Category Archives: grace

healing after the ice storm


magnolia_leafSo mid week last week the temps had fallen into the mid-20s or so and with a mist of rain in the air during the night, ice formed on pretty much everything outside. Here are some pics from my backyard. My magnolia tree shouldn’t look like this in March.

On the drive to work that morning, I noticed a lot of tree branches had snapped and fallen during the night. Not sure if they were already dead branches or if the weight of the ice caused them to break or both but there was a trail of pretty big branches that started with a neighbor’s house a couple of houses down and just kept going almost all the way to work 15 miles away. It was strange. Some of those branches were pretty big and yet they snapped because of the heaviness.

magnolia_branchesSo all this happened on Tuesday and on Saturday I was finally able to help my neighbor out by cutting the really big tree limb that had fallen in her yard.

After cutting it, we talked for a while Continue reading

My UU church must change


I stumbled over a post by WordPress blogger Wondertwisted yesterday.
I thought of adding this comment to her post, “Dear John letter to UUism” but it began to run so long I figured I’d just use it as a post here for my readers as well.  Her post describes her painful decision to leave UUism and why. I think she is spot on.

***

You know, Cindy I thought of your post all day and much of this morning. And like I said in an earlier comment, I agree with what you say but what I’ve thought most of is the bigger question, that is: where has Unitarian Universalism failed you and others who feel like you do.

Full disclosure: I am a lay leader in my congregation and have been one of those who have side-stepped so many issues for fear of upsetting someone’s delicate sensitivities that I have not stood up against what I believe is a wrong direction for UUism in my congregation and as a whole.

I think there is a systemic problem with UUism.  Its current incarnation is flawed.  In my opinion, it comes down to at least these three things.

1) We have no dogma.  We have nothing that we all collectively say, “we believe  (this)  . And to be part of this religion you must believe    (this)   .”  Sure we have the seven principles but it is not the same as what the Abrahamic religions have in this regard.
Our lack of dogma is what we embrace and vocalize to the mountains, yet just as much as it is a medicine; it is also a poison.  We MUST change our mindset about not having a shared, common belief that we find so sacred that we would die for it, were it trampled or defamed.  If we do not, we are not bound. I believe there will eventually be a schism or at least a significant drop in membership and this faith will fade into nothingness.

2), We have placed social justice / political liberal activism above religion, worship and salvation. The tail is wagging the dog!
Because a person believes gay people should marry doesn’t mean they should be a UU. Because you believe people should earn a fair wage doesn’t mean you should be a UU.  The list could go on.
It should be the other way around. It should be I am a UU and because of that I believe   (this)   about   (this)   social/political issue.

3) We have no identity.  We don’t know what UUism or being a UU is. We have drifted so far from our roots and painted with such a broad stroke the idea of inclusiveness that we have muddied our identity to the point we can’t see who we should or used to be.
Calling the goddess, Buddhist singing bowls, washing of feet.
Really?  [insert eye roll here]
If that’s a personal practice and you feel it is important… that’s awesome. That’s great if it makes you a better person. Leave it at home though.
Spinning dradles or painting ourselves for Diwali is not a UU thing.  Fasting during Ramadan… not a UU thing.  Pick your favorite other-religion-ritual and place it here → [  ___  ]  It isn’t a UU thing.
Let’s be UUs in our sanctuary and leave the snake handling for home practice.

last minutes with Oden


I’m a member at Vimeo.com and get an update every day as to the newest vids.  This place is much different from YouTube in that the community is made up mostly of amateur, semi-pro and pro film makers. And these people are putting out some very amazing work.

To recognize those who stand out in this pool of film makers, this weekend organizers are holding the inaugural Vimeo Festival and Awards.

I learned of the documentary below through my vimeo daily update in December of ’09 (at least that’s when I first created this post and subsequently left it in the draft bin)

For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to post it. I don’t know why.  It reminds me a lot of how I felt about my little buddy who I had to let go of in May of 2002 though.  But I found out on NPR’s website today that “Last Minutes with Oden” is one of the top five finalists in the documentary category.

Be prepared to whip out the tissue while watching it.

more about “last minutes with Oden“, posted with vodpod

till living doesn’t feel like giving up


About twice a month, sometimes three or four times a month I have to travel to different municipal or state agencies to file things for clients of my company. And now and again I’ll go see a few of clients during the month.

As a result I see quite a bit of the city as I drive around. Probably not nearly as much as some outside sales people but more than your average guy stuck in an office.

So last week I was on my way back from the State Comptroller’s Office and I saw a guy on a corner holding a sign. There are so many people doing this. Unbelievable how many. And it’s sad that in our country people have had to resort to this to stay alive.

But for some I wonder if it really is their last option. I mean there’s a a young guy (mid to late 20′s) near my office who claims on his sign to be a Marine Corps veteran. I don’t know, maybe he is. There is a couple that looks to be in their mid-50′s who wheel their down syndrome daughter out to the side of the road with them asking for money. There is one woman I remember seeing who put on such a display of despair as motorists drove by I felt embarrassed for her because it seemed so fake.

Maybe I’m just too jaded or I don’t know… wary. But these three examples of people begging for subsistence seems like an act. And so last week, when I saw yet another guy, holding a sign, I didn’t think much of it but the light turned red and I had a chance to…

well to pay a little more attention.

I don’t know. Something about his posture. Something about him just made me think twice give in. So I rolled down my window and gave him a few dollars. When he came up to me I said, “hang in there brother. Hang in there.” He said, “I’m trying. I’m giving it all to God. God bless you young man. Thank you so much.”

In our exchange he seemed ashamed and I couldn’t tell if it was sweat or tears that lined his cheeks but I was moved.

I don’t know what his story is. I don’t know if he really is out of work, is mentally disturbed, a scam artist, an artist artist, or Jesus come down to judge us but this song by a local singer/songwrier was playing on my CD player as I sat at the red light and it made the whole scene… the whole interaction so much more real.  And I felt sorry for him. And I prayed a little prayer for him. And I had tears in my eyes, perhaps not only for him but myself as well.  I am thankful for grace of God, my good fortune and own determination that I am not in his place.

Music by Sara Van Buskirk
Find more of Sara’s music here

it wasn’t her time


The Deistette gave me a pretty bad scare about a week ago… a really big scare.

She almost died.

She has high blood pressure and on occasion her heart gets extremely elevated. She has meds for both but doesn’t take them on a regular basis for one, because she doesn’t have health insurance anymore and to get refills would cost money we don’t have.  And two… her blood pressure stays relatively ok half the time. So she takes them when she thinks she really needs them to bring either her BP or heart rate down should it get pretty high that day because she monitors her blood pressure and heart rate at least twice, if not three times a day.

Well, we were in a rush, we were hungry and trying to remember stuff to bring with us for errands to run later.  So she forgot about having taken her blood pressure medicine three hours earlier and after checking her heart rate, took the heart med that lowers it.  Not a good thing to do.

About an hour later Continue reading

what if the end was coming in 4 hours


I absolutely love Vimeo these days. On days when I eat lunch at my desk, I’ll look through the site to see if I can find a little gem in there. Found another one.

I stumbled over this movie short about a week ago. It’s interesting and poses the same question as most end-of-the-world films… what would you do? Who would you want to be with? What would you say?… if you knew it was the end.

It’s an interesting take and I find it funny, odd and sad how this couple spends their last remaining hours on earth.

Continue reading

claiming a faithful language


Lizard Eater is a blogger I stumble on now and again via the UU blog aggregator and she has a cool post about UUs claiming religious language. I was gonna leave a comment but it began running a little long and I’ve had this post brewing in my head for several weeks anyway. It’s as good a time as any to put it out there.

When I was in the military, the gunnery sergeant I worked for paid me a dubious compliment by nominating me for Marine of the Quarter. In doing so I had to go before a panel of senior Marines and let them grill me for a couple of days on various things.

There was a physical fitness test, room inspection, uniform inspection, drill command evaluation, Marine Corps history test and a leadership evaluation.

I remember one of the questions was on the 14 traits of Marine Corps leadership and which one I thought was the most important. I said I thought “initiative” was the most important because through initiative you put yourself in situations to exercise the other traits. Not sure if it was my hours of hand-polishing my old “chocolate bars” leather shoes or my answer to that question but I’m proud to say I won that board.

Anyway… in response to LE’s list of words she used in her sermon Continue reading

brother can you spare a dime?


Hello friendly blog peeps, peepettes and casual visitors.

Today’s post is asking for a HUGE favor.

If you look to the right… right next to the title of this post you’ll see a picture. If you click it, the link will take you to my page on the Lone Star Chapter of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website.

I’m writing about this because I want to let you know I’m riding my bicycle half way across Texas in an effort to raise funds for researchers to find a cure for MS. I’m riding in the 2009 MS 150 Bike Tour from Houston to Austin. It’s about 160 miles or so over two days.

I’m do it for two reasons. One… believe it or not, I find it fun and of course, challenging. (i’ve ridden this ride before) Two… I know I am extremely lucky to be able to move my body on my own and so I feel an obligation to help.

I want to help researchers find a cure for folks who don’t move so well because of this disease.

I’m no scientist. I don’t know much about this disease or what it will take to end it. But I can pedal my bike and ask people to donate to my ride so the smart guys can figure a way to help those who are afflicted with this disease.

So I hope you will.

I hope you can spare ten bucks… or five bucks… or three or even one.

I know five bucks or even one doesn’t seem like a lot but it all adds up.

When I was in the Marine Corps I learned a saying from the grunts… “ounces make pounds.” I first heard it when my unit attached with some grunts for training and we were going on a 13 mile hike carrying all our gear on our back.

A few of the guys took us “non-hackers” aside and said, “ounces make pounds, Marine. Let me see your gear.” They proceeded to show us how stripping every tiny piece of non-essential crap added up to a lot of weight.

“Ounces make pounds” folks. I know times are tough. Hell, I barely have two nickels to rub together but if you could donate whatever you can…

well, every little bit adds up to a lot.

me and the little man


A couple of posts ago I talked about how The Deistette‘s Little Man had the crud and I was the one who stayed home with him.

Well since The Deistette found a job just a few weeks ago, I’ve been (not completely) but for the most part, in charge of getting him out of bed and getting him ready to go to pre-school.

For you parents who have done this you know the drill… trying to get the child up out of bed. Going back and telling them again to get up. Taking the blankets off of said child. Yelling up the stairs to get up. Going back and again removing the blanket, this time, to outside the room. Five minutes later going back to take the blanket off and bringing it downstairs.

Getting breakfast. Trying to explain why the child can’t wear his bathing suit trunks, cowboy boots and a wife beater undershirt. Giving medicine for the cold contracted from being at the pre-school. Cleaning the child off because he spilled medicine down his chin and neck. Giving medicine again.

I’m sure you get the idea. Every little movement… every little instance in trying to get ready is an extremely complex evolution that requires tremendous forethought and logistics.

So the reason for the forethought and logistics is because he has to be somewhere while The Deistette and I are at work.

So Emmie found a great little school for him to go to but the problem is it’s so far away. We figure, “hey it’s pretty cheap. We can do this.” Turns out to be a fantastic school and really helps The Little Man catch up on where he should be with writing his name and letters and other pre-schooley things.

Well, we couldn’t do it. Turns out it wasn’t as cheap as we thought. The drive was killing both me and the boy and ultimately we had to change him to another place closer to our house.

It sucks. To put him in one we can afford means putting him in a sub-par facility. Don’t get me wrong we didn’t put him in a dungeon. It just isn’t the same as when he had a teacher that really worked with him.

I hate it. I feel responsible. If I could have just woken up earlier. Woken him up earlier. Discovered clever ways to make him have a “good” morning vice the screaming, crying, “i-don’t-want-to-go-to-school” mornings. Found a way to afford it. It just sucks.

The Little Man looks up to me. He really likes me and he often says, “hold my hand Julian” when we go to the store or when I’m walking him to his little pre-school, which is a pretty friggin’ cool feeling. But taking his hand comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility that I’m not sure I’m up to.

I’ve never thought as myself as a very good dad. Pretty sure I wasn’t the best dad to Little Fawn I could have been. The Little Man’s daddy lives up in the panhandle right now and because I’ve chosen to be with his mommy, I’ve got to step up and fill those shoes.

Hope I don’t let him or his mommy down.
the-deist-and-the-little-man
The Little Man and The Deist

an absence


I haven’t been around here in a while…  I’ve been absent.

I’ve been reading a little and making a comment now and again but I haven’t written in more than a month… close to six weeks or so now.

I’ve wanted to though. I’ve had quite a few things pop in my head to write about but I feel like unless I write about what happened in November and get it off my chest I just can’t post anything else.

I mean, when i started this blog I thought it would just be me reading this. I had no idea people would stumble on this and take a look and that I would find myself in a little community of people I  feel close to.  It didn’t even occur to me that I would find a community of writers who I look forward to reading about… you know, reading about their lives and that they would want to know what’s happening with me.

I was also hoping that maybe some day, my daughter would find this and read about me and maybe learn a little about her dad that I didn’t tell her when she was young.

Hi Little Fawn.  You out there reading this?   : )

Anyway…  so with my little blogging community of friends  and daughter in mind I feel compelled to write about what happened to me and The Deistette several weeks ago.

By the way, The Deistette is here, too.  Say hi Emilie.

Deistette:  hi everyone.

Deist: Sooooo…. what do you think, Emmie.  I guess we could start with a little synopsis and get everyone up to speed.

Deistette:  ok

Continue reading