Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What is Christmas All About?

Sometimes I come across a story that makes me want to cry out and prove the pen is mightier than the sword. This is one of those times.

"By 4:55, [Black Friday] with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 [in front of a Walmart in New York] had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless. Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said. "

Mr. Damour died at the scene. While the rescue workers were trying to save him, shoppers continued to flow in until they closed the store. Truly, there are no words for such horror. In the face of such evil and greed, words fail utterly. Looking at my local newspaper's story on this, I particularly liked one online comment. It's stated a stronger way than I would have said it, but I think the writer has some great points.

"Face reality folks. Christmas is no longer the celebration that it was intended to be. It is simply a season of greed, waste and hatred. When was it that children told parents what they "had to have" for Christmas? When was it that a gift became what someone wanted and not what the giver wanted them to have? Greed is the primary force behind Christmas. Second only to ego. People have ego that drives them to spend more than they can afford to "show-off" on Christmas by giving the biggest and most expensive gifts. Imagine all those who ran past this innocent man, trampling him boasting on Christmas as they hand over that black Friday gift. How many will say, "Look at this gift I got you. You are so important to me that I killed a man to get you a $30 MP3 player! Aren't I wonderful?"

This year in particular has had me questioning what the season is about. (If my family is reading this, please understand what I am about to say is not meant personally toward you.) I have been watching people at the grocery store, seeing the Christmas displays go up right after Halloween and the gaudy holiday displays on people's lawns. Snowmen and reindeer are everywhere. It seemed Thanksgiving was about eating not necessarily as a celebration of life and the gifts it holds much less a mention of who we are grateful to. I love the olives on the fingers and the turkey as much as anyone else but it rather frightens me that I didn't think about the thankful part of Thanksgiving until the day before. (Thus you read one of my recent postings.)

So I am there celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. A Thanksgiving tradition for my brother in law is to go through each add for Black Friday and map out his buying plans for the next day. It's not shopping, it's buying. According to him, you do not shop on Black Friday. You get in, you get what you want, and you get on to the next store. He is very systematic about this and makes sure my sister is too. Now, I don't actually have a problem with the idea of getting a good deal on an item you need or would really like to give someone. I myself have a talent for finding things on a good sale. (Consider the beautiful ball gown I once bought at J.C. Penney's for $9.76.) But quite frankly, most of the stuff bought by people are bought by those still spending too much money on things that put their focus in the wrong places. In recent years, this trend of Black Friday has gotten crazier and crazier to the point people are literally camped out on the sidewalks having Thanksgiving dinner delivered to them. So now, not only is Christmas distorted but Thanksgiving, the idea of being grateful to God for our lives, is cast aside before the shiny glass doors of "Stuff-Mart".

Stuff-Mart is a store in one of my absolute favorite Vegi-Tale videos. Madame Blueberry is jealous of her friends and is convinced she has to have all this new stuff so she goes shopping and fills cart after cart after cart. When it is delivered to her house in a tree, the stuff she bought makes it so heavy, the tree bends over, breaks, and falls into the nearby lake. It is only then she sees a poor girl who is thankful for a piece of apple pie on her birthday and finally understands that it is far better for us to be grateful for what we have than to desire what we do not.

I look around me at my life and I am grateful for what I have. There are some things I would like to have like the Grimerie book from Wicked or a docking station for my ipod but those are maybe somedays, things I will save up for and then purchase. I have everything I need and a great deal of what I want. I have enough. I have enough clothes though they aren't the latest style, they are clean and I am comfortable in them. I have shoes including dancing shoes and I know I am very fortunate in that. I have a great camera I love using but that is something I dreamt of for years and worked on saving up enough to be able to purchase. My bed is well over thirty years old and that's not virtue it was given to me by a friend when she moved and I love it. Most of my furniture in fact is secondhand or something I have had since I was a teenager. I like it, it works for me and I have enough decorating talent to make it look like my home to me. I am now old enough to realise unless little stuff has special meaning, like the sister figurines my sister gave to me last Christmas or the Betty Book cup and saucer given to me by a friend, I don't want it. I don't buy that stuff for myself anymore because I know exactly where it will go, nowhere and then I'll have to dust it. I admit, my books are the exception to this idea, I love my library. But I would rather have a few quality things I will get a lot of use out of than a bunch of junk that will break anyway.

But come on, do you really need that huge ass tv that will now be the focus of your living room, bedrooms, and kitchen? Not having a lot of money, these have been pretty easy lessons to put into practice for me. I hope I would hold to the same if I made more. There is a part of me that would love to cruise around the world on a yacht, I long to see more of the world. But it wouldn't make me happy. If I don't choose to be happy now, I would not be happy then. Did the people shopping at that Walmart think what they wanted to buy would make them happy? I don't think it's that simple. Perhaps they too had been saving up for something they wanted. I think where they went astray is when they let the stuff be their focus, getting the deal, letting it fill their vision to the point they left the best things about being human behind- the ability to love and see God in ourselves and others. They ignored human life, a most precious and unique gift, for some crap off the shelf. How did that happen? How did we let our culture come to this? A culture so materialistic to the point we look at Christmas and see the presents under the tree, not the present in the hay. We look at the adds and see stars in our eyes and totally forget to look at the sky and see the stars in His. How did we come to this?

In recent years I believe I have heard mainly two reactions to Christmas. One are the people who revel in the holiday and celebrate it with joy and with God. The others, are the people who believe the only good thing about Christmas is getting it over with. And I have to tell you, I have heard from the second group far more than the first. The second group see the stress, the required gift buying, the trouble it all causes. The first group sees who it's for. Christmas is not something to be gotten over. My heart aches for the people who tell their friends, "Let's get together after the holidays. I need to get through them first." THAT'S THE POINT!!!!!!!! YOU'RE ENTIRELY MISSING THE POINT OF CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!! Christmas is NOT something to get through while you ignore the ones you love and if you are stressed about Christmas, that is your own damn fault and it is up to YOU to do something about it. You cannot blame it on anyone else but yourself. You make your own choices. Christmas is not about the crap. Christmas is not about the stuff. Christmas is about God with us. Say it with me, GOD WITH US. Do you know how incredible that is? THAT is why we put up the lights, that is why we decorate the tree, and the gift he gave us is why we give gifts to each other - to remind us of the greatest gift.

I know finances are tight for many people right now and we all can't spend as much as we often do, but that isn't the point of Christmas anyway. To me, the gift that comes from the heart is worth far more than anything you just pull off the shelf at the store. One of my most memorable Christmas presents is a doll house. I'd wanted one for so long and though I often played with it and thoroughly enjoyed the gift, that is not why it is one of my favorites. That doll house is one of my favorite Christmas presents because of the time and effort it took my family to make it for me. After my sisters and I were in bed, they would drive over to my grandparents house and they would work on making my doll house, several burnt fingers from the hot glue were involved I understand. They love they put into it means for me to me than the house itself. You can do that with many other things. Last year, not for Christmas, I gave a quilt to my friend. The quilt was only a part of the gift, the love it involved took up a lot more room in that gift box than the quilt did. Love is what Christmas is about. Put that first, get creative, and that will mean far more, at least to me it would, than anything you could just go out and buy just to have a gift to give.

Now quite truthfully, this as much a lesson for me as for anyone who reads this. I still have the hope of a child of finding something under my tree Christmas morning, who has fond memories of opening stockings and presents with my sisters and celebrating Christmas Day together. Now that is in the past and I'm trying to learn what Christmas really is about because I don't have the the surprises under my tree or the family on Christmas Day anymore so I am forced to ask these questions for myself. When you take away the presents and the family around you, what is left of Christmas? Is it still as precious as it always was? I don't reproach my family on their choice to get together a few days after Christmas or that we are drastically cutting down the gift giving. I actually am in full agreement with their decision to let my siblings, (I'm the youngest of four in this family) have time with their other families, other parents or in-laws. I have two nieces who are two and a half. One is my sister's daughter, the other is my brother's daughter - they are twenty-three days apart. I want them to have what I had, a Christmas morning at home to open their presents, lay around in their pajamas and play with their new toys. You can't do that if you have to be somewhere else in the morning and then throughout the day. It just brings me to a point to learn something I'd rather learn now than later. When Stuff-Mart is closed, when you bypass the materialism of the season, when the holiday is not what it once was in your memory, was does it look like for me and for you? What is Christmas really about and knowing that, how does it change how we act towards God and each other? Perhaps if we would ask that of ourselves as a culture, because we have all played a part in this, Mr. Damour might still be alive and celebrating with us today. Isn't human life reason enough to ask the question?

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Death of a Salesman

A year and a half ago, Stacey was asked if our tap dancing troupe would participate in a fund raiser by performing two of our pieces in a show. Stacey, always one for having us in a show said yes and soon we were polishing up the dances and working on our costumes. Having performed in front of audiences before whether in one of several choirs (a national television show included here), instrumentally with a bell choir (tv again) or piano, or a little bit of theatre in college, I did not mind being watched by many people. It was the possibility of making a mistake in the dance that made me nervous. But I was still not prepared for what happened to me that night. I fell head over heels in love with the stage. I love the whole thing- the dressing rooms, the crowded hallways full of whispering performers, to the "five minutes On Tap!". I love it all. That night I drove home knowing this is one of the things I was born for and I felt right at home.

In the intervening time as we have gotten to perform several more times including twice at the Elsinore Theatre, this feeling has only intensified. In fact, I was watching a movie last night where they showed a shot of people working on getting a stage ready for a performance and my heart skipped a beat. I simply love being in a show and from the comments Stacey has heard and relayed back to me, it shows.

So it will come as little surprise to people who have seen me perform that I auditioned for and got the part of Ms. Forsythe in "Death of a Salesman", a production my community theatre is putting on. It's a minor female role in the second act, a character who lightens up an otherwise darker scene and helps illustrate what two men in the play are really like. This is the kind of thing I have long desired to be a part of but was too scared to try. But I'm willing to take a chance now, I have that confidence in myself and little fear. I have also hesitated because of the time commitment but since it is a smaller role, for most of November and December, the rehearsal schedule is pretty light for me which works well with my dancing classes. In January and February though, it's much more involved but I'm willing to sacrifice a bit to be a part of this. I will learn so much and I think being a part of this is going to change me in ways I can only now begin to imagine. I think I am going to like the person who comes out of this.

The show runs from January 23rd to February 14th and there will be a lot of rehearsal time leading up to it. I am really looking forward to seeing how a show is put together, to watch the cast gel. By the way, it is an incredible cast of extremely talented people. I highly recommend seeing this show. Tickets are on sale now. You can check out the theatre's website at: www.pentacletheatre.org.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

This may sound funny but this afternoon I realized it is Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks. There is so much in my life to be grateful for. The first things that come into mind are not things at all but people, images. Stacey dancing, Katie cheating at cards, my nieces playing, Emily sitting on her stool, the editorial board laughing together, the folks at Freedom Friends, and countless other friends too many to name. I am beyond grateful for them all. To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all. Everyday of my life I know this to be true on an ever deeper level in my heart.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanks be to God

When God knows you need something, he does not withhold it from your hands. Yesterday I was at Eugene Friends Church to speak about the Quaker Youth Book Project which went well. After the service, a woman I recognized approached me with a smile. Her name is Barbara and we were friends at seminary. Since we all went to school in Portland, we were never great about keeping track of where everyone drove in from. It turns out she has been checking out that church for several weeks and to find each other there was quite a surprise as neither of us were Quaker for most of our time at school. I, in fact, decided to join the Quakers two months before I graduated from seminary so many people never realized the choice I made.

It was SO GOOD to see her, unspeakably so and this post is about why. For that though, I'll tell you how she put it when we were both speaking to the pastor. In our classes there at the seminary, we went so deep with each other, we were more intimate with our souls then we are ever with anyone else, that even though you may not know another person well, you are family just the same and share a strong bond that goes beyond day to day relationships. You can feel it when we meet and you know it's there. Together, we were on an incredible and amazing journey, the hardest one many of us faced and we did it side by side. To this day, years later, when I think of community, I think of them and my time there at George Fox with my friends.

The hard part comes when we graduate and we lose those relationships. There is now this whole part of your soul, places you've been, things you know, worlds you walked in, that is not shared with the world around you. I liken it to a scene near the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo are back at the Green Dragon in Hobbiton. Around them, life goes on oblivious to what they've seen and been through. The four know this and share it together and they all have to find a way to live with that. They have to find a way to go on and live their lives with what they know now about the wider world around them. That scene strongly reminds me of my seminary friends and I.

When my time there was winding down, I had an idea of what I would face afterwards so I went to a trusted professor and I asked him, "What do you do? How do I live in a Christian world with it's ideas and theology when I've come to see things from a more aerial point of view?" He told me to find the other people around me who are also on the fringes and to keep in touch with the friends I made at school. So I have tried to do that to some extent but it's been rather dry lately and I've longed for more. So seeing Barbara was a gift from1 God. We're having lunch next week when I'm back down in Eugene.

This last Sunday in Eugene, I had lunch with my friend, Lou. Spike, Lou, and I were a kind of very odd trio through our years together and I love those guys dearly, they are my brothers. Lou and I can be very open with each other, really honest with our hearts and that felt good. It never surprises him that I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut as I never did very well at that in seminary either. He has stories on me, I'll admit. It's very important to have people like that in our lives-people we can share our burdens with and with whom we help carry each other's loads.

So tonight I sit here extremely grateful for my brothers and sisters. You are immensely precious to me. And I'm even more grateful to God who gave you to me and who brings us together when we all need it so very much.

I don't mean to make this sound like an exclusive club, but we all have these experiences in our lives we can only truly share with the people who were there. I think the seminary should gather up upcoming graduates and give a talk about what they are going to face in the coming years, maybe have a panel of alumni who can give them some practical advice. I think this is an extremely good idea, or at least have the alumni write it out so the graduates can at least be forewarned. Through many talks with friends, I know we've all been dealing with similar feelings since graduation and I wish someone had talked to us. Maybe I should write the article. I've heard these things expressed again and again from many people, I think we need to start helping those who come behind us.

This post, and maybe an article, is for you guys- though we are scattered, God still holds and keeps alive our bonds of community. Thanks be to God.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Photography Recommendation

There are several things going on in my life inside and out I would love to blog about right now but time is short and I need a little while away from a computer, you know, actually relaxing? So I am going to leave you with the one thing I have been bursting to talk to you about: photos. No, not just any photos, photos taken by Emily. Actually photos is way too weak a word, try ART. This last week I finally took a good look at her flickr pages where you can upload your photography and I was stunned. She is GOOOOODDDD!!!!!!!!!!! Extremely talented, an excellent eye, and very creative. Funny too. Her pictures are so beautiful they made my heart ache. I cannot recommend looking at them enough, they are exquisite. Go, go, check it out!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Met God Today

Have you had one of those experiences where it just seems surreal? Mystical, as if time has frozen around you? An experience where you just KNOW? As in knee dropping, humble, stunned awe of God? We go around asking God so many questions, I think we too often believe he is not really going to answer because when he does in a very direct way, we are in shock. I had that tonight.

I was walking downtown tonight after seeing a play thinking to check if my favorite tattoo studio was still open so I could talk to my friend the owner. I was about a block away when I saw the dark windows and figured they had probably closed early as they do sometimes when it's quiet. The man standing beside me at the crosswalk exchanged smiles with me and we struck up a conversation about where we were coming from. (I often talk to strangers, it's so much fun.) I told him about the play which had intrigued me and a line in it I had been rolling around like a marble inside my mouth. He asked me what I did [for a living] and I told him several things I do including spiritual direction which intrigued him. That led us into a conversation about spirituality there in the middle of the sidewalk of my favorite part of downtown. We talked about many things: mysticism, attitude, loneliness, love, images of God, and our interconnection with everything around us. It was like meeting a fellow traveler who hears the same music, one of those rare conversations where you go straight to the deeper and higher things in life, where you connect on a soul level. He made some good observations of me and gave me some good advice. I felt like God had sent him. I know this man is human, but tonight, he could have been an angel for he felt like the hand of God reaching out to touch me when He knew I needed it most. As if his desire to touch me on a more physical level was so strong, he sent this man as a glove to speak to the deepest movements in my heart. This man said to keep God around me, stay in acknowledgement of his presence with me, that he could feel the Divine all around me. He said to remember grace, to wear it like I would a coat, to not keep tabs of sin but to remember I am the daughter of God. We are eternal but we are also limited here by space and time and to keep my feet on the ground. He told me to live and take chances. He also said our attitudes are like sweaters, we can choose which ones we wear, sadness, joy, loneliness, it is up to me what I will wear in my life. And the memories we have? The scraps of memory we hold? We don't remember everything in our lives because we change so much through our journeys and become different people than who we were. He told me to be honest with myself and to be honest with God.

We parted company after some time for our respective destinations: my car and his friends. We both enjoy going to the same coffee shop so I am guessing we will meet again sometime and I suspect, it will be exactly when I need it. So thank you God for being here tonight, for raising your voice, reaching out your touch soI may touch and hear you tonight in a very real way. I love how you fullfill our needs and answer our questions so deeply and so well. I love you with all that I am.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Long Journey Home

Do you ever listen to the music of life, of God? I've been thinking about this lately, asking questions of what is life about and what is my life meant to be. It's turned into one of those times when God gives the answer before you ask the question for I found a book on my bookshelf I bought on sale last year at the gift shop that carries my own books near where I live. It's called, "Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search for the Meaning of Life" by Os Guinness. It wasn't the title that caught my eye but the author, he wrote another book I had to read at seminary. I'm rather picky in the Christian books I read now, thanks to my proffessors for that, for too many authors take the evangelical-go save the world for Christ-boxed and packaged Christianity point of view. I like the ones that ask the questions, not give you the answers. This book is about the journey of searching, not necessarily the meaning of the journey itself.

For some time now, I have called this music "the deeper real", a term I came up with to describe something hard to see but intimately felt. It's what raises me out of bed every morning and sings me to sleep every night. The deeper real is what lifts my heart through sometimes difficult days. Yesterday while I was driving home I realized how much I miss talking about God with other people. You would think someone who speaks and (really needs to) write about Him/Her, would get enough of it but I realized I really don't. At seminary, I was surrounded by people who loved to talk about such things and we did it a lot. They were people who also heard and felt the deeper real and we shared that between us. Thinking about it, I realized there was few places in my life that talked about God, even in churches. So often in churches we talk about everything outflowing from God, peace, justice, the earth, simplicity, but we don't talk about our relationship with God Himself/Herself. I grew up in a church where we talked about such things, shared it with each other. And through all the faults that church had, I am deeply grateful they encouraged me to be real with God, to put our relationship first and let everything follow after that. If we are taking that "long journey home" as the book says, I sure want to know who I'm going home to.

Lately in my life I have been restless, whether something is moving or coming, or just changing I cannot tell, but I am making choices. I have the courage to make decisions and to do something about things I have been unhappy about, from large to small. I think finding a way to commune with others and the deeper real will be one of these changes. I am thirsty and need to find something to drink.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Look at Yourself Through Heaven's Eyes

Tonight's talk on community went really well. So well in fact, that they want me to come back and talk again. For not feeling terribly prepared, God really impressed me on this one. I spoke from my heart, engaged the kids, and found a commonality. (How bad North Salem High School's football team was and still is.) I was nervous but also confident, an odd combination. It's funny, I'm getting used to talking in front of groups, used to the rhythm of it. My preaching professor taught me if you can keep the kids in the group interested, you got them all. I had junior highers to adults at this and they were all with me, it felt good to know I can really do what I've wanted. It's like breaking through the water to the air at last. This last week, God has been reminded me often of a song and a truth I need to remember. I found it on youtube so I could post it on here for you. Listen to the words. They are important ones to remember, as God keeps telling me.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Community Part 2

These are the questions I'm going to ask.
  • What do you think of when you hear "community"?
  • Describe a good community.
  • What does it take to build community?
  • How can it be hard to be in community?
  • Why do you think God created us to be in community?
  • In your own words, what is Paul saying in Romans 12? (Verse will be read.)

I wrote the below paragraph as a part of my paper for the Quaker Women's Theology Conference. I think it is very applicable here.

To form community we as individuals and as a group have to stop drawing lines in our hearts of who is wrong and who is right. Whether that line is drawn around issues of age, gender, socio-economic status, sexuality, race, religion, personality, or ability, it doesn’t matter. For until we stop drawing lines in our hearts of us and them, we will never fully trust each other. While any lines exist, there will always be something we could become where we will no longer be accepted in our community, and fear of one line of non-acceptance breeds fear of many. The question of lines will always be in the back of everyone’s minds whether they are the ones who drew the lines or discovered them. We are all human with faults and foibles, how can we judge the life of another? How can we tell them they are wrong when we ourselves have such a limited view of what is right? When we let go of these judgments, an amazing thing then happens: we feel released, free to be ourselves. Without a fear of being rejected for who we are, without those lines where we could cross into condemnation, we can let ourselves be honest and vulnerable in community.

Now I just need a good ice breaker. Any ideas?


Community Part 1

So I'm at it again. I'm speaking tomorrow to a group of 40-50 junior highers and high schoolers from two churches. Talk about Daniel facing the lions. Subject? Romans 12, Community, more or less. I could also easily revamp and respeak my will of God talk, which I may do yet. It would fit for the high schoolers but I'm not so sure about the junior highers. Finding the will of God for their lives isn't exactly what I think is on their minds.

I'm not sure what to say. The church I go to has a high value on acceptance no matter who you are. I got teased a lot when I was in junior high and high school so that is something I also value. Todd, the pastor, told me questions work well. I like the idea of making this more into a discussion than a talk, a guided forum if you will. So the trick is finding questions junior highers and high schoolers will respond to instead of looking at me with a blank face. My preaching professor taught me to find the one point you want them to take away and then build on that.

The point I want them to take away is unity in diversity, that our differences is what can make us a community.

My wallpaper on my laptop is a great example. It's a photo of ten people, including me at Haw River State Park in North Carolina. What you can't easily tell from the photo is we come from five different countries, four continents and nearly all of us had never met before. But there we were, flown in from all over the world to start work on a project that would unite us for several years. How well the project comes out depends partly on well we got along together, then and in the future. Besides country, we also had differences of culture, language, gender, family, and personalities. Though we all spoke English, we often had to stop and explain the meaning of a word or phrase we were used to using in one country that someone else didn't understand. I and many of the other members of this group were also a little nervous about meeting as we later confessed to one another for we were a little intimidated by each others bio's. But that soon disapeared as we laughed, enjoying each others company, and found a common passion for writing and encouraging the voices of young adults all around the world. Our gifts and talents complimented each other, we each were a piece of the larger picture and we came to appreciate our unity in diversity. I am hoping the book we're producing will be an expression of what we found together, that voices seas apart can be different, perhaps in agreement, perhaps with opposing views, but that they can come together and find strength in their diversity to speak to those who need to hear and be encouraged.

My own church is based on the idea of unity in diversity, that diversity can be a gift to build up and be a light of God's love beautifully illustrated here on earth including all our faults and gifts. We as a group, are about as different as the editorial board. We span the spectrum of culture, economic status, education, gender, background, health, sexuality, age, and theology. By all reckoning and most people's judgement, this should not work. We should not be able to sit down Sunday after Sunday together and worship God. But I have learned through this group that our difference don't have to divide us but can instead bring us what we're missing in our need to live a fuller life. Our Faith and Practice, what we believe and what we do, is what we call our campfire, as individuals, we don't all agree on it but we do agree to sit around it, some people sit farther away, some people sit closer, and certainly we are on all sides. I think the thing that does unite is our belief that whatever theological hairs we split doesn't really matter. We can no sooner have a perfect theology than we can count the stars in the sky. So what does it really matter? We may not all be walking the exact same path but we are walking together.

More when I get bacl from tap class...

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Give to the Quaker Youth Book Project

(For those of you who don't know, I am an Editorial Board member for the Quaker Youth Book Project. This letter is from our Project Coordinator, Angelina, and is being distributed to Quakers around the world.)

Dear Friends,
We're excited to announce that it is now possible to donate to the Quaker Youth Book Project online! Go to the website to make a donation now: www.quakeryouth.org/quipbook

Over the past several months we've told you the story of the Quaker Youth Book Project and outlined the many ways Friends of all ages can be involved:

1. Friends 15-35 can submit their creative nonfiction writing and visual art by February 28th, 2009.
2. We continue to recruit Friends to help with translation, since we've committed to publishing the book in both English and Spanish in a single volume.
3. Friends everywhere can help to spread the work of the Youth Book to Friends in their church, meeting, yearly meeting or geographic region, and encourage teenage and young adult Friends they know to submit their creative work
4. We're continue to organize writing and art workshops, and are partnering with Friends who want to organize or attend them in their area. E-mail quipyouthbook@gmail.com if you want to be involved. Now's the time.

We know that these are difficult economic times for many. And while we are striving to raise a specific amount by April 2009 to match the $10,000 grant given by the Tyson Memorial Fund, we are also seeking the broad participation and support of many individual Friends, meetings, and churches.

Gifts of any size are welcome and appreciated. Each gift lets us know about one more Friend, meeting or church that is invested in and excited about the Quaker Youth Book Project and the international, cross-branch anthology it will produce.

We are using PayPal, a secure online service, to accept donations online. Donations can be made using a PayPal account, credit card or debit card. You do not have to have a PayPal account to use this service. Donations are tax deductible in the United States.

Go to www.quakeryouth.org/quipbook to make a donation in dollars or pounds.

Thank you again for spiritual, logistical, financial and emotional support. We could not do it without you.

Angelina Conti
Project Coordinator
on behalf of the Editorial Board

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations Mr. President!

I am SOOO excited. I feel like we have broken though something that has been a heavy binding on our country, as if something has been released and something many didn't think would happened, has happened. I am looking forward to his younger, fresher perspective. (Yes, I am one of THOSE young adults the news keeps talking about who finally feels someone is in power who will listen to us.)

It's not very often I remember exactly what I was doing eight years ago on a certain day but eight years ago today, I was gathered in the "nap room" at the Memorial Union at OSU with many, many other students all glued to the televisions they had set up when the election went back and forth all night. Four years ago I don't remember what I was doing on election night but the next morning I met my friend down at the Coffee House for morning coffee. Devastation would be an appropriate word for the atmosphere.

Tonight I got home just in time to hear President-Elect Obama's acceptance speech. (I had been listening to the radio much of the day.) What really pulled at me was afterward when the Biden and Obama families joined Obama and Joe Biden on stage. It struck me how these two families were intermingled in front of America. They each had their moms, siblings, wives, children, and grandchildren, black and white. I think that was one of the most beautiful pictures from this election. All men ARE created equal. This election may have finally got me interested in keeping up better with political news. We shall see. Congratulations!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Addicted!

Everybody should have a place where they know your name and are glad to see you (in addition to the blood suckers club who call me every eight weeks). Everyone should have someplace to go for a good talk or a good laugh or both. If you would have told me two years ago I would find such a place at my local tattoo parlor, I would have thought you were nuts. I had never been inside one and didn't particularly plan on doing so for no reason in the near future. But it's strange how when you have a face to something, your idea about it completely changes. So now you can usually find me at least some point in the week dropping by Addictions just to hang out.

So last week I needed some photos I didn't have, people at work. So I e-mailed Emily and she graciously let me come and take photos over two afternoons this last weekend at her shop. I really enjoyed the time, it reminded me of job shadowing except she was pointedly ignoring me. She likes being behind a lens far better than being in front of it. But I loved it. Here are some of my favorite photos. I'm going to play with them some more but thought I would post several for your enjoyment. (And my own!)

Thank you Emily, the staff at Addictions, and the great clients for letting me share your day! You know I'll see you soon!

Happy Tappy Halloween

I can't let Halloween go without posting a few pictures from our tap dancing class. The three of us who came to class on Tuesday decided to go as Stacey's fan club. We had so much fun! I'm still deciding which Stacey liked better, our costumes or the honorary pink wig we gave her that night. She was utterly DELIGHTED with both!

Happy Halloween!

For Halloween my roommate invited me to go on a photo scavenger hunt with her young adult group from church. It sounded like fun, I sometimes join the group for fun activities, so she picked me up after I gave dollar bills to the only trick or treaters we've ever had, (I wasn't about to buy candy for nobody), and we headed out. The list had all kinds of things on it. You had to take a picture of someone with a unique costume, your team on an escalator, trick or treating someone from church, fun stuff like that. Here a few pictures of the evening.

This is us in front of the escalator at the mall. My costume is from one of our tap dancing shows!

We made a pyramid . I felt a little sorry for Katie and Samantha, just a little.

This is one of my favorites. We had to take a pictue of someone from our team being scared. We figured a $118 pair of goloshs at Nordstroms would do the trick for Katie. We were right!

This is us in a phone booth. There just aren't many around anymore. Samantha is on the phone.

We had to trick or treat someone from church so we stopped by my pastor Peggy's house and she gave us candy. We scored extra points with the judges because she played spooky tunes on her pipe organ for us.