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04 May 2015 @ 05:15 pm
There is this young lady and her mother who follow @Rainbow_Ark on Twitter, and she just completed one of her beautiful creations that I wanted to share first with all of you...

Just a bit more about her: She had kind of a tough time as a young child due to a very serious medical condition. Through lots of procedures and some kindness shown during a concert with Donnie Wahlberg, she is full of life and appreciation today. If you're on Twitter, I recommend that you follow her and her mom, because they will brighten your day: @LittleBear_1985 and @_Luisa34_

Thank you, Sweetest! this means a lot to me. :D
26 April 2015 @ 03:47 pm
WASHINGTON — Becoming a father was a prime motivator for Randy Berry to accept what's sure to be a controversial new role at the State Department.

Berry, 50, is the U.S. special envoy for the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, the first such post ever created by a nation, according to the State Department.

In that trail-blazing role, he said he has an opportunity to help his two children grow up in a world more accepting than the one he was born into.

As someone who has "walked the personal journey of coming out," Berry said he knows how critical positive messages and support are to a U.S. and global LGBT community plagued by young suicides.

"Our children may be straight, they may be gay, I really couldn't care less, but I do want them to be happy," Berry said in an interview with USA TODAY. "They're likely to grow up in international environments, so I'm interested in working this in a broader space."

It's not going to be easy.

Secretary of State John Kerry has instructed Berry to coordinate the State Department's internal policies on LGBT employees and the department's programs and policies regarding the rights of LGBT people in other countries, by working with governments, civil society and the business community.

...But Berry has no illusions that his message will be received warmly in all circles. "Clearly not everyone is going to agree with the position we are taking," he said.

The whole story on USAToday
15 April 2015 @ 10:19 am
I've been dealing with a lot of things recently, but this morning after an early tire rotation appointment, I put on some classic Earth, Wind and Fire for the last half of the journey to work, and I arrived feeling great! :D

They have Mom's deal figured out. It was her irregular heart rhythm that was making her revert to spells of weakness in the same areas damaged by the stroke. They now have that controlled by medication and she's going full-tilt into therapy, and doing well. After just a couple more weeks, she'll be able to go home, likely with all the capabilities and mobility she had before the stroke. Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. That means a lot!

How are others doing on this humpday!
The Living Last Supper performance at my church Easter 2015

03 April 2015 @ 12:39 pm
I hadn't announced it far and wide, but a few of you knew from my personal lj.

My Mom had another stroke on Wednesday. It's her same right side as before with the one that happened at Thanksgiving last year.

Her strength didn't come back as quickly as before which with that first time, was nothing short of a miracle.

This time, it was a wait and see, and they just didn't know and Dad didn't know what the future looked like.

I can now report that the doctors studied her new CT and they're encouraged. One even said that it was his opinion that she'd get back everything that she had before with the proper therapy. She has strong grip in her hand, and is able to bend her leg at the knee and hip. Walking will come with therapy which starts today. It might be awhile, but knowing her, it will come.

Thank you to those of you who prayed and sent your virtual hugs and thoughts.

I hope everyone has a blessed weekend with the individual ways you celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones. :)
29 March 2015 @ 01:37 pm
I've been having something brewing inside of me to share here since yesterday when I saw a graphic tweeted which was supposedly a quote from the Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence:

'We in Indiana are following the message of scripture. Jesus would never have welcomed a sinner into His workplace.'

To be honest, I cannot confirm if this was an actual quote, or if it's slightly paraphrased, or if it's totally contrived like so many banners which can be found on Twitter which are made by people, both scrupulously and unscrupulously day in and day out, that if we're not careful, become wrongfully attributed to the individual, and needlessly inflame an already worrisome situation. The quote is often later debunked, which has the unfortunate side-effect of discrediting any and all protest to what can only be described as an odious law, of incalculable proportions.

But assuming for a second that it might be an actual quote, how many different ways of wrong are present here?

First of all, being gay does not presuppose immorality or being a sinner. There are both moral and immoral people who are either gay or straight. How couples express their love to one another does not speak of their morality.

Secondly, if one is to follow scripture as this quote suggests we should, it teaches that we are all basically sinners saved by grace. To say that Jesus never welcomed sinners is to ignore His entire ministry when it's well-documented He spent copious amounts of time eating with and associating with prostitutes, publicans, tax-collectors, and all the rest of the variety of citizens widely referred to as sinners.

Thirdly, the quote, and even the very name of the bill which was signed into law seems to suggest a divide between gay people and Christians, or using the more universal term, religious people, as if the two are mutually exclusive, as if the two cannot exist at the same time. But many people are both gay are Christian. Many of us right here are both gay and religious. How is religious freedom restored to the gay religious person when they can now be lawfully turned away from any business in the state of Indiana? How is this not an infringement on the rights of a would-be customer?

Fourth, who decides who the gay people are who come through the front door? Are there going to be state-funded gay detectors installed? Do the gay people all wear pink triangles? Two women walk into a restaurant together. They might be sisters or next door neighbors or life-long friends who haven't seen each other for awhile, but you the restaurant owner decide they must be lesbians, and so you tell them to leave your establishment. What kind of act of religious freedom is being fulfilled in this instance?

There was a call-in "Christian" to a talk radio show who is a restaurant owner and he expressed how excited he was that he finally had the law on his side to be able to refuse service to gays and lesbians. How sick is that?

The KKK claim Christianity too, and so what if it's an affront to their religious freedom to cater to blacks or Jews?

Governor Pence--and I speak now for what is documented you have said--how can your faith be so fragile, your god so easily offended that you will turn away your kindness from those who aren't precisely like your sexual orientation? Governor, how can your love for your fellow man be so conditional? Did the Jesus you talk about only die for some of your sins, or did He give His all? Are you living under grace or are you going to make it to heaven based on your own deeds? Are you sinless? If you believe in some form of 'great commission' how does your actions help to show God's love to others? How can continually creating divisions in classes of people result in anything other than to force your version of Christianity upon everyone else, and how is this in any way, religious freedom?

I was pleased this morning to find that Xedrik, the other maintainer coonie on the opposite coast also had these issues weighing on his heart that he needed to share, by his RA Facebook entry this morning--an open letter, as if from Jesus to the State of Indiana--let it be read far and wide:

The Letter

Also, please go to our Facebook and "like" us, if you do:
20 March 2015 @ 10:32 pm
I was recently talking with my mom and she noted how this year would be the first she's not making "Easter baskets" for anyone. Most of us kids moved out and my parents don't live nearby other family. So, my mom's not doing this sort of thing this year. With all of the moving my family's made over the years, the only traditions with various holidays that endured were those that could be moved with us. While it struck me as somewhat sad this tradition would, too, be fading, life requires we adapt. And so, my mother is doing just that.

In reflection, I've adapted, too. For a while, I did little with Easter. Last year, however, I went hiking for Easter. I figured what better way to celebrate the true meaning behind this holiday than to be out in God's country? Experience sunshine and the rebirth that surrounds when one steps into a forest during the spring? It was truly magical. Along a frenetic riverbank where flood waters cleared the brush, tall trees stood like columns and pillars arching upwards to form gentle canopies. Sunlight filtered through the garish yellow-green leaves, seeming brighter and warmer than even during the height of summer. It was there, I had my Easter - exploring a natural cathedral. No sermon. No song. Just me, my love, and nature.

I'd like to do that again this year. Thanks to my employer giving us time off for Good Friday, I'll apt be able to do so if my bf's schedule allows and if the weather's good 'nuff. Maybe this will become my new tradition for the holiday? It's a gentle, personal communion that I appreciate much.

So, what will you be doing? :-)
Current Mood: calmcalm
20 March 2015 @ 12:06 pm
I can't remember if I've ever shared this, but it just sounded so good to me on the way to work today...

There's piece in the news about the meaning of it all
And the things that we do to the world, makes me wonder
I've been wondering too
Out of sight out of mind, I won't think of it again
It don't matter to me, but they say, we're in danger
What more can I do?
If no one can stop the seasons turning, or the rain from falling down
Will my conscience keep on calling, going round and around
Till a way is found?

Make all the people who understand why
Take all the people who don't want to try
And the dreamers too blind that they don't see
All the tears of the world there could be
When we're crying over nothing, nothing at all.

There's a man on the street telling me I must believe
it's no joke, no joke anymore, and I feel I'm a stranger
Turning to You
If nothing can stop the sun from rising, if no one can turn night into day
Then it's really not surprising that I hear You say,
Gotta find a way

To make all the people who understand why
Take all the people who don't want to try
And the dreamers too blind that they don't see
All the tears of the world there could be
When we're crying over nothing, nothing at all.

I'm just one little voice, wouldn't even notice me
If I shouted my name, all you'd hear is a whisper
There's so many problems

Make all the people who understand why
Take all the people who don't want to try
And the dreamers too blind that they don't see
All the tears of the world there could be
When we're crying over nothing...
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08 March 2015 @ 10:48 am
Excitement is in the air. Momentum toward marriage equality nationwide will now carry us all to that inevitability and quickly. And this, largely without the help of the Church being on board.

But even at a time when young Evangelicals are pushing for full inclusion of LGBT Christians, there is also a Christian lawyer proposing a bill to execute gays. In between, we have a vast number of Christians who are uneasy about LGBT people, but will at least pray for their deliverance, as if being gay and Christian are forever incompatible with each other. They might think you're going to Hell, but they want to prevent you from going if they can.

I know some people complain about the structure of the Catholic church and how stodgy and unmoving it can be, but I find that the rest of Christendom when viewed together is often devoid of any structure at all when it comes to the vast array of responses to life's most pressing questions. How did we get here? I know that some would roll their eyes and say, "Denominations, you twit," and of course they'd be right, to a point. Different would-be preachers read the same scripture, colored through their own understanding of life, morality, and where they see the balance of law and grace, and if they look around and don't see an example of it, they start a church of their own and begin recruiting followers.

Some are nicely called denominations and some are referred to as cults. Some seem to produce what the Bible describes as good fruit, and some lead to a tragic end, but it's the Bible at the center of it. The Bible is the book of the WBC and the Methodists, the KKK and the Presbyterians, Church of God and the Branch Davidians. But even with all these different responses to scripture, a precious few of them practice what we'd call inclusion toward people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Being LGBT and being Christian are still widely viewed as mutually exclusive within traditional Christian circles. They don't believe you can be both--that one disallows the other. Matthew Vines, Rachel Held Evans, David Gushee and others have been chipping away slowly at this wall between the two. Other religions and faiths also have this seemingly impenetrable divide with others working to break down their wall.

Of course there are many on both sides saying, 'What's the point? Let's say you achieve some type of pseudo-unity and understanding. What assurances do we have that our team is going to resemble anything like we are now when we arrive?'
'Why work so hard to assimilate or to seek acceptance from a side that now hates us?'

These are not flippant questions by any means. Things could get a lot more violent before they get better. Is it worth it?
04 March 2015 @ 11:35 am
I just discovered today that is closing after 18 years. Many of you remember that's where we've received our Sunday messages for so many years. This is one of the last features of theirs from author Rev. Vera Bourne

I’d like to take you on a time journey back to the days when we lived in peace and harmony with all the animals, in a place that produced enough food for all. Now I’d like you to scan this world of ours mentally and assess the damage we have done to the animals, plants, oceans, rivers and to one another. What on earth went wrong? Why are we so far from living in an ideal society?

According to Genesis, God told Adam and Eve, everything was theirs to taste, touch and eat, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Parents are aware of the times they tell their offspring not to touch things. “Don’t touch the iron – it’s hot and you will be burned.” “Don’t play with matches, you could cause a fire.” “Don’t run across the road without making sure it is safe to do so.” And just how many times do we discover these same offspring do exactly what they have been told not to do.

To our children we spell out the consequences of wrong actions, as did God in this story of the Creation myth. God did not need to “see” Adam and Eve become ashamed of their bodies and cover them with fig-leaf loin cloths, for God was already aware of their actions. As parents we do not need to have eyes in the back of our heads to discover what our children have been up to. Slowly but surely the truth comes out in time, and sometimes the consequences are horrific. Children do run across busy roads and are struck by cars –becoming injured, killed or left with a lifetime trauma caused by the incident.

Genesis relates that Adam and Eve, as a consequence of their actions, were shut out of Eden, and their return was barred. No matter how much they wished they could turn back time, or how genuinely sorry they were for their actions, it was too late, the damage had been done.

The story we read in Genesis is the Judaic version of the Creation story. Across all nations, all countries and all periods of time we find interpretations of the process of creation. We humans need to know the answers to questions. Young children are always asking “Why?” of adults around them. As adults, from prehistoric times we have asked questions about the birth of our world, about the solar system, and the reason for the changing seasons. We have sought to know the secrets of tidal changes, volcanoes and other world phenomena. We have prayed to a variety of gods, and offered sacrifices on our altars to appease the gods in whom we believed. We may have gained knowledge, but in many instances we have lost our closeness to our creator.

Babies at about the age of nine months become acutely aware of the “us and them” situations. They are comfortable within their family atmosphere, but when strangers intrude they become frightened. They have begun to develop a sense of self. As they grow, and in fact throughout their lives, that sense of self becomes more developed, until at times it manifests as selfishness. Through adolescence young people constantly challenge the barriers parents and society place before them, and when these boundaries are crossed, these young people discover the consequences of their words and actions. At work, in team competitions, when the results are disputed, they fly off the handle.

Our civilizations have progressed over many tens of thousands of years. We are no longer innocent men and women who are able to return to Eden for we have changed so much from the souls God created that we no longer fit into that place. We have degraded this planet, littered space with junk, destroyed many species of bird and animal. We no longer know what it is to walk each evening with God. We may proudly say “Here am I, this is me,” but until we reconnect with the God of love, we are but shadows of the souls that we were created. We need, as did Jesus, to spend time each and every day reunited with God.