Friday Five: Keeping My Cool

Deb writes:

Ahhhhh… Just a few short months ago, we were shoveling snow. Today, we’re sweating buckets!

Highs in the 90s. Humidity in the “uncomfortable” range. And air quality in the “red” zone. It’s summer here in the Washington, DC Metro area, and I’m not really a fan.

Recognizing that RevGalBlogPals are from around the world, your weather may be different. But play along and tell us how YOU beat the heat when it’s in season with this week’s Friday Five.

Tell us your favorite:

1. Cool treat

I’m a big fan of Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Greek Yogurt – Liz Lemon & Strawberry Shortcake are my favorite. I also love the Trader Joe’s Soy Ice Cream Cherry w/ Chocolate Chunks. Divine.

2. Cool drink

I love LOVE the Strawberry Limeade at Sonic. I also enjoy a nice tall glass of iced tea. And really, on a hot day, who can beat a margarita on the rocks with salt?

3. Cooling-off place

I typically stay where there’s air conditioning, in my house mostly. However, I have a nice pool at my apartment complex so I go there on weekends.

4. Cool clothes

Linen. Lots of linen. I also like a nice simple knit dress, shorts/t-shirt (but cute, of course, duh).

5. Best alternative to air-conditioning

Honey, I live in AZ – there is no alternative to air conditioning.

Share a photo of your favorite hot weather “chill out” spot.


11 Things It Took This Dude 42 Years to Learn

Today I was referred to a blog post that was a list of 11 things the author has learned over his nearly 42 years on this earth. The list is so amazing and as my next birthday is 42, I really identified with what he had to say. When I read through the list I felt like it could be boiled down to one statement – Don’t be a victim; take control of your own life. I am a huge fan of people taking personal responsibility and that is such a rare thing. In my years in HR and even in my current role to some extent, a lot of folks are fairly quick to look to external situations on which to blame their poor choices. No, this last tardy didn’t get you fired, it’s all the OTHER times you were late or called out. If you were that good at basketball, the scouts would’ve found you.

Some of these people really have had genuinely terrible lives and have had to overcome a lot. I get it. I’ve had some difficult things to live through myself. But at what point are you going to take responsibility for your current choices? When are you going to stop letting your past experiences determine your future outcomes? It sucks that you had an absent father and your family didn’t have a lot of money. So throwing yourself at guys you think are rich is the best way to go? You have 3 kids by 3 different men and none of them are still around. How’s that working for you?

11 things it took me 42 years to learn

As I round the corner towards the still youngish age of 42, I’ve had some time to reflect upon what’s worked and what hasn’t in my life. Periodically, I feel the need to share some of this wisdom. Usually this happens when I haven’t been drinking much and my brain wants to dump information. Here we are.

So here’s some advice. I know you didn’t ask for it, you probably wonder why I think I’m qualified to give it, and there’s a good chance you’re going to ignore it. I’m okay with that. This blog entry will tick a box in my subconscious need to feel like I’m connecting to people through words, and probably make me cringe when I’m out of phase with this creative streak I’m currently riding. That’s my cycle. Fun stuff, right? I’m already partially cringing.

Anyway, here we go.

1. Play like you practice.

If you’ve heard it from a coach, you know what it means. It means don’t save yourself for the big game. Don’t imagine a time when everything is real and you’ll finally be able to give it 100%. This is it. It’s real right now: your writing, your acting, your creating, your parenting, your working, your choices in life. There may never be a big game, or at least, not the one you imagine from the comfort of your couch while you’re playing Minecraft instead of rewriting your sketch. Time slips quickly, and the impression you make on people now will have lasting repercussions as your peers rise through the ranks and eventually have the power to hire you, or not. You play like you practice. You’ll have no idea how to actually execute when opportunity arrives if you haven’t been giving it everything until that day comes.

2. Trust your instinct.

If you’re miserable in your job, quit. If you’ve chosen the wrong career, make a plan to switch. If something feels wrong, you’re right. Fix it, and don’t look back. This applies to work, relationships, friendships, and life choices. Wake up in the morning the person you want to be instead of the person you’re constantly trying to change. Sometimes it’s hard work to stay true to the person you know you are. It’s always worth it.

3. Let your dreams change.

You thought you were going to be a famous actor but have slowly begun to resent everything about the career except the end goal you imagine to be the answer to your happiness? It isn’t. This goes back to #1. Life slips by quickly when you sacrifice your current happiness for imagined future happiness for an extended amount of time. People tell you to do what you love. That’s not an expression, it’s a philosophy. Switch your dreams to something that makes you happy right now, not hopefully happy later.

4. Open your eyes to the right person.

The right person is so rarely the one you’ve imagined since you were young. The right person is someone you love to be around; someone who makes you laugh, makes you happy, makes you feel strong. Lots of times, they’re so obviously in front of you that you look right past them. If you find someone like that, latch on and never look back. If your current person doesn’t do those things for you, move on. Seriously, today.

5. Stop comparing your life to others.

Your life has nothing to do with theirs. You imagine their world to be perfect, but it never is. Find your own happiness, be happy for others successes, and fight that envy. It will tear you up and make you hard to be around. Dump your cynicism, while you’re at it. It’s cheap and simple.

6. Go where life blows you.

So to speak. Let that gentle pushing and pulling you feel each day guide you towards where you belong. Say yes to new things. Be open to exciting experience. Try new foods. Travel. Don’t just hate stuff because it’s easier. Maybe you’d love eel. Or urchin. Or the Insane Clown Posse. You don’t know.

7. Measure your failures as cautiously as you measure your successes.

So you failed. Okay. In the same way you are modest about your successes, be modest about your failures. Don’t linger in them. Think of all the hard learning you did while you worked so hard on something that sucked. Valuable knowledge. That’s how it goes sometimes. On to the next one.

8. Stop expecting stuff.

Your friends don’t owe you a job. Your parents don’t want to support you anymore. No one wants to hear you complain. You don’t deserve anything any more than anyone else. You aren’t the center of the world. You are responsible for your own happiness. Stop blaming everyone and everything else if you aren’t there yet. Fix it.

9. Be direct with people.

Fight the urge to say yes to everyone all the time. It’s okay to say no in a nice way. You’ll lose friends if you agree to do something and then just hope it fades away or they forget. Just be honest now and avoid the guilt later.

10. If you find the sweet spot, everything falls into place.

Get yourself to where you’re happiest in work, relationship, hobbies, social activities…and the world will open up to you. If you’re happy, people will want to be around you. If you’re miserable, you become a chore.

11. Be nice to the people who like you.

Don’t ignore their invitations. Don’t blow off their emails. Don’t take friendships for granted. If you do, you’ll eventually find yourself a fringe friend who everyone only kind of likes.

Okay, that’s enough.

I’m sure some people will skewer this. It’s filled with cliches and some preachy horsecrap, but these are some real things I’ve learned. Most of this stuff is probably in self help books or group therapy sessions, but since I’ve managed to avoid both thus far, it’s taken me almost 42 years to learn.

Of course, older folks will shake their heads and chuckle at the notion of an almost 42 year old popinjay spouting any sort of wisdom. So be it. Perhaps you 20 or 30 something youngsters will find a nugget or two in here that you can scoff at, file away, and then one day spout as your own after a hard lesson or two toughens you up.

Or maybe you already figured this stuff out and I’m just slow.



Brain dump: complete.

Back to the Bay

Since Thursday I’ve been in San Francisco visiting friends and doing the SF AIDS Walk with my company’s team. This is my first time back since I moved back to Phoenix last August. I have had the most fabulous time. The timing of this trip was about doing the AIDS Walk but also about some personal stuff that I’m needing to move past and I needed a change of scenery to do it. I think it’s working out. I’ve had a chance to see a lot of friends and to just enjoy their company and catch up. On some level it feels like I never left and I’m just hanging out with friends. However, it does feel different because when I did live here I was stressed and tired and broke and didn’t go out much. It’s FANTASTIC to have your friends live where you take your vacations. I totally see why people visit here now.

Unfortunately, housing prices here are taking another dramatic upturn and from what I understand you can’t get into a studio for under $1,700 a month and that’s a shithole with no kitchen. If you want something livable, it’s more like $1,900. For a studio. I can’t wrap my head around that any more. I have kind of mapped out what I want my next job to be with my company and if it does entail a move back to the Bay Area, there will be no more city dwelling for me. I’d prefer to stay where I am and I hope the job allows it, but if not, I’ll be a suburban girl. And even then, they’re going to have to pay me a LOT more money.

I thought my return to SF would have a much more emotional impact but really, it was just a great vacation. It was so much fun to see my friends and be part of the AIDS walk event. Here’s a picture of me at the event with my friend Bill. My boobs look like they’re poised to take over the planet.


Happy Birthday, TEEEJ!

Today is my little brother’s birthday. I say “little” because although he’s a good 8 or so inches taller than me, he’s 5 years younger, therefore LITTLE. He’s 36. How did that happen? He’s all gray-haired, responsible and old.

I remember very clearly the night he was born. I remember my mom wearing a long satin nightgown that was an ivory color with short sleeves and it was striped with pastel shades of purple, pink, blue and green. I remember skipping church that day because “mommy doesn’t feel well.” Then I remember being shuttled off to SueEllen’s house to spend the night because the “baby was coming.” This was before the days of knowing the gender ahead of time, so we didn’t know what it was going to be. I really didn’t want a sister. I really didn’t want a sibling, actually. I was cool with the state of things. But the parents went and decided that I was becoming too “difficult” and needed a brother or sister to “calm her down.” Whatever.

My brother was born at 9:30pm that night and I’m figuring that after they did all the APGAR stuff and cleaned up the situation there it was close to midnight when they called to tell me I had a brother. I was sleeping on SueEllen’s couch and I was gently shaken awake to receive a phone call from my dad. He said in a very excited voice, “Hi Tiffy! (they called me that then. if anyone tries it now, I get very stabby) You have a little brother! His name is Todd!” One thing to note here is that a family trait, inherited from my father and passed on to both me and my brother is that we do not wake up well under any circumstance. It takes us a while to warm to the fact that we’re no longer asleep and when we’re suddenly awakened by loud noises it’s the stuff of Three Stooges films. So dad makes this exciting announcement to very groggy 5-year-old me and I mumble an “ok” and hang up the phone and stumble back to SueEllen’s couch. That’s pretty much it.

After he was born there was the phase of insensitive visitors breezing past me to hold the baby and me with my little hurt feelings crying that no one wanted to talk to me anymore. This is why my mother and I ALWAYS take a gift to the older sibling and play with them first and then ask THEM to introduce us to their new baby. Simple new baby etiquette, people!

The fact that he was a boy and that there was a 5-year age difference was really quite perfect. We never had to share anything and I SUPER hate sharing. Ask my bestie from 6th grade. She’s been trying to get me to share for 30 years. No go. We didn’t have to share rooms, bathrooms, teachers, friends, and even schools for very long. It worked out pretty well.

Today I’d have to say we get along pretty well. Naturally I prefer his children to him, but that’s to be expected. They are way more pleasant. He’s an excellent husband, father, musician, designer, and a pretty good guy. Here’s to 36 more, Little Bro!

Egypt Everywhere

Ok. I know you guys are sick of hearing about Egypt, and believe me, I’m almost there with you. Almost. The thing is, a year and a half before I went to Egypt, it was everywhere in my world. I would buy books to read, and without knowing it, there would be a significant portion of the plot take place in Egypt. Movies & TV shows would have Egypt-related characters or plots. I couldn’t stop watching Cairo Time on Netflix. Then, just before I moved from San Francisco to Phoenix, I hired a girl who turned out to be her daugher! I know. Spooky, right?

Last night I was reading a few chapters in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and she used the randomness of taking a trip to Egypt & France as an illustration of something equally random. I JUST WENT TO BOTH EGYPT AND FRANCE IN THE SAME TRIP. Finally, This morning I actually gasped when combing through my Feedly reader (I’m getting used to it, Google, thanks for asking) and I saw this article from Christianity Today entitled YOU PROBABLY WON’T BE SENT TO EGYPT. Except that I did go to Egypt! Things happened. Good, amazing awesome things. It was a great experience. And yet Egypt is still everywhere. Everywhere. Do I have some sort of Egypt-related Baader-Meinhof thing happening?

The CT Article, written by Carolyn Arends, reflects on the Ignatian concepts of consolation and desolation. Arends explains them this way:

“Consolation is understood not as happy feelings (although they can be its byproduct), but rather as that which opens us up to God and others—and quickens our pulse for the things of the kingdom. Even difficult circumstances can lead to consolation if we sense God in them. Desolation, too, is more nuanced than I imagined. It has to do with that which distracts us from our awareness of God’s presence and turns us in on ourselves (whether our immediate experience of the diversion is positive or negative).”

I’m moving back into church leadership after a year-long break and that and some personal stuff has sent me to focus on personal worship and study more than I have in a long time. Part of this time has made me feel much more connected to my time in Egypt and what is currently happening there. One of the people we met there is trying to run a ministry to children in the slums and he’s floundering a bit because he has passion but lacks knowledge of how to start and run an organization. I have of late felt like I want to help him with that, so I’ve been communicating with him and doing some research and have already found him some great local resources. He’s going to visit a school on Friday, in fact. I will very likely be returning to help him create even more structure around his program and see what can be done.

I don’t know why Egypt is so in my consciousness, but it’s FREAKING ME OUT. I almost feel like God is saying, I want you to go there, and I’m all, Dude – ON IT! But God still keeps putting stuff out there. Ok. Got it. What is this about?

The God Detour

This was the sermon I preached this morning at Foothills Christian Church. The Cycle of Works/Cycle of Grace is from the book Cycle of Grace by Trevor Hudson & Jerry Haas.

Amos 7:10-17

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:

“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
and Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land.’”

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”

14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,

“‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
and you yourself will die in a pagan[c] country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land.’”


Luke 10:25-37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


The summer time is made for travel, especially for desert dwellers who need to get out of the heat. When I was a kid we didn’t travel a ton because my dad owned a business he needed to keep track of but we’d get away on short trips whenever we could. We had a motorhome, which was a BRILLIANT way to travel and in the summers we’d park it up at Munds Park and go up there every weekend. We took it to Colorado, California and Oklahoma to visit family. My dad likes driving and we road tripped everywhere.

In addition to our family road trips for vacation, we had major commutes on a daily basis. When I was in middle school and high school we lived in Litchfield Park, off Dysart Road and basically Bethany Home. Our house was at the end of civilization and then there was dirt. Now it’s completely populated, which means you all might now know how old I am. But back then, it was nothing. My brother and I attended private schools, so we had to schlepp from Litchfield in to school at 30th avenue and Bethany when I was in middle school and then when I went to high school, I moved to a school at 32nd Street & Shea. This was pre-interstate 10, pre-SR 51, almost all surface streets. Then about 3 months before I graduated we moved to 7th street & Greenway. Thanks a lot J

There are all kinds of travel. There’s the big trip kind of travel and there’s the everyday getting to work, school, wherever travel. Whether it’s an event or it’s a routine, God is still present in all of it and God calls us to be God’s ambassadors of neighborliness.

In our scriptures today we see that both Amos and the Samaritan were on journeys. Amos was specifically told to leave home and go somewhere for a specific period of time with a specific message. The Samaritan was going about his normal routine. Both types of journeys are just as God-directed as the other. We have all been given specific missions and we’ve all experienced God’s calling as an interruption to our normal routine.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, the lawyer was also on a journey. He was very concerned about his journey continuing into the afterlife and he looked to Jesus to give him a checklist of what he needed to do.

In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner talks about the lawyer’s definition of “neighbor” this way:

“When Jesus said to love your neighbor, a lawyer who was present asked him to clarify what he meant by neighbor. He wanted a legal definition he could refer to in case the question of loving one ever happened to come up. He presumably wanted something on the order of: “A neighbor (hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part) is to be construed as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statute miles from one’s own legal residence unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereinafter to be referred to as the party of the second part) living closer to the party of the first part than one is oneself, in which case the party of the second part is to be construed as neighbor to the party of the first part and one is oneself relieved of all responsibility of any sort or kind whatsoever.”

Instead Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the point of which seems to be that your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyers response is left unrecorded.When Jesus said to love your neighbor, a lawyer who was present asked him to clarify what he meant by neighbor. He wanted a legal definition he could refer to in case the question of loving one ever happened to come up. He presumably wanted something on the order of: “A neighbor (hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part) is to be construed as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statute miles from one’s own legal residence unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereinafter to be referred to as the party of the second part) living closer to the party of the first part than one is oneself, in which case the party of the second part is to be construed as neighbor to the party of the first part and one is oneself relieved of all responsibility of any sort or kind whatsoever.

Instead Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the point of which seems to be that your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyers response is left unrecorded.”

The lawyer was caught up in the cycle of works. He started by believing that he needed the works to give him significance. Once he achieved some level of success he would receive recognition that gave him a sense of significance. That success would give him a spiritual high that would hopefully lead to acceptance.

Jesus journey was modeled for us in the circle of grace – knowing he had come from God and was going back to God (John 13). His calling to go about his every day and be interrupted can be illustrated in the cycle of grace. Jesus began his journey with God telling him that he was beloved and in Jesus, God was pleased. We then see how Jesus maintained his relationship with God by often going off by himself to pray. Jesus moves toward his ultimate purpose on earth with an affirmation of this call in John 13:3. We have confirmation of the completion of Jesus’ calling in John 17:4 when he says, I have completed the work you called me to do.cycle of grace

Theologian Miroslav Volf said, “Justification by grace takes the price tags off human beings so as to give them their proper dignity: they are loved unconditionally by God.” We all are already accepted. Already loved unconditionally. We only have to allow ourselves to be sustained by our connection to God and let God lead us to our calling.

The Samaritan in this story stopped and helped someone that was not someone he would’ve helped. Who is the most villainous character you can think of? If you want to shout it out, that’s ok. When Jesus is telling this story, the people listening would’ve gasped because normally storytellers would’ve cast the Samaritan as the villain, the most despicable character. I like to think of Darth Vader. This guy, the “villain” of the story was on his way to Jerusalem. I don’t know what he was doing going there. It’s not like he would have a lot of friends there. On business, maybe? Maybe he was going to the temple to make a sacrifice. Samaritans had their own houses of worship, but maybe he wanted to make a sacrifice in Jerusalem, just to hedge his bets. Either way, he was interrupted by the sight of someone who needed his help and he was willing to let his trip to Jerusalem be interrupted to help. He was called to help this man.

What about the Priest & Levite? When we read this story we tend to think of them as the villains and the Samaritan as the good guy. Just for today I’d like us to think of them differently. Because of their status in the religious orders, the priest and levite would’ve been prohibited from service if they came in contact with anything dead or almost dead. They had a calling and a journey of their own to follow. Maybe they aren’t villains. Maybe they were people who were responsive to a different call. It’s not up to us to decide how other people should live out the call of God in their lives.

A week or two ago, a team of us were putting together a report for the Hope Partnership project. We had to figure out the amount of hours we spend doing missional outreach as a congregation. To be honest, it’s not that many. But you know what? We have a lot of people in this community who volunteer with all kinds of organizations every week and we’re so proud that you are all doing that great work and living out your calling that way.

Today in your bulletin you each should have received a heart and a hand. Don’t mock my cutting abilities. I was up pretty late working on those. We’re going to write on those, so if you have pens or pencils, get those out and get ready to write. First, I’d like you to take the heart and write on there a cause or social justice issue about which you are passionate. It could be domestic violence, food insecurity, or human trafficking. Then, if you are involved in an organization for one of those causes, write down a little bit of what you do on that hand.

We’re going to take these hearts and hands and attach them to this board at the end of the service to give us a visual reminder of the passions and efforts of our community.

No one needs to feel left out here. If you have a passion but haven’t yet connected it with an organization, I’d like you take that heart where you wrote your passion and put it in the offering box in the back. I’m going to collect those and see if we can get you connected somewhere either in our community or in another organization where you can pursue that call.

Sometimes on our journey, we are the one who is asked to go to a new place to complete a specific task. Sometimes we are going about our normal travel and we encounter someone who needs our kindness. Sometimes we are traveling and we are the victim of horrible circumstances and have to rely on one who might have at one time been considered an enemy to us.


What Goes Up Must Come Down

Today I spent the majority of my time prepping for Sunday. I’m preaching for the first time at my church which I’m excited about, but also feel a little bit of pressure to do well. I’ve also spent a lot of time talking to my friend Mona about her company and the ministry of one of her friends and I’ve started to get some clear direction to some of my own next steps in life and career, which is exciting. I spent a little time today looking into some graduate programs and I’ve been getting a little excited about what’s ahead.

Then the George Zimmerman verdict is read. Not guilty. The African-American community is again told that their lives have less value. When the same law used to acquit George Zimmerman is used as a weapon against an abuse victim, we have some serious problems. Later in the evening, a news report comes that a young, talented actor died today of an apparent drug overdose. The sadness is not that a celebrity is dead but in a reminder of the vicious grip that addiction has on so many.

These plus the situations in Darfur, Egypt, Syria, Quebec and many other places around the world can bring me back down and make me feel almost guilty for being excited about my own future. I realize that’s irrational and I should celebrate life’s ups but it’s hard when friends are in the midst of really difficult circumstances and you want to share your joy but feel it’s inappropriate in light of their current circumstances.

This week our Jewish brothers & sisters will be observing Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in their calendar. This day (Monday into Tuesday) marks the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the accompanying loss of life. Rabbi Michael Bernstein wrote a piece over at the Huffington Post on the relationship between anger and sadness. While both come from similar root words, Bernstein writes, “it is anger that often is emphasized as the emotion most likely to drive us away from our better purposes and occlude our experience of G*d’s goodness. Anger can make us think of ourselves more than we think about others.”

I think in American Christianity we don’t make room for sorrow enough. We give people a couple of weeks to be sad after the death of a loved one, but otherwise, we think we should be happy all the time. There is an appropriate time for sorrow, like today when we are faced with how far we have yet to go when it comes to racial equality. When policies are made that take food from the mouths of children. When guns are valued more highly than the lives of kids.

There is a place for sorrow in the holy. Bernstein goes on to say, “I think that the question that confronts us in this place and at this season may be how to find the sacred even in sorrow. How to find a place for sadness as well as the wholeness of a broken heart.

May we open our hearts to the full range of what makes us human and dedicate even our brokenness to the work of repairing the world.”


Friday Five: Silly Sentences

revkjarla writes:

Because I am feeling silly, or perhaps, just out there, our FF is dedicated to creating silly sentences.  We all need a little meaningless creativity and humour, right?

Use these five words (in any tense) in a sentence:

1. pulpit, puppy, wrench, word, mouse

The puppy pulled out his wrench and said, “Well, my word, here’s your problem; there’s a mouse in the pulpit!”

2. weep, love, prayer, bassoon, chair

My prayer is that I don’t begin to weep and fall off the chair playing the bassoon I love.

3. heart, shutter, wish, turtle, walk

The shutter kept the sunlight from warming the turtle’s heart, who only wished she could walk a little faster.

4. howl, worry, window, story, trust

To howl out the window in worry is to not trust the story into which you were born.

5. garden, hat, shepherd, laugh, sigh

The shepherd took one look at my garden hat and began to laugh, a fit of giggles that ended in a contented sigh.

The Women of Islam

I will be the first to admit that I know NOTHING about Islam. Nothing. When I went to Egypt I met some great moderate Muslims (yes, Fox News, they do exist) and learned a lot about their perspective on faith and religion. Since I’m obsessed with everything going on in Egypt, I’m constantly reading lots of articles and opinions, and tonight I read an article about two prominent women in Islamic history. The point of the article was to tell the history of two women for whom places in Egypt and Syria are named and are targets of violence.

Morsi’s supporters have created their own “Tahrir Square” at a mosque called Rabia el-Adawiya, named after a woman who lived in 7th century Iraq. The following is from the article in The Christian Science Monitor.

“At the time that Rabia el-Adawiya lived in Iraq, she was praised by women and men alike for her mystic devotion to God and her life of Sufi simplicity and sincerity. Carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other – to set fire to heaven and put out the flames of hell – she famously proclaimed:

“O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.

But if I worship You for Your Own sake alone,

withhold not from me Your everlasting Beauty.”

Rabia is considered by scholars to be the first proponent of the Sufi understanding of God/Allah as “the Beloved.” The past respect afforded to her as a pious believer and influential teacher of both men and women stands in stark contrast to the way women in Egypt today have been treated by both the Muslim Brotherhood and by predatory protesters in Tahrir Square, where sexual assault is rampant.”

That’s a pretty amazing prayer. Not unlike that of Julian of Norwich, the Christian mystic, who said, “God, of Your goodness give me Yourself, for you are enough for me. And only in You do I have everything. Amen.” Kinda similar.

The month-long religious observance of Ramadan started this week, and during this month, Muslims all over the world fast during the day and celebrate with a meal in the evening. Every evening. That’s a lot of partying. Part of the commemoration of this month is the celebration of when the Prophet received the Qu’ran from God. I’ve downloaded it on my Kindle but I haven’t read it yet. I’m going to at least start reading it this month and see what I can learn from it. Relax – I’m not converting. There’s no WAY I’d go a month without eating all day.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

I kinda just had the best weekend ever. It was pretty low key, really fun, and very relaxing. I decided to drive to LA for the 4th weekend and see some friends, toodle around the area and just be away, and I gotta tell you – I made the right choice. I needed to be around good friends with whom I can be totally comfortable, it doesn’t feel like work and I can just have fun and love them and be loved by them. That super happened and it was great.

Brian was my original gay boyfriend. I have quite a gaggle of them now, but he’s the OG. He and I met at church (of course) about 15ish years ago and we used to go out on Monday nights and do happy hour and a movie. At the time he was trying to pray away the gay but he’s thankfully moved out of that phase and he has an AMAZING partner, Tom, with whom he has been for 10 years. They haven’t decided about getting married, now that they can, but if they do I REALLY want to at least sing but maybe even officiate. I’d BETTER be asked to do something major, boys!

I also got to spend some time with the Lilster. Lilyan and I have been friends since we were in middle school. She knows my crap, I know her crap, it’s all good. We went to a HILARIOUS follies show that was patriotically themed, starring a local drag queen celebrity and some former Disney cast members. Then we had a fabulous Mexican dinner at the restaurant that houses the theater, along with some of Lil’s co-workers and friends. Lovely evening.

I also go to go to Disneyland! I haven’t been since my 30th birthday, so for those of you keeping score at home, that’s only a couple of years, and by couple I mean ELEVEN. How does that happen? Anyway, Disney with Jaci the Irish dancer. Lovely girl, dancer, retail goddess and smart cookie. We had a blast being horrified by people’s outfits and behavior, eating corn dogs & ice cream and being jostled about by the rides.

Today I’ll head to San Diego to see some friends from SF who are there for a vacation and then I’ll head back to Phoenix. I’m feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to back to work. Until my next trip, which is to San Francisco in about 10 days 🙂