her stem-cell rescue? What about my almost-two year old daughter whose first identifying memories are sure to be MRIs, IVs and CT scans? What about I and my husband, who in amongst all the other things you have to do as parents, need to figure out how to best "spin" this whole "you are a cancer survivor" thing?

And, we are the lucky ones. At the same time I was getting the news that LW's scans were clear, another Wilms' family, right here in my town, were making the excrutiating decision to let their child go. Prayers for Caroline's family.

"Living with Cancer" and not a single reference to a child having cancer?

For shame.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Absolutely No Snark

Just joy.


An extra heaping spoonful of gratitude this time ... on Friday, they did her chest CT, then her abdominal MRI ... then the radiologist requested that they do her CT again, changing her position. He thought he might see something. (Wilms' usually recurs in the lungs.)

Clear, clear, clear.

We got this via phone. LW was supposed to go in to the oncologist today, but she is running both a fever and a nose, and you don't want those around the kids who are still fighting cancer. But her onc very sweetly called me himself to go over the report.

In other news ... she had her church dedication yesterday. Since we are currently without minister, I asked three of her "goddess-mothers" to perform the ceremony. It was beautiful, and they did it well, albeit through choked-up voices.

A few tears in the congregation, too. And then I had to get up and preach a Mothers' Day sermon. Actually, it was easy. My sermon was on the sorority of motherhood. And how you don't have to be a 'mother' to be in it. If you choose to make a difference in the life of a child, you're in.

And "mother-pie." I read about this when I was a teen, in one of those usually forgettable teen paperbacks. I know the heroine was named "Honey," but I've never been able to find the book.

Anyway, the concept is this: we all have a "mother-pie" made up of all those people who mother us. Your best friend's mother, who hugs you and feeds you cake. Your strict disciplinarian mom. Your aunt, who teaches you how to put on makeup. Even your father can be a part of your "mother-pie." And you, you can be a part of someone else's mother-pie.

Mmmm, pie.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No One Should Celebrate Any Holidays

(In honor of MakingChutney's Week O' Snark.)

No One Should Celebrate Any Holidays

You shouldn't celebrate Valentines Day because
How can you enforce that this day, unlike the others
Is more special, that you should show someone
More love on this day, but not tomorrow

You shouldn't celebrate Easter
Because bunnies and candy and
Hard Boiled Eggs
Mock the Christians.
They aren't about Jesus dying for YOUR sins

You shouldn't celebrate Mothers' Day
Because it makes some people sad
People who didn't have good mothers
Or whose mothers died
Or who never could have kids
Or didn't want to
Or they had a child
And it died
Or turned into a teenager

You shouldn't celebrate Fathers' Day
Because some dads can't see their kids
Or are deadbeat
And besides
It's all about the barbeque anyway

No Fourth of July, that glorifies war
No Memorial Day; instead just grieve
Labor Day, it's all about unions

Thanksgiving is about stealing land from the natives
Christmas is just avarice and greed
Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are just misappropriation
New Years is a false calendrical happening
If you're going to change ... do it in May

Holidays aren't really holy
You shouldn't celebrate them at all
They exist only for marketers and cardwriters
And those idiots who forward sappy emails.

We are so much smarter
WE know bliss is ignorance
If you celebrate your life, you are thumbing your nose
At those of us who know real pain.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Little Warrior yelled, exactly 1/2 a second after waking up from anesthesia.

"Yes, LW, you're done."

All morning, as they prepped her for scans, she kept asking. "None? None?"

No honey, we're not done yet.

After get pulse-oxed and blood-pressured ... "None?" After getting an IV put in ... "None?" As they began giving her the propofol, it stopped being a question. "None!" "None!"

So after getting fully awake, nursing, and being released, she asked again, gently.

"None?" she almost whispered.

Yes, baby. We're done. We're going home.

All went fine. Results Monday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scans tomorrow

Gotta be up at 5 am. Little Warrior is already dressed in her scan day clothes (no metal snaps -- getting an MRI and we don't want to turn her into a refrigerator magnet). Her DVD player is charging. Toy bag is packed.

I need to go to bed. I need to go to sleep.

I need to go to sleep.

I need to go to sleep.


"If I ever hear you using 'ministerial voice,'

I'm going to smack you," my BFF said one day, shortly after I had decided to begin seminary the first time.

Now, my BFF and I are more like sisters than best friends. We fuss and fight, and have no problems telling the other that she is full of malarkey. I am usually the one full of it, I think. She would probably corroborate the fact. It is good to have a friend like that. AND she is a DRE. I am sure there is more than one person would like all aspiring ministers to have a DRE as a BFF.

Anyway, listening to all the god-casts, her warning came back to me. I don't know how to describe ministerial voice, exactly. And actually, "ministerial voice" is a misnomer. Seems you rarely hear it in experienced ministers.

But I have heard it in newbies. Those experienced ministers, they can use their regular voice for sermons. Their voices don't need to ring with authority, they already possess authority.

I don't think I have ministerial voice -- not yet, anyway -- but often, I get wound up during a sermon and my inner Jesse Jackson comes out. I would do well to note the critiques Hillary recently got whilst in the South, speaking.

And if I ever start using ministerial voice ... well, I've got that DREBFF. She's got my back. Which doesn't mean she won't smack me on it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cartoon Character and Cancer

Lisa (Funky Winkerbean) finds out today that she is not in remission and her cancer has progressed.

Selfishly, I will tell you that I mentally shrieked, "I did not need this today!!!"

Scans are day after tomorrow. We get results on Monday.

Objectively, though, since this is a cartoon character, not someone flesh and blood, it's good. The more exposure, the better.

Hmm. Now if they could just have Wren from Baby Blues get Wilms' Tumor ...

Okay, so that lead me to the thought -- But there's nothing funny about childhood cancer!!! Well, au contraire, Pierre. Like when The Husband and I were in a store with Little Warrior (her counts were good enough for that "vacation"), having just left an appointment at a clinic full of children on chemo. At the store, a tattooed and bald young man was flirting with her. "She's probably never seen a bald head," he said. And The Husband and I fell out laughing.

Okay, so maybe it's not funny as much as insanity. But whatever gets you through the day.

Good luck, Lisa. From what I've read, you're going to need it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

UU Ministers Are Giving Me Shin Splints!

But they're also making my butt more fit, so they're forgiven.

I have been doing interval training, not that I knew I was. I was just run/walking intuitively; I was a fencer back in college and ripped up my ankles quite a bit. Jogging hurts, sprinting doesn't. So, I walk, walk, then sprint. Walk, walk, then sprint. I am not yet in good shape, so after 2 miles, I'm ready to just walk, walk, walk. That's when I switch my iPod over to a god-cast by a UU minister.
So, what are your favorite UU podcasts?

There are some fabulous ones available for free on iTunes now. Back when I looked about a year ago, there wasn't much. The Unitarian church of Dublin, as I recall, and a pinch of others.

Snaps to All Souls in Tulsa. They're the best at getting sermons up fast and regularly and have a large library to choose from. My two other favorites are Rev. Christine at First UU Albuquerque and the Revs Chuck and Kathleen at Live Oak in Austin. If you know the latter two, pinch them to get some new sermons up.

I become so engrossed in their sermons, I stop counting laps. The track becomes an oval labyrinth as I walk and focus on their words. The shadows from the railing lay down patterns; if I keep my stride exactly regular, I can step on all of the crossbeam stripes. Step, step, breathe. Step, step, breathe.

I lose track of time. I am doing a lot more exercise than I intended, not a bad thing.

Except for the shin splints.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Karma, Exercise, and Faith

So, I'm doing my laps at the Y, listening to my iPod, and Instant Karma comes on. And I reflect on how similar karma and exercise are.

I'm not talking about Dharmic Karma, I'm talking pop-UU, My-Name-Is-Earl, no-death-required karma. That vague idea we have that if we do good, then we will attract good. Which may not be the most theologically sound, but I like it a damn sight better than The Secret and its injunctions to visualize yourself gripping the wheel of the expensive car you want, no requirements necessary.

I have begun a regular walk/running routine. There are no instant results, dadnabit. Wouldn't it be great if you could do an hour of exercise and the next morning, you'd lost a pound and could see greater definition in your calves?

But I continue on, in faith rooted in reading enough to know that the general consensus among health professionals is that exercise is good for your heart, good for your body.

So, too, with semi-instant karma. If I do good things, I allow myself the fun notion that this will create a good energy that will somehow bounce back to me. I don't expect a new car, but someone braking to allow me to pull out of the parking lot in front of them is nice.

With exercise, I have found -- like most -- that whereas my butt does not immediately reflect the workout, my spirit does. I have a general sense of well-being, at least for an hour or so afterwards. And my workout gives me time to focus on my personal spiritual growth, a post for another day.

Again ... so, too, with semi-instant karma. Even if no one brakes to let me pull out, my spirit is more positive, and I am more relaxed as I wait for the light to change. Doing good feels good. Again, that whole thing about general sense of well-being.

Both affect my identity. Running proves to me that I am doing something for my health, I am being a good role model for my children. I am no marathoner, but still, I am a runner.

Doing good for others, or for the natural world, proves to me that I am trying to be a better person. I am trying to make the world just a little bit better. I am not someone who has given my entire life to serve others, but still, I am a good person*.

*Odd. That phrase was harder for me to write than "I am a runner."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day to Me - tomorrow

I've already mentioned that The Husband is the most fantastic, thoughtful, caring husband in the world, right? Now if I could just get him to not bite his fingernails* ...

Well, along with the incredible Valentine's date, he also arranged for a Girls' Weekend for me. So this weekend, while he stays home parenting the 4 Katzenjammer kids, I and my posse (as my 73 year old friend refers to us) will be in Austin at the Pecan Street Arts Festival.

So, if you see 5 wild women who look like they might be fine, upstanding citizens and mothers in normal life ... it's us.

* deliberate joke about how our partner can be the most fabulous person in the world, but we'll still find room for improvement. And I do wish he'd grow out his nails. My back is itchy.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Two-Cake Birthday

The tradition in our family is two cakes on your birthday. The day begins with the whole family coming to your bed with a lit-up birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday, and having cake for breakfast.

Later on, is the family dinner with the birthday cake of the child's choosing. (Mom chooses the morning cake and it's always a surprise.) Today, for my son, I made a s'mores cake. Chocolate cake, topped with melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Right before taking upstairs, I topped it with big marshmallows and ran the pan in the oven til they were puffed and brown. A big hit.

So, 11 years ago, I became a Mom.

I'm not the first to say that you just can't put into words the kind of love you feel for your child. You just can't. There's nothing like it in the world.

But I am continually amazed at how much I like my son.

He likes to talk with me. I'm a mom of 4, and sometimes, it's just not convenient. Need to deal with the fussy baby, get The Princess started on her homework, shoot, I need to start dinner ...

I try to remember how very precious this time is. As several of my blogger friends will tell me, too soon he will be of an age where talking to Ol' Mom will be as much fun as going to the dentist.

Maybe not. I try to not pigeonhole him into anything, even the "what he'll be like as a teenager" box.

As I mentioned in the comments of the previous post, he recently requested that he be allowed to stay in the service rather than go with the other children. Sometimes, during the service, he wants to sit on his father's or my lap. It is a precious, sweet time right now. Old enough to want to hear the adult service, but young enough to want to cuddle. (And how much do I love our church, that he feels comfortable doing so. He certainly wouldn't do that at school!)

I am honored that he is willing to come to me with questions, even questions like "What does 'humping' mean?" "Why do kids at school think a person choosesto be gay?" "What does 'boning' mean?" (Note to parents of really young children. It's Fifth Grade. That's when it all hits. Popularity, puberty and pills -- being them, not taking them.) So I try to respond honestly and matter-of-factly. "'Boning' refers to sexual intercourse. I believe that the context is usually from the point of view of the male."

I don't know how long it will last, us being able to talk openly and honestly with teach other. I adore my parents, but we didn't have that. To this day, if I try to talk to my Mom about sex, she manages to change the subject.

Now, he's old enough that we can talk books. We discussed, at length, Where the Red Fern Grows and Toby Tyler. He's reading The Yearling right now. Then I'll be ready for a break from dead-pet stories. He recently read A Wrinkle in Time and I steered him towards A Wind in the Door, because I think the climax is so much better. Finding love in your heart for someone you thought you hated ... how very UU!

I really, really like my son. And most of the time, I really like listening to him. Those of you with children understand.

11 years old. In that same blink of an eye that it took to get here, he'll be 22 years old.

I'm sorry, did someone just suck all of the oxygen out of the room?

I love introducing him to pop culture. This past year, he met Ferris Bueller and Bill & Ted. He thinks they are both the pinnacle of theatrical greatness. And for this morning, I put together a CD with Dr. Demento-type songs. The clean ones. He had never heard "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-ha" or "Fish Heads."

See, Mom doesn't just make cake, she also provides a cultural education.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Welcoming Congregation" ... for parents of young children???

I don't know if I'm going to post this. And if I post it, I'm not sure I'm going to leave it up.

Goddammit, am I welcome in a UU church?

Oh, no, I know. I am welcome. However, if by "I," I mean, "I and my children," then ... well, no, not necessarily.

I have to admit to feeling slapped by a blogger whom I really like, who put a comment on someone else's blog saying, to paraphrase, that she wouldn't mind breastfeeding in service being uncommon, not because of the breastfeeding, but because she doesn't want babies in the service at all. Period.


Now, before the "Oh, but what about those horrible people who let their children yell and scream and run up and down the aisles ..." I'm not talking about that. Those people piss me off just as much as anyone. But how is that not different than the argument, "Oh, I don't mean all black people. People like you are very nice. But you know, those other black people. The ones on welfare, who don't talk right, who just want us all to support them."?


The area I live in has several UU churches and we recently had a citywide workshop. One of the comments was something along the lines of, "I think there's room in our town for an adults-only church."

See, that sounds fairly innocuous, doesn't it? But what it means is, "I think there's room in our town for a church with no parents of young children."

See, this is how it works. We can't leave our 2 year olds at home with a bowl of water and a sack of kibble. A church with no children means a church with no parents. No parents of young children, anyway.

How would it sound:

"I think there's room in our town for a church with no gays/lesbians."

"I think there's room in our town for a church with only white people."


So why not just leave them in the nursery?

I think that is a question that would only be asked by someone who either a) has never had children or b) had children so long ago s/he doesn't remember what it was like, that first year.

The first 3 months, you don't want to leave your baby in a nursery, no matter how wonderful it is. Your child is too young, too vulnerable. And the truth of the matter is, many of our nurseries are not set up for infants. Not enough staff. Or the staff isn't qualified. As in, "Oh, I'm going to feed your two month old some animal crackers, okay? Spread with honey?"

Soon after that, the baby begins to have problems "separating." Meaning, they know what a stranger is (anyone other than mommy or daddy) and aren't going there for anything.

So, my infants, including Little Warrior, have been in the service with me. Frequently nursing. Discreetly. And quietly, other than an occasional slurp. Anytime a child wasn't quiet, we beat a hasty retreat. So, yes, we might have upset your concentration for 5 seconds. Really, that's so horrible that you would rather I not come to church for the first year? REALLY?

My church, (I say with pride), does that part right. I say that not only with church pride, but also personal pride. We moved to a new location several years ago and I had one priority: there must be a "crying baby" room for when your baby isn't quiet. A room where you could go, at the back, where you could still hear the service, but where a fussy baby wouldn't bother others. They did it. Glass wall, and speakers.

But apparently, it isn't necessary for a baby to be fussy to bother others. Merely present.

To reiterate: I - am - not - talking - about - parents - who - let - their - babies - yell.

So, why IS it like this? African-American man didn't choose to be black, lesbian woman didn't choose to be gay. But I chose to have babies.

Is that the difference? "You made your choice ... live with it. Don't ask me to accomodate you."

I'm not.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Un segno! Un Segno!"

"A sign. I understand. I believe in signs, too." -- Frances, Under the Tuscan Sun

I don't, actually. I used to. Now I see them more as a confirmation of what we want to see, or what our higher self wants us to see. So, maybe I do believe in signs. Take it as it is.

(The best thing ever said about signs, in my twisted opinion, is a comic strip, run last year, of Pearls Before Swine.)

I wish I could link to it, but I can't, so I'll be annoying and read it to you.

Two crockydiles find a dead animal in the street. "Bob! Bob! Look at dis!"
"What ees it Floyd?"
"Ees pre-killed aneemal! Ees third one me find here dis week!"
"What does dis mean, Floyd?!"
"It mean God love us, Bob!"
"He do?"
"Of course he do! He know we have trubble catch food, so he give us some alreddy ded!"
"God muss have beeeg plan foh us, Floyd! God muss have beeg plan!!"
Frame: headlights on crockydiles. HONK HONK HOOOOONK
Last Frame: The two crockydiles are sitting in hell, surrounded by flames. One says to the other:
"Dis not plan me have in mind, Floyd."

In any case, the part of my self that wanted to see signs reflecting on my decision to go back to seminary had much to choose from today. Last year, I planted two gardenia bushes on either side of my front door. Like many plants, they won't flower the first year. I went out today, and saw my very first gardenia. Looked closer -- both bushes are covered in blooms.

That's a nice sign.

Went to the Y this morning to do my laps. The Lizard Eater, lizard-ino, doing my laps, listening to my iPod. About halfway through a great acoustic version of Howard Jones' No One is to Blame, the words struck me. "Her" is, of course, seminary. Or the ministry.

You can see the summit but you can't reach it
It's the last piece of the puzzle but you just can't make it fit
Doctor says you're cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain

And you want her, and she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her and she wants you
No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

Hey, I didn't say it was a burning bush.

In any case, it spoke to me. But I also have enough of a sense of humor to laugh out loud when the next song is Lithium:

I'm so happy. Cause today I found my friends.
They're in my head. I'm so ugly. But that's ok.
'Cause so are you. We've broke our mirrors.
Sunday morning. Is everyday for all I care.
And I'm not scared. Light my candles. In a daze cause I've found god.


I think I'm going back to school in September.