Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Search of Faith....

There’s been a lot of talk about faith and religion in the last few days. In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right provided in the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Thomas Jefferson.  But it seems to me that we have become less tolerant of our religious differences than ever.

A plan to build a Muslim community center which includes a small mosque within two blocks of  9/11 Ground Zero has met with an intensifying groundswell of opposition from rightwing pundits and politicians.

At the recent rally, talk-show host Glenn Beck held at the Lincoln Memorial, he said what was originally going to be a political rally, was now a religious rally.  He claimed that God spoke to him and that the next "40 days and 40 nights" will see a profound spiritual shift in our lives.

There is widespread, and growing, confusion about President Barack Obama's religious affiliation. A national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that one in five Americans now believe (incorrectly) that he is a Muslim. The White House issued this statement in response to the results of that poll:
"President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life. He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The President's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on everyday."
"The poll's findings are not surprising given the scope of the issues we are focused on-a recovering economy, bringing troops home from Iraq, putting healthcare and financial reform implementation in place. The President's strong Christian faith is what guides him through these challenges but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve."

The holy wars of the Middle East have been going on forever.  In the 70s, with President Jimmy Carter’s Peace Accord which won him the Nobel Price, it looked like maybe things would get better.  But that is certainly not the case today.

My friend Jennifer felt compelled to post this on facebook:  "As a Christian, I really feel the need to share this verse: 'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me---watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.' - Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message translation)
In light of all the folks who like to create "spectacles" in the name of God, I feel saddened by what Christianity means to many people. I do not believe that God wants all that production and animosity. Mother Theresa was once asked how someone might pray for her, she responded by asking that person to pray that she would not get in the way of what God wanted to do. I feel the same way. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people like to bask in the spotlight."

My friend Kevin did his first ever blog: a pilgrim's posts  The whole thing deserves to be read, but here is a tiny portion of it:
 "God hates religion. Yep, he does. Religion can be defined as:
1: the service and worship of God or the supernatural, or commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3: scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith   
For a MUCH better definition listen to God in the book of Amos 5:21-24 (The Message):   
'I can't stand your religious meetings. 
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.' 
This writing was directed at the posers of the day, those folks who loved to be noticed but didn't really carry the stigmata on their hearts. These were people who had all the appearances of holiness. They were important, puffed up with pride, with a need to set boundaries between people, who is in, who is out, etc. In other words, they were us.   
I would add that God wants more than justice and fairness. God seeks us."

From his holiness the Dali Lama:  "We can't say that all religions are the same, different religions have different views and fundamental differences. But it does not matter, as all religions are meant to help in bringing about a better world with better and happier human beings. On this level, I think that through different philosophical explanations and approaches, all religions have the same goal and the same potential".

"The gates of hell will open," Glenn Beck calmly predicted at his rally.  Is he claiming the apocalypse is upon us?  He could be right if we can’t find the true meaning of faith for ourselves, stop blindly following the fear mongerers, become compassionate for each other regardless of our religious affiliations, and get religion back out of politics as our forefathers suggested.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This friday moment.....

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, join in over at Soule Mama

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bullying and Being Mean

Wikipedia defines Bullying as "an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.  Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate.  Further studies have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying. Research on the self-esteem of bullies has proven that while some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic, others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others.  The abuser him/herself feels empowered."

We all know about the problems of bullying and kids.  It's an important enough topic that even the government has a website dedicated to helping us stop bullying now.  

We teach our kids the basic guidelines to defend against such actions:  
Ignore the bully and walk away.
Hold the anger
Don't get physical
Practice confidence
Take charge of your life
Talk about it
Find your (true) friends

This is all good, but I'm amazed at how many adults are caught up in the drama of bullying as well.  We need to follow our own advice when we are faced with uncomfortable situations.  The "mean" people of the world are not going to change, but if we can somehow keep from letting their comments and actions get to us, we can spoil their fun.

My advice, my friends, for what it is worth....is to always try to take the high road.  Don't listen to their mean-spirited words.  Be a nice person even if they are not.  It's one of the first lessons we teach our kids:  treat someone the way you want to be treated.  I know....I hear the groans.....this is not easy....but it is the best course of action.  Afterall, we are the adults here, aren't we? 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Grass Is Always Greener...

The old saying is that the grass is always greener on the other side.  Maybe the problem is that we're not really seeing what's on our side.  Throughout our lives we compare ourselves to everyone else.  So often, it seems "they" have a nicer house, nicer car, more perfect children, etc.  Well, here are some of the lessons I've learned along the way.

A nicer house.  I remember growing up when one friend of mine always wanted to hang out at my house.  I couldn't understand that since she had a really nice, big, fancy house.  That was until I went to visit her.  I found out that she wasn't allowed in the living room at all.  Her dog couldn't sleep on her bed with her like mine.  In fact, her dog was only allowed in the family room.  Otherwise he was outside all the time all by himself.  Her mom yelled at her if her room was messy. So her house was definitely not better than mine, only bigger.

A nicer car.  My car gets me where I'm going and has good gas mileage to boot.  It is getting older so I don't know how long before I will have to replace it, but I doubt I'd get much fancier even if I had extra money to do it.  I don't need to spend extra money on insurance and gas either.  And I certainly don't need to panic over every little ding or scratch I might get in a parking lot.  Nor do I need to be concerned with someone wanting to steal my car.  I like my car.  It's cute and efficient.  What more do I need?

More perfect children.  We always want our kids to put their best foot forward when around others.  It's nice to be proud of our kids, but why can't we be happy with just who they are?  When my kids were growing up, I figured out that the other parents only told me the "good" stuff about their kids.  Everyone wanted to be the perfect parent and mold the perfect child.  It wasn't until I had a second child that I began to realize that kids have certain personalities and traits no matter what you do.  Oh, good parenting will bring out the best in a child, but no amount of parenting will shape a child into something they are not.  Just love them.  That's the best thing you can do for them and for you.  Love them.  Accept them. Enjoy them.  Support them.

This is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge at ">Steady Mom  

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It's the first of the month, so you get to see assorted quilting blogs.  I am doing several things that are monthly right now.  This is step 2 of the Stay At Home Robin from Kate's Quilting and Other Fiber Arts Blog

Step 2 was to add a 4x6 inch piece onto the left or right of our original 6x6 inch piece.  Well, I have known that I was not completely satisfied with my original square, but I've been waiting for step 2 to figure out what I wanted to do with it.  I think I worked it out quite well.  I took my original square apart and realigned the "stem" pieces and then I cut it down to be the 4x6 inch piece.  I did some little triangles to make the 6x6 piece.  This did a couple of things that I really liked.  First of all, my original "stained glass" design is a little more exact.  I haven't really dealt much with tiny pieces like that before.  Secondly, it moved the "stained glass" piece away from what will be the edge of the quilt.  I think I like its placement much better now.  I like the prairie prints in my triangles and I have a few left over that may find their way into the quilt someplace else down the line. Who knows?

Now it's back to the waiting game, which is so hard when I'm excited about the project where it is right now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name....

When I took my first quilting class, I learned about precision cutting and lining up the little points exactly.  There are fabulous traditional quilters out there who can do that.  I just cannot.  I suppose it's a matter of patience more than anything else.  I want to see the pattern come to life, and quite frankly, most people don't notice whether the corners are lined up exactly point to point.

Thanks to Block Lotto, I recently discovered the creative fun of "liberated" quilting.  Some call it "rule-breaking" quilting. In this type of quilting there is no exact pattern, but rather an idea of how you are going to sew your pieces together.  It's fun, but also challenging.  It's not so easy to throw pieces together.I don't want to end up with a mish-mash, but rather a well-balanced design.  I am definitely enjoying the process though.

These are two of my "roses" for the August Block Lotto. As those of you who know me, you'll figure I'm not perfectly satisfied with them.  In fact, I have reworked these blocks a couple of times, but I think they are okay.  I definitely will attempt some more.  I think I get a better idea of how to arrange the pieces to make it work with each rose I do.

And just so you know that I haven't completely gone off to the wild side of quilting, I'm also working on a very traditional sampler as a welcome wall hanging.  There's room in this world, and my life,  for all kinds of ideas.