Saturday, February 28, 2009

Right Relationship

Okay, so let me tell you about something happening at ICUUW that I think is fabulous -- a Right Relationship Team.

I don't know if this has been done at other gatherings, but this is my first time to see it in play.

From their bookmark: The Right Relationship Team exists in response to historic instances of oppression (such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism/homophobia, and ableism) in large Unitarian Universalist gatherings. In addition to responding to particular events and problems, we work to create environment where oppression will not happen.

Self-disclosure: had I read about this beforehand, I must admit, I miiiight have thought "Oh no, a politically correct thought police!"

But I am impressed.

The team had their first presentation to the convocation yesterday. Yeah, there might have been some things that made one of my roommates whisper, "Whining ..." But there was also some really good stuff, good learning opportunities.

Here's an example, putting it in personal terms:

They pointed out that there is a need for providing clear paths and deliberate spaces left for those in wheelchairs/scooters.

Well, in my Global Sisters group, there is a woman, B, (who, incidentally, is so fascinating, I just want to sit and listen to her life experiences) in a scooter. Before she got to our meeting, the facilitator and I moved chairs to make a path, and made a gap in the circle of chairs. When she arrived, she just zipped up to the front and pulled in. How different from her experience the other day, as her entrance caused people to jump up awkwardly, move things around. Ugh, to feel that everytime you go anywhere, all eyes will be on you for that sort of thing.

I have been taught. I like learning. Right Relationship is a good thing.

"I Lost My Voice at the ICUUW"

Oooh, sounds dramatic! Have I contacted the Right Relationship team?

No, my literal voice. (My prophetic voice is still intact. I think.)

Between allergies, singing too loudly and talking too much ("Two ears, one mouth, use proportionally, LE. It's not that hard a concept."), I am completely without sound.

So, if you either:

a) Hear about some funny mime someone saw at ICUUW -- or --
b) Hear about some political protest by someone who refused to speak at ICUUW ...

You'll know they ran into Lizard Eater.

(Okay, this is funny ... someone just came up to me with a newsletter to know if I wanted to be part of the Voice of the Revolution.)

Friday, February 27, 2009


I'm here at ICUUW, and I've already hooked up with Dr. Karen Rayne, first my laptop to her iPhone ("Meet up by the chalice after this?"). Now, she's down with all the sexual lingo of the youth, so she would probably deny that we "hooked up" as it apparently means something different to the yoots of today than it means to this old mama.

I have to say, in this group, I would be laughed at for referring to myself as "old." We ain't minding the gap, Sisters. When an almost forty year old is one of the youngest, it's time to get concerned.

There are very good conversations happening ... open honesty. And very interesting people. There is a young woman in my Global Sisters group who is from Transylvania. She is a chaplain, one who got to study at Starr King.

Here's an interesting moment: another woman in the group is from Corpus Christi. A big concern in her community is the high incidence of birth defects, thought to be because of the oil refineries there. The chaplain from Transylvania has a similar concern; in her area it is a high incidence of miscarriages. No oil refineries there, they have no idea what is the cause.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Days

Happy feels good.

I'm packing up for the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women. Whoo-hoo! I'll be staying in a hotel room with 3 of my peeps, so it's slumber party time. Three of us are doing weight watchers (and the other one is not WW-averse) so we're packing up low point snacks and such. They don't know that I'm also packing my Mamma Mia DVD. Shh. Don't tell them. They might accidentally forget to get me a key.

I am feeling so good these days. After 9 months of not being able to read anything more complex than Entertainment Weekly, my brain is working again. I'm listening to sermons, reading great stuff, having actual thoughts ...

I wasn't sure whether to go back to school this semester. I just felt so raw. Like I'd shatter into a million shards if anyone even gave me a sidewise glance.

So I signed up for one class, hoping I could handle it. Pshaw. My problem is that the lack of thinking for 9 months created a vacuum. I am Audrey. FEED ME FEED ME FEED ME.

And speaking of feed me ... Man, I am loving Weight Watchers. Really-o, truly-o.

Accomplishment feels good. Anticipation feels good. Learning feels good. Thinking feels good.

Not constantly carrying fear feels real good.

Fear will come again. That's just natural. Failure will come, blue days will come, that's just life. But I'm loving this, as long as it lasts.

I'm looking forward to many things at the Convocation, but perhaps most of all, I'm looking forward to hearing Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt speak again.

The last time I heard her speak, I came home and enrolled in seminary. I'm a little concerned ... I might wind up a missionary in the jungles of South America this time.

So, if you don't hear from me for a few weeks ... well, send Peacebang to rescue me. I don't speak Spanish.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why LE Was Slamming Her Steering Wheel Repeatedly Monday Night

It was Rev. Anthony David's fault. (And thanks to Hysteric Cleric for pointing the way ...)

"Amen! Speak it, Brother!" Lizard Eater shouted, startling other motorists at the stoplight.

If you have ever had someone say to you, "I just wish our services were more 'spiritual' ..."

If you have ever had someone say to you, "Ehh, that was pretty touchy-feely/new-agey ..."

If you have ever had someone say to you, "That was just too dry, too intellectual ..."

If you have ever had someone say to you, "Man, I just want someone to give me something relevant to my life ..."

Etc Etc Etc Etc

To where you, a humble Worship Chair - slash - seminary student have curled up into a fetal ball and thought really, the only problem with Unitarian Universalism is the Unitarian Universalists in it ...

Listen or Read his sermon on "The Four Spiritualities."

Angels will weep. Clarity will be given. And you, the humble Worship Chair slash seminary student will remember again how dearly you love not only this religion, but the people in it.

Bless all our little pointed heads.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Steering Wheel Slamming Good

Monday, I listened to a sermon and read an article that were both Slamming Hands on the Steering Wheel good.

I was literally slapping the steering wheel and hollering, YES! while listening to the sermon, which I'll write about later. You will be happy to know that I was not reading the article while driving. (But if I had been, I would have been slapping something in agreement.)

The article was Rev. Christine's Imagineers of the Soul, taken from her Berry Street lecture last summer. How did I not read that? Oh. Hospital. I might have read it. June 08, I also might have met Barack Obama. Not much in the way of memories. Just cupcakes and chemo. But I digress.

In any case, it was all new to me, and boy did it resonate. I asked about this a couple of months ago, in Can You Talk About God in Your Church?. And more recently, I had a paper due for my Pastoral Care class. We had to write a paper titled The Call of God On My Life. You had to answer questions about when you got your call, what the call was, what your mission/vision statement is, how you are preparing for implementing your call .... lots of stuff, all on that theme.

Is it difficult? The Husband asked. He was referring to the fact that I was writing about something very personal, for a professor who is a conservative Christian.

Not at all, I replied. I explained that it was, in point of fact, kind of liberating. Because I could say "God," and that was that. I didn't have to explain what I meant or didn't mean by "God," I didn't have to hasten to explain that no, I didn't really hallucinate a literal voice talking to me ... I could just say, "God spoke to me."

Now, granted, the flip side of this is that the professor quite possibly fills in the definition of "God" with his own meaning, perhaps reads something very different in my paper than what I wrote.

BUT ... I don't worry that he will read my paper and find me spiritually childish, intellectually incurious, or stupid.

As Rev. Robinson writes, "Very few people are willing to talk about their spiritual lives if they think they will be ridiculed or misunderstood."

Read the article. It's much better than reading me talking about the article.

Value Prioritization

I've been thinking about what I value. The things below, well, I value all of them. But I pushed myself to see what I prioritize over the other.

I value honesty over politeness
I value kindness over intellect
I value humility over confidence
I value security (opposite of insecurity) over modesty

Hopefully of course, we can have all of these. Honesty AND politeness. Kindness AND intellect. But for me, one can be more important than the other.

This is just mine, now. Your values may be exactly the opposite, or, more likely, things I haven't even mentioned. What's interesting to me, is how these change. A few years ago, humility probably wouldn't have even made the list. It just wasn't something I thought about, either in myself or others. And I probably would have chosen intellect over kindness.

I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately, thanks to Moxie and Eric Holder. I learn so much when others open themselves up, and are willing to be honest. I'll probably write about that sometime, but right now, I have to unpack some things and straighten them out. My thoughts, I mean.

What do you value?

It Matters What We Do

It's easy to forget that in those big ole companies -- pharmaceuticals, for example -- there's people working, doing things that make a big difference in the world. I have to admit, that with all the chemo LW received, I didn't stop and think about the actual men and women who manufacture the medicine. Medicine. To heal.

Well, not everyone forgets. This mom is so aware of it, that there are people whose day's work means her children don't get sick, that she goes and thanks them personally. And they returned her attention. Go read and see if it doesn't reframe some thoughts for you.

We are all so interdependent.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today was a really good day

You read so much about the tears ... how about some joy?

Today was a really good day.

We went to the hospital for LW's followup appointment. What a difference, when you already know it's good news!

So, we go in, hauling in 3 dozen cupcakes, and a giant bag of presents. We collected some in December, when Amazon was having its crazy sales, and some folks sent some for the Little Warrior project. We shared cupcakes hither and yon, with nurses, our onc, the receptionists, patients, the janitor. Put the gifts back for later. Went and got blood taken. That never gets any easier. See the Oncologist who was thrilled with the hug LW gave him. Pronounced her very healthy, blood tests, scans, and all.

Went back to the area where the kids gets chemo. Distributed toys to all the patients. Need more boy toys for next time, but the kids were cool. And appreciative. Even the trying-to-act-tough teen boy. What can I say? Toys are magic.

Back down into the parking garage to get a big box of puzzles. When we were in the hospital, going to the hospital library and picking out a puzzle to borrow was always the highlight of every day. Unfortunately, a lot of the puzzles had missing pieces. For LW's off-chemo party, all our friends brought brand spanking new puzzles to donate. We took the giant box up to the library, thrilling the librarian, who has probably thrown away all the old puzzles by this hour. Little Warrior was pretty puffed with the pride of giving by this point.

Back down into the parking garage, and back up to the hospital's oncology floor with more cupcakes. Saw many nurse friends from when LW was inpatient. They seemed thrilled to see her looking so fat and happy. The cupcakes were appreciated, too.

Very good day. But the best was yet to come.

6 weeks ago, a Wilms' friend, who is also a Real Life friend, as we share the same oncologist, had scans. Like LW, she's fought the beast twice. There were spots in her lungs. (Wilms' often relapses in the lungs.) Small. She had just gotten over a bit of a cold, so they needed to wait 6 weeks to rescan. It was hard to be hopeful. I saw a mutual friend/nurse today. She didn't want to meet my eyes. We both talked about our hopes, our prayers for the scans.

I just got the news. CANCER FREE.

So ... I am back to tears. But these are really, really happy tears.

And this is a really, really good week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The end of a very long day.

I slept very hard last night.

And the end of Groundhog Day, Rita teases Phil for having slept through their night together. "It was the end of a VERY long day," he tells her.

After I got the news yesterday, I sat and sobbed. Sobbed with relief, with joy. Sobbed in way I hadn't since before April 10.

It was a very long day, from then til now.

It's no guarantee. But for three months, we won't be going to the hospital. Won't be going for blood counts, tests, chemo, appointments. Three months of freedom. Three months of making plans for the future.

What can you do in three months?

Well, like the old ad slogan, we're going to Disney World. In April, Make-a-Wish is sending Little Warrior and all the rest of us, to stay for one week at Give Kids the World, loading us up on tickets for 4 Disney parks, 2 Universal parks and Seaworld. A child's dream whirlwind holiday.

I need to get in the habit of making a quick explanation; let me do it now: Make-A-Wish is not just for terminal children, it's for children with a life-threatening disease.

I was telling a friend of ours at church about our Wish trip, and he was without words, almost gasping. I realized, and trotted out that explanation. He smiled with relief. And excused himself to the restroom.

Three months of freedom, real freedom, means the end of this phase. The long day is over. Cancer may return to our lives, but it would be another day.

Last night, we danced in the living room. I'm still dancing.

Tomorrow, we return to the hospital, for our followup appointment. We return, with smiles. Oh, and of course, for those who are still fighting this beast ... we'll return with cupcakes. Dozens and dozens. So please excuse me. Little Warrior and I have got some bakin' to do.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Monday, February 16, 2009

... and into the next box ...

Exam done. Did well. I think. Paper turned in. Next!

I'm a little scared about going to the hospital tomorrow. The last time I was there was in November, when she had the surgery to remove her portacath. Will this trigger cancer-parent PTSD? If I see a bald child, will I yell, "Fire in the hole!" and tackle Little Warrior?

There are flags up, up and down my street, in honor of President's Day. Driving home from my school tonight, I saw them and thought of Memorial Day. What will life be like then?

And then I laughed, a little angrily, because the truth is, I don't know what life will be like by this Friday.

Scans tomorrow. Follow up appointment Thursday, but we're hoping to hear news before then.

As I briefly mentioned, I went to a really super party yesterday, the 75th birthday party for the woman I love so much, I invited her to be in the delivery room when LW was born. She threw it for herself, picked out all the details, and showed up in purple and red. I LOVE that woman and the room was filled with lots of other people who love her, too.

One teensy moment out of all the frivolity ... I am blessed to have a husband who, when I say, "Wanna dance?" always responds in the affirmative. So we were hopping up to hit the dance floor when I heard what song it was.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Eyes filled with tears. Controlled it, barely. "Not ready for that song," I whispered to The Husband. He understood.

Maybe next week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Compartmentalization ...

...ain't always bad.

Compartment A: fearfully and wonderfully made and substitutionary atonement and neurons and neurotransmitters. Monday night exam.

Compartment B: First real off-chemo scans on Tuesday and Results on Thursday

Compartment C: Little Warrior gets her Wish! Wanting to tell all the details but Compartment A and Compartment B come first

Compartment D: dear, dear, Velveteen Grandma and splash mash of a party today

And all the other compartments. I'm sure there's one for blogging.

Stay in your boxes, you little rascals. After Thursday, you can come out and play together.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

After this, I really will get back to studying for my Monday Pastoral Care test

My second UU Seminarian in Bibleland post, kind of a “throw away,” prompted some good comments. I started to respond in comments, but then thought it would be a good exercise for myself to ‘splain why they heck I’m at a seminary where the majority of professors are Southern Baptist.

(And first, let me send all of you a big hug. I love that my blog friends are concerned about my seminary experience. Makes me feel nurtured.)

My seminary is about 50 years old. It began as a Quaker seminary and has changed into the more conservative school it is today. It is officially “interdenominational,” evangelical Christian. I know of at least two other UUs who graduated from here – one is now a UU minister in the Heartland, and one is in process for fellowship. I also know one, who ran screaming after one week, to a UU seminary. And I know one who was taking classes there, but not pursuing ministry, who abruptly walked out of a class in the middle of the semester, never to return.

The vast majority of students here are second careerists, but not the kind who have had a “full” career and are now returning to school. I have no statistics, but I’d guess the median age is probably 35. They cater to this with evening classes, along with the day classes.

I am a minority here: religiously, as the majority of students are not just Christian, but conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical Christians; gender-wise, I think; and racially.

And that is a huge part of why I chose to continue at this school. I am, as Kari mentioned, a cradle UU. Chances are, a substantial percentage of my future congregants grew up in Christian homes. I know that it will be beneficial to be immersed in a world that I was always a stranger in.

Even more important is the racial makeup. As longtime readers here know, the issue of race is a passionate one for me. I am with classmates who fight racism and oppression on a daily basis. Many of them are dedicating themselves for careers as ministers for which they may never be paid; they talk about working for little urban churches while keeping a day job. Far from the disciplined fellowship approach of more mainstream denominations, several are already pastors. These people are living it.

I forgot to mention economically and socially, didn’t I? Also an issue.

During orientation, the president of the school said, very clearly, “You are here with classmates from different denominations than you. Do not think that you were called here to convert them. You were not.”

I took comfort in that, but still and all, I choose very carefully what I speak out on. So far, I have headed into the fray on the subjects of marriage equality and capital punishment. My first theology class, I just treated as a “foreign language” course. I don’t have to believe Monsier Thibeux is really an engineer in order to say it in French.

I know myself, and I know there will come the time to stand, to argue, about theology. But even with the president’s admonition, at this point, I listen more than I speak.

And I am learning a powerful amount. Some of it in class, much of it outside of class. When Little Warrior relapsed last spring, I broke down after my Ethics class and told a friend about it. The next week, she explained that on the day of LW’s surgery, not only would she be praying, she would also be fasting. I knew that she meant it, and would.

Can you imagine? She went without food all day, so that she could send her energies up in prayer for my daughter. You think that didn’t teach me a few lessons about belief, about sacrifice?

The “other” minorities here (and by that, I specifically mean gay and lesbian) and I somehow find each other. And wow, talk about profound lessons. We all, to a certain extent, try to fly under the radar. But we also are very clear inside about who we are.

So, as for now, this school is worth it. I take online classes from Starr King. I plan on going to Meadville Lombard for some UU-specific intensives.

And every semester, as I turn in my registration, I think, “Will this be the semester that sends me screaming to another school?”

“The day ain’t over yet.” -- Curly, City Slickers


The Real Anonymous took offense at my last post. I began to respond in the comments of their blog, but it got long, so I'm bringing it back over here.

Real Anonymous, despite putting in the full quote (thank you), you seem to have only read the first part of that sentence. The point of the sentence was that as a UU, I do not have the boundary on me to believe that a) Jesus is Lord and b) the Bible is inerrant.

This was not facetiousness of my part. When you can say, “Well, I don’t believe the Bible is literal and without error,” it’s pretty easy to argue any biblical “truth,” right? Simply, “The Bible is wrong” or “That was metaphor,” etc.

Had you read the previous posting, A UU Seminarian in Bibleland, you would have seen me writing with admiration about a fellow student who made sense of the discrepancy between the two creation stories by pointing out that men carry both the X and Y chromosome in themselves. “These are intelligent people, trying hard to understand and make modern sense out of ancient words,” I wrote.

If you have a knee jerk response to what you see as a UU being critical of Christians, I have sympathy, as it is something I get frustrated with as well. However, I would suggest that you look a little further than one phrase before deciding that someone is sanctimonious.

I do not at all think that my reasoning is the best. However, I do put a value on reasoning, itself. I enjoy it when students like the above mentioned one, attempt to make sense of bibliology. Some, however, don’t. There are some students who simply say, “What the Bible says is true,” without trying to find an explanation for some of the more problematic issues. This is a matter of being lazy, theologically. The same can be said about UUs who have no use for scripture, seeing it only as an archaic instrument of oppression.

As for taking advantage of the blessing to be at a conservative Christian seminary … if it is true that our checkbook shows our real values, then I feel that I have adequate proof that I appreciate the opportunity. All of the time? No. Going to school in a place where the students and faculty consider my beliefs to be heresy and that I am probably going to Hell (and taking congregants with me) does occasionally chafe. And occasionally, I would like to get into a discussion about metaphor, rather than always working from the assumption that the Bible is the literal truth.

Going to seminary, whether one is attending a UU seminary, or a conservative Christian seminary, is about learning, questioning, and growing into a minister. That’s what I’m attempting to do, and I write about my experiences on my blog.

Sanctimony does not serve us well, whether it is in assuming that a fundamentalist does not use reason or assuming that a UU seminarian harbors a belief in the terminal uniqueness or superiority of our religion.

A UU Seminarian in Bibleland 2

So, another issue with being a UU Seminarian in Bibleland is that I'm listening to the rhetoric, and reading the Bible, but being a UU, I introduce reasoning into the mix, unfettered by the need to have everything neatly equal Jesus is Lord and the Bible is Inerrant.

So, I'm studying for my test Monday and my mind wanders, questioning certain suppositions.

Belief: The Bible is inerrant.

Question: Was Scripture written by men?
Answer: Yes, but they were inspired by God.

Question: Did those men have free will or did God strip them of it?
Answer: Everyone has free will.

Question: Has there been any person, other than Jesus, who was perfect?
Answer: No, and that's blasphemy to even think about it. Jesus is and was the only perfect human.

Question: So the apostles weren't perfect?
Answer: No.

Question: And the early church leaders, who decided on what would be canonical, were they perfect humans?
Answer: No.

Question: And all of the people who have translated the Bible, were they perfect?
Answer: No.

Question: But the Bible is the inerrant word of God?
Answer: Yes.

I sometimes wonder, as I'm studying, if going to a school that is so NOT a UU seminary is the right thing to do. Much like when I memorized geometry theorems in high school, I wonder, as I try to memorize Romans 10:9-10*, how much this will help me in life.

But I can't deny that this makes me pause, unpack, and think through assumptions of religious logic.

*9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


A plane has crashed, right before, and right near, where it was supposed to land, just an ordinary commute.

Family members of those on board are together, with clergy.

Prayers for the families and friends. Prayers for the clergy there with them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fred Davie, the openly gay president of Public/Private Ventures, has been named to serve on President Barack Obama’s Policy Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A UU Seminarian in Bibleland

I can say with great certainty that the vast majority of my classmates (and most of my professors) are biblical literalists. It's interesting to see the thought processes if one must work within those confines.

In Pastoral Care last night, we were reading a bit of Genesis, the part about "male and female, he made them." The context for this was that we were about to embark on a discussion about the physiological aspects of mental/emotional problems.

The conversation segued into a bit of theology, as someone questioned how it was that God made both male and female, before the woman was made from man. Now, this was not a UU conversation ... remember, it was between biblical literalists, so the feeling is "This happened, we just don't know how to understand it." The conversation weaved a bit, with one person timidly asking if in Adam, there were both male and female aspects, and the professor saying NO, that male and female are very different, physiologically. And then a young man (well, in his late 20's, probably), pointed out that the male is born with X and Y chromosomes and it is he who decides the sex of any children he fathers, so maybe this all fit. And even the professor got a "Hey, that's true" look on his face.

So, it's very interesting for me, a biblical non-literalist. These are intelligent people, trying hard to understand and make modern sense out of ancient words.

But I have to admit, that there are occasions during these long conversations when to me, it all feels a little ridiculous. And Zell Miller begins ranting in my head, "Don't yew know what a metafer is???"

And no, I didn't bring up Lilith.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I think having 4 kids is easier than having 1

Most of the time.

Today, however, is one of those You Are The Parent of Four Children days.

The Boy missed 3 days of school last week due to strep, so the combination of Type A - Gifted Child - OCD was causing him to flip out this morning.

The Princess looked a little ... strange ... this morning. Looked closer. She had cut her bangs to maybe 1 inch long. Then I did the stupid parent thing. I asked a direct question. "Did you cut your bangs?" Big Wide Eyes. Noooooo, she said. I mean, directly lied. Standing there in front of me with bangs that are 4 inches shorter than they were yesterday. I would ask, "How stupid do kids think their parents are?" but that's not really an answer I want, do I?

And Bo Peep, who is the perfect student, with perfect conduct, and extremely shy ... wet her pants, because she thought if she asked to go to the restroom, the teacher would "move my clip and then I wouldn't get a stamp." I went up to the school with dry pants ... oof, she looked so crushed, so embarrassed. Just pitiful. I wanted to whisk her away but I knew that would just make it a thousand times more difficult to go to school tomorrow.

Little Warrior, however, is happily playing by herself, and providing me some amusement, as she does the voices for all 20 of the dolls she is playing with. Hey, I was a youngest kid, too. Sometimes you just know to lie low.

Somedays, I have to go to class. Tonight, I get to go.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Spiritual Gifts

EDIT: Want to take the same test I am? Go here. Let me know a) your spiritual gifts and b) how you think the test could be adapted for Unitarian Universalism.

In my Pastoral Care class, we were given a "Spiritual Gifts" assessment to fill out. You had to rate yourself from Strongly Agree to Completely Disagree on statements such as:

  • People seem to be willing to follow my leadership without much resistance.
  • It is a joy for me to proclaim God's plan of salvation to unchurched people.
  • I enjoy doing routine tasks for the glory of God.
  • People seem to view me as one who believes everything is possible.
These then correlated to a list of "spiritual gifts." Things like being:
  • An apostle
  • A prophet
  • An evangelist
  • A pastor
  • A teacher
  • Music
  • Knowledge
  • Serving
  • Leadership
  • Administration
  • Faith
And more.

The results didn't surprise me, both in terms of my highs and lows. Especially my lows. This assessment was weighted towards what you like to do, not what you feel you should do. (And yes, I did employ a liberal amount of interpretation to the statements so that they better fit my beliefs. For example, I DO find it a joy for me to proclaim God's plan of salvation to unchurched people. But I would bet that my vision of God's plan of salvation differs a wee bit from that of my classmates who tend to be conservative Christian.)

Some of my weaknesses, I have no problem with. Like Faith. I don't think everything is possible. And I'm okay with that. Or Healing, in terms of this test. Craftsmanship. I enjoy it, sometimes, but it's not my gift. (Baking cupcakes was not on the list of gifts.)

But, were there any gifts that I value highly, yet score lowly? Um, er ... yeah.

So I began thinking about what I value. What I think is important. And comparing that to my "spiritual gifts."

And it confirmed what I've been feeling, which is that I need to work on some areas. And by work, I mean work. Engage the body and let the brain take care of itself.

According to this assessment, my spiritual gifts lends themselves to being a pastor, a teacher ... and an apostle.

I've told you that one of my favorite movies is Robert Duvall's "The Apostle," right?

For me, at this time, three big areas of value to me are prophetic voice, pastoral care, and serving others. Right now, prophetic voice is ready for the Big and Tall shop. Pastoral care is coming along nicely, though I need to be more careful about telling the Prophetic Voice to hush while I'm talking to someone about their problems. Two ears, one mouth, use proportionally.

Serving others ... as in, roll up your sleeves, pick up a hammer/a bar of soap/sort groceries ... well, it's not in proportion to what I value in my heart. I think as a UU, prophetic voice is very important. But I think serving is more important. I'd like to use my prophetic voice to proclaim to the rooftops how important, how spiritually fulfilling it is to serve others. Matthew 25:35, Baby. But I need to order my life in such a way that I am preaching what I practice.

What are your spiritual gifts?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sad. Mad.

CutieGirl, whose parents had to call a funeral home this week, is having a difficult time.

How do you call a funeral home while your child is still alive? I asked The Husband. He didn't know. And we hope we never have to find out.

The evil monster inside her just keeps growing, doubling, tripling, every day. Her mother holds her gently, around the oxygen mask and IV, and feels the tumors pushing from the inside, all over her body, an internal boa constrictor suffocating her from the inside out.

God, I think I've made my peace with you. I know it's not your fault. I know you don't cause this evil. I know you can't, or don't, choose to save some and not others. But times like this, I can't help but lash out in fury. I still can't wrap my head around it. How can a child die of cancer? I can't can't can't understand. And in this moment of human selfishness, I think, what good is it to be God if you can't stop children from dying? Dying so painfully?

Sometimes, I just can't be objective. Can't be philosophical. Can't be spiritually mature.

“I tell ya ever since he was an itty bitty boy, sometimes he talks to the Lord and sometimes he yells at the Lord, tonight he just happens to be yellin' at him."

Yesterday, I took The Boy in to get a strep diagnosis (Dr. Mom) confirmed. While there, I overheard our pediatrician on the phone. She said the name of our oncologist.

When she came into the room, I asked, "Another cancer child?"

She nodded. A child, my son's age, who went in for a no-big-deal thing ... now, his mom has to come in to see his doctor so she can tell her that the no-big-deal turned out to be a really-big-deal. Another family, right now, is reeling. And saying, but how can a child -- my child -- have cancer?

Little Warrior climbs up into my lap. "When you take a shower, then I'm going to take a shower because I have to wash my hair!" she says.

We cuddle for a few minutes. I can't help running my hands over her body. It doesn't bring me much relief, as I run my fingers over bumps and lumps that are ribs, scars, fat belly. Too much scope for the imagination, to paraphrase Anne.

The Boy, still home from school from the now-confirmed strep, just came to the upstairs railing. "Mom, I kinda understand the whole Jesus and God thing, even though they say Jesus and God are the same thing, but what's the Holy Spirit? I don't get that."

I promise to explain it to him, after I take my shower.

It's a good place to yell at the Lord.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama: "Too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another -

... as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance." Includes humanists when discussing different religious peoples:

National Prayer Breakfast

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


"What are YOU doing?" chuckled The Husband. I popped my head into the kitchen to see Little Warrior virtually hanging from our vegetable baskets, her other hand holding a bunch of bananas. She smiled, canary feathers dropping from the corners of her grin. Full of energy, she is rosy, plump, and healthy-looking. And I know it doesn't mean anything.

I lost my brother right before my 10th birthday. I have a friend who lost her dad when she was in high school. We agree that along with the loss of the person, another big thing you lose is that feeling of "It can't happen to me."

We often have bulging pockets full of what we perceive of as protection. Karmic condoms, we think.

Slowly, I am being stripped of all of them. I've learned that having one big tragedy in your life doesn't protect you from more. I've learned that no matter how much you appreciate your family and are grateful for your life, it doesn't mean heartbreak isn't looming.

And in 2008, I learned that looking healthy doesn't mean much. Every scan after that first cancer, The Husband and I would say, "Look at how healthy she is. Look at her energy. Surely there can't be cancer inside ..."

But there was.

So, we don't have that to give us hope. We know that for a while, cancer can hide inside a blooming flower.

But we have hope. Hope is not faith. Hope is tremulous, uncertain. But it is hope.

Right now, we have friends whose hold on hope is tenuous ... or fast fading. One's daughter has something "suspicious" in her lungs. But they are having to wait 6 weeks to scan again. Another just came back from their Make-A-Wish trip, expedited by medical circumstance, and can feel a 10 cm lump in her abdomen. They knew her cancer was aggressive, but they didn't know it would be ... so very. And the one I just. can't. think. about. ... her parents were advised to contact the funeral home and make arrangements.

We have hope. Tremulous, uncertain, based on no false promises, no "surely since she ..."

But it is hope. And it is real. And we are grateful.

And Feb. 17, we have scans.