Friday, December 30, 2011

To the Table

Why does one write about food on a church blog? I think it has to do with the fact that yes, we are what we eat and we are also what we think about and consume in terms of media and poetry and works of both fiction and non-fiction.  We must always consider food to be nourishing our souls as well as our bodies. 

Christ welcomes us to the "table", the table of Christianity, humanity and the cosmos - I do think that big! We are a part of this magnificent world and God calls us to not only care for it but to enjoy its riches like food and family and the natural world that so generously shares her bounty. As mothers, fathers and caretakers, we can bring our family to the table and talk about the larger human family Christ brings together.

So, here's another food blog- the smitten kitchen (love the name and the photos are fabulous - not to mention the recipes).  Let us not take these simple things for salted butter and the yellow of the egg; the smell of nutmeg tickling our noses; the magic of an oven at 450 degrees that brings out the sweetness of peppers and potatoes; and the rising of an apple cake that infuses the kitchen with such divine smells one becomes dizzy. Take time to make something for and with your children, your family and friends.  Bring them to the table....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back from Life......

Yes, it's been a long time since The Gathered Life has been updated.  Life happens. Motherhood doesn't stop nor does any life that has constant joys and challenges.  So, hello.  It's so good to be back.  Two books to consider in the New Year are The Message and The Voice.  Both are versions of the Bible written in simple everyday language.  They read like stories that everyone can understand not just the scholars. Check them out here and give us your opinion:

Peace to you in this time of great joy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

In Response to Tiger Mania

By Anne-Marie Slaughter – Special to CNN

Call it the rebellion of the mother of two adolescents against the Tiger Moms, but what this nation needs to be innovative and entrepreneurial is to ask our kids to do less.
Innovation requires creativity; entrepreneurship requires a willingness to break the rules. The jam packed, highly structured days of elite children are carefully calculated to create Ivy League-worthy resumes. They reinforce habits of discipline and conformity, programming remarkably well-rounded and often superb young people who can play near concert-quality violin, speak two languages, volunteer in their communities and get straight A’s.
These are the students that I see in my Princeton classes; I am often in awe of their accomplishments and teaching them is a joy. But I strongly suspect that they will not be the inventors of the next "new new thing".
Creativity requires a measure of random association and connection and substantial periods of down time, where the mind is allowed to run and turn over seemingly disconnected bits of information, images, and ideas. Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class (follow him on Twitter at @richard_florida), observes that “many researchers see creative thinking as a four-step process: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification or revision.”
Incubation is “the ‘mystical’ step,” one in which both the conscious mind and the subconscious mull over the problem in hard-to-define ways.” Hard to define, yes, but not hard to foster, as long as chunks of the day or the week are left open for relatively random activity: long walks, surfing the Internet, browsing a bookstore, household chores that don’t require too much thought, watching the birds at the birdfeeder and gazing out at the ocean.

you can read the rest of the article here.
What do you think?

Christian Century Post By the Rev

Century Blog

Losing trust

My sister Marie was reading the weekly e-mail update from her daughter's kindergarten teacher. Amid reminders about library day and an upcoming popsicle party, Mrs. R. noted that the class had visited a presentation by the fifth graders about 9/11 and the bin Laden compound. In an attached photo, my niece's kindergarten class stands smiling for the camera in front of a painted mural of the twin towers engulfed in flames.
In a second photo, the class is watching a scene on the elementary school stage. Fifth graders dressed in fatigues stand beneath an American flag, with their play guns all pointed at the same target: a child dressed as Osama bin Laden. He is slumped on the ground, his forehead streaked with fake blood.
My sister feels sick. She's been answering questions, questions that she wasn't prepared to answer for a daughter who wasn't prepared to know--not yet, and not this way. "She can't unlearn this," my sister lamented. "She can't unsee this."
I read my sister's e-mail and saw the photos just before leaving for church on Sunday. It was the day before Memorial Day, and themes of remembrance and honor were woven into the liturgy. We sang "This is my Song," that remarkable patriotic poem that remembers that skies are blue in other countries too. During the children's sermon, our seminary intern invited the veterans present to stand so that the children could lead the congregation in thanking them for their service. We prayed for peace in every nation.
As I closed my eyes to pray, I thought of the heartbreaking images of my niece juxtaposed against painted and playacted violence. She is fine, of course. My sister and her husband are finding the words to comfort her, and the fact that she is too young to understand serves as a shield against the enormity of the events depicted.
But my sister has lost trust in the school--a critical institution in her daughter's life, and one that can't be easily avoided. I can't imagine the grief I would experience if my church--the institution most central to my daughter's life--trespassed against inviolable boundaries.
I included in my prayer intercessions a class of kindergarteners in a small town in Pennsylvania and their fifth-grade friends. Then I gave thanks to God for the safety of the sanctuary.

Share your thoughts......Peace.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Craft Time

Summertime is here and I know all you moms (and dads) are looking for ways to entertain the kids. The Crafty Crow is an amazing resource for all things made with love. Have fun!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Family Time - June Events

Andersonville Midsommarfest: June 11-12, Maypole, artisans, family entertainment stage, great food

Old Town Art Fair: June 11-12, kids free under 12, music, art, food, kid activities

Wells Street Art Festival: June 11-12, art, food, music

City Wilds Festival of Backyard Biodiversity: June 11-12, learn about native plants, make nature crafts, hiking on 46 acre preserve. Free.
North Park Village Nature Center is located on the northwest side of Chicago and includes a forty-six acre nature preserve and also an educational facility. The Nature Center and preserve are situated within the North Park Village complex, a cluster of buildings located on approximately 155 acres of land.
The nature preserve features trails that wind through woodlands, wetlands, prairie and savannas. A discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects and interactive displays are highlights of the Nature Center. Programs offered include public programs for pre-schoolers, school age children, families and adults; an eco-explorers summer camp and outreach programs.
Open 7 Days a Week, 362 Days a Year!

Eco-Friendly Baby Books

If your babies get hungry for books like mine did, nibbling on corners or taking huge chunks out at a time, check out Chicago based Squishy Press that uses recycled paper, non-toxic glues and soy ink for their children's books. Here's to healthy reading!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Creation Care

Bag It Intro from Suzan Beraza on Vimeo.

Plastic Free! (or at least we can try!)
I just found this site called and there are some really good tips to living without plastic bags and packaging, bottles, get the idea.  It's our job to care for God's world. Let's teach our kids to do the same. One step at a time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reverend Pershey In Round Table Discussion

Listen to internet radio with CR Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Simple Living Podcasts and More!

Friday Morning book group read Organized Simplicity this year and many of us enjoyed Tsh Oxenreider's tips to simple living and loving life. I love a good podcast. Put your feet up and get inspired by Tsh and her podcast mates. Peace.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Someone to Read

"Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy."- Wendell Berry

WENDELL BERRY was born in Henry County, Kentucky, in 1934. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1956 and continued on to complete a master’s degree in 1957. In 1958, he received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

Berry has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, and Bucknell University. He taught at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky from 1964-77, and again from 1987-93.

The author of more than 40 works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Wendell Berry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1962), the Vachel Lindsay Prize from Poetry (1962), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1965), a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing (1971), the Emily Clark Balch Prize from The Virginia Quarterly Review (1974), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award (1987), a Lannan Foundation Award for Non-Fiction (1989), Membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers (1991), the Ingersoll Foundation's T. S. Eliot Award (1994), the John Hay Award (1997), the Lyndhurst Prize (1997), and the Aitken-Taylor Award for Poetry from The Sewanee Review (1998). His books include the novel Hannah Coulter (2004), the essay collections Citizenship Papers (2005) and The Way of Ignorance (2006), and Given: Poems (2005), all available from Counterpoint. Berry's latest works include The Mad Farmer Poems (2008) and Whitefoot (2009), which features illustrations by Davis Te Selle.
He lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.
taken from his website

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Community of Inquiry

Check out the British site Ekklesia.
You can sign up for their daily news. They describe themselves as:
Welcome to Ekklesia, the beliefs and values thinktank. We provide briefing, research, comment and analysis. We examine religion, politics, theology, culture and society.

What it means to be a community of inquiry: As a UCC community we honor the tradition of personal, social and theological reflection. We have a theology of curiosity and daring. Go forth and explore! peace.

Words for Your Children

"Three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind.
And the third is to be kind."   Henry James as quoted in Henry James: A Life

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Restoration Project

There is too much to say about Tracy Wispelwey. Singer, songwriter, theologian, peacemaker, visionary, sage....Wow. It is good this world has someone who writes about love and God in the way she does. Her new album Hold On to Love was just released this past April. You can check out more about her and her music at Be inspired!   Peace.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Words for You

"Our task is to help people concentrate on the real but often hidden event of God's active presence in their lives. Hence, the question is...not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence."-  Morton  Kelsey, from The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Attentive Love

Excerpt taken from the Center for Action and Contemplation:

Sara Ruddick in her book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace speaks of the attentive love of a mother. In summary, Ruddick says mothers are characterized by attentive love. They have to keep watching this new life; they have to keep listening and adjusting to the needs of the child. It is necessary to recognize a new agenda with the growth of the child. If the mother cannot transform herself into attentive love, she quite simply cannot be a mother. She has to learn early on that life is about change, not about theological absolutes. All growth is about changing and adjusting to what is needed at this moment by this child. The mother cannot run to abstract truths. She has to deal with this child, these tears, and this present moment with this child.

Part of Something Beautiful

This is a great video about this church's commitment to diversity. Maybe we should think about making one for First Congo. What do you think? Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Words for Your Children

"If you hate injustice, tyranny, lust and greed, hate these things in yourself."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Just something to consider in the wake of the world's news these days. Peace.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When You Have a Moment for You

check out this great blog the handmade home Reverend Pershey passed along. There are lots of fun links and some good advice from a very busy mom.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ida Pearle Mother - Child Prints

great for gifts or for your little one's room. find her work here.

Vacation Bible School

Many of you requested this link to the Western Springs Baptist Church Bible Study in June.  All of the information is online and you can register online too. 

Princess of Consumption?

Passage taken from Religious Dispatches article The Princess Bride: Royal Weddings for Everyone by Katy Shrout:

Unromantic as it may sound, this celebration of the transformative power of consumption seems to be part of the magic of the wedding day for many women. On this day I am more beautiful, elegant, and radiant than any other. On this day everything is perfect and lavish and matching. A real-life royal wedding, televised and celebrated by millions, represents and encapsulates this magic for those who eagerly watch and read about it.

It might be tempting for some—especially for anyone nostalgic for some mythic age of piety—to argue that the wedding-as-princess-pageant represents a secularization of the marriage rite. But the truth is that the celebration of consumption, the acting-out of the princess ritual, is its own expression of what has become sacred.

What do you think? Are weddings these days merely signs of a cult of consumption?

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Bring a mat and $10 and join us for Yoga from a Christian Perspective at 9:00 this coming Saturday, May 7, in Plymouth Hall. Bring a mat and $10.

Help!  Summer Sunday School Classes are offered every Sunday for three age groups - 4s & Fall Kindergarten, Fall 1st and 2nd Graders, and Fall 3rd-5th Graders. Pairs of teachers are needed for each class. Curriculum is provided for these 35-40 minute classes during the 9:30 service. Sign up with Jan F. or on the rolling boards in the light court.

The Annual PF (Plymouth Fellowship, our high school youth group) Golf Outing will take place on Saturday, May 14, at Flagg Creek Golf Course. There will be a 4:30 p.m. shotgun start for golfers of all ages and abilities. A 7:00 p.m. party will follow at the Western Springs Village Club. Send in your RSVPs now. The cost of each event is $50/person. Questions? Contact Mike Tilden.

All women of the church are invited to the 7:00 p.m. May 10 meeting of Dining for Women at the home of Rochelle Heinz (4537 Clausen, WS). This month's NGO is Mujeres Aliada, Mexico 2011 which offers health care and educational services to women and adolescent girls in the Lake P√°tzcuaro area of Mexico. Our donations will help reduce maternal and infant mortality by supporting professional midwives and equipment in the clinic. Rochelle would like six volunteers to help her start cooking the meal at 5:30.

Bagel Bite Picker Uppers are Needed! Sign up in the light court or give Linda a call at 708/246-1900, ext.216. It's easy just pick up the bagels Saturday at The Great American Bagel and get them to the church by the 9:00 service on Sunday.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Go See

A Perfect Soldier
Saturday April 30th @ 8:15pm
Gene Siskel Film Center
This moving documentary recounts the struggles of Aki Ra, a former soldier who has devoted his life to disarming mines in Cambodia, and is training others to do the same.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mother's Day in Style

Yes, we deserve this....

Give mom the day off by treating her to a very special brunch this Mother's Day at the Art Institute. Hosted in the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room and the Millennium Park Room, this masterpiece of a brunch includes a full buffet, an open Mimosa and Bloody Mary bar, live entertainment, and a leisurely afternoon visit to all of mom's favorite works of art. She deserves it! Cost is $60 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under. Seatings are at 11:00, 11:45, 12:00, and an additional seating at 12:30, due to popular demand. Reservations are required; call (312) 553-9675 to make yours today!

sky above clouds by georgia o'keefe at our very own art institute

Run and Read

For all of you mothers who are sustained by your books and running shoes here is a new blog you might enjoy:

Entering into the Unknown

I have never blogged. I have hardly even read other blogs. I am, in short, a complete novice! But here I go...... What do I hope to accomplish with this blog? My goal is to keep track of two passions that sustain and nourish me in my busy life as a mother of four kids ages nine and under -- running and reading. These solitary pursuits help me find my center. I have often wished that I kept a journal of the books I've read so I could look back and reflect (or at least have proof). Maybe this blog will serve as a sort of online book club with friends who share these same passions. Not so sure when I will find the time to write posts but today I choose to dive in and go for it. Every journey starts with a single step.

Our Faith

This is a very interesting interview. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In Service

Global Citizens Network gives families the opportunity to spend time together working in communities in need both in the United States and abroad. Here's a bit about them:


Mission: In partnership with people of diverse cultures, GCN promotes cross-cultural understanding and interconnectedness through authentic immersion experiences.

Vision: Global Citizens Network seeks to create a network of people committed to:

  • The shared values of peace, justice, respect, cross-cultural understanding and global cooperation;
  • The preservation of indigenous cultures, traditions and ecologies;
  • The enhancement of the quality of life around the world.

In their own words...

If you want to expose your children to other cultures in a way that is more real, in-depth, personable and memorable – by working in community with them rather than just traveling – this is the way to really learn about another culture. We were exposed to something few of us get to experience. Most often we simply drive through communities. This time we got to meet and really get to know people, and they were so generous. We got far more out of the experience than we gave.
Kathy P., Rock Point, AZ (family of 4)


One of the Friday morning moms posed the following questions to other mothers, to you all. We'd love to hear your ideas and questions as well. Please feel free to reply to her comments - respectfully. Blogging is great as long as we are kind to one another. This way we can get some dialogue going.

How are you encouraging your child to “sing their song” (from Parenting Like a Pro seminar)?

How do you define a “great” child?

How are you teaching respect to your children?

How do you cultivate your children (or husband!) to be a leader in your family?

I know the group came up with family value statements. Did you share them in the group? I would love to read some of them if people are open.


Happy Spring!!

Friday April 29th, we'll be discussing Chapters 6-14 of Marriage and Other Acts of Charity.

Also, we'll be sending an envelope around this Friday and next Friday to take a collection for our contribution to the PF Golf Tournament Fundraiser. Lisa M. is putting together a basket of Barefoot Books to be auctioned off.

In the Kitchen

Ok, I know we don't all love to cook but as mothers at some point in the day we do end up in front of the sink or stove or fridge and I think we deserve something special in this environment, a type of uniform we love to don.

click on image for site info.

Words for You

I am a huge fan of Friar Richard Rohr. He speaks with such passion and purity in words. I am always struck by his insight into our spiritual lives. You can find his meditations here at the Center for Action and Contemplation.
By denying their pain, avoiding the necessary falling, many have kept themselves from their own spiritual depths—and therefore have been kept from their own spiritual heights.  First-half-of-life religion is almost always about various types of purity codes or “thou shalt nots” to keep us up, clear, clean, and together, like good Boy and Girl Scouts.  A certain kind of “purity” and self-discipline is also “behovely,” at least for a while in the first half of life, as the Jewish Torah brilliantly presents....
Because none of us desire a downward path to growth through imperfection, seek it, or even suspect it, we have to get the message with the authority of a “divine revelation.”  So Jesus makes it into a central axiom:  the “last” really do have a head start in moving toward “first,” and those who spend too much time trying to be “first” will never get there.  Jesus says this clearly in several places and in numerous parables, although those of us still on the first journey just cannot hear this....
Our resistance to the message is so great that it could be called outright denial, even among sincere Christians.  The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling or changing or dying.  The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo, even when it is not working.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

At the Table

Who doesn't love apple cake? I just found this wonderful site for cakes and homemade meals called Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman's photos of her dishes are divine and the recipes sound amazing. Try them out and let us know how it goes.
Mom’s Apple Cake
6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Words for You

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even the
miserable and the crotchety-

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light-
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

mary oliver

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Good Friday and Earth Day!

In a seed is the potential of the universe. It represents new life. Today we honor our Lord and Savior in darkness but we march on toward the light of hope of Easter Sunday. New Life. Resurrection. Earth Day is also about new life and resurrection of God's Creation. What does it mean to you that these celebrations coincide this year?
Peace and Joy to you.

Here are some interesting posts on Good Friday and Earth Day you might want to check out:
10 Teachings on Judaism and the Environment
Crucified Creation and the Hope of Eco-nomics
Earth Day Facts: When It Is, How It Began, What to Do
Butterfly - One of God's Creations
9 Ways to Live Easter Everyday
11 Ways to Recreate the Earth
Local Chicago Green Store: GreenSky
9 Green Brains Tell Us What They'd Fix First
BAGGU - rainbow colored reusable bags!
Green Home Tips on Re-Nest

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mom Calling Cards

Sometimes moms need to be reminded that we are engaged in the official business of raising future generations. Truly what else could be more important than this vocation? I've always believed that moms need calling cards for play dates, setting up appointments, making new friends at the gym, the grocery store, the office, the library, the church. Have your card ready! It will save you time searching through your bag for a piece of paper and pen! Check these out from Most are quite inexpensive too. Click on the photos to be directed to the various sites.

Feeding Your Family

This recipe is suggested by Beth S. You can find it at Thanks!

Curried Squash & Chicken Soup
From EatingWell:  EatingWell Serves Two
Red Thai curry paste adds heat and depth of flavor to this simple soup. If you like, omit the chicken and spinach to make an even simpler first-course soup.
2 servings, 1 3/4 cups each | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 10-ounce package frozen pureed winter squash
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk, (see Tips for Two)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste, (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat squash, coconut milk and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash defrosts, about 10 minutes. Add chicken, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in spinach, lime juice, sugar, curry paste to taste and salt and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

Chocolate for Your Bunnies and You

Aunt Diana's Old Fashioned Chocolates in Riverside
29 East Burlington St, Riverside, IL

Amazing selection. Let me tell you a few of the choices: chocolate covered marshmallow rolled in graham crackers, chocolate dipped oranges, strawberries, apricots, pineapples, chocolate bunny lollipops, chocolate covered pretzels, caramels, cheese popcorn!! I could go on. The majority of the chocolates are made on site. You can't find this stuff in your local grocery store. Bring the kids for a treat!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Feeding Your Family

Susie O. shared this recipe with us from Thank you!

I doubled the sauce, decreased the butter a bit, and served over homeade fettucine. I used large scallops, so broiled them for 3 minutes on each side. Amazing!!!
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven broiler.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, mix the chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, shallot, and garlic. Cook and stir until most of the liquid has been reduced. Stir in the butter until melted.
  3. Brush the scallops with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet.
  4. Broil the scallops in the preheated oven about 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque. Serve with the wine sauce.

Holy Week at First Congo

Holy Week at First Congregational

Maundy Thursday, April 21
8:00 p.m. Tennebrae Service
You are invited to walk the Labyrinth in Plymouth Hall
following this service.

Good Friday, April 22
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Walking the Way of the CrossLabyrinth Walk in Plymouth Hall

Easter Sunday, April 24
8:00, 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. Worship
There will be no
Sunday School
are encouraged to attend worship with their parents.
There will be child care for the very young.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Words for Our Children

The point of being human is to get better (and better) at caritas, at agape, at love.

from Marriage and Other Acts of Charity - Kate Braestrup

Local Blog

Check out Sue Bidstrup's blog Great Big YES. It seeks to Inspire everyone to say YES to life! It is an invitation to share your faith, to grow and to live authentic lives full of meaning. Together we can awaken to the brightness within and share it with the world. Please visit the blog at

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Gift of Easter

It's always interesting and helpful to hear other perspectives on the power of Easter in our lives. Thought you might enjoy this one.

Do you ever wish you could have a do-over?

I know I do!  When I mishandle a situation with my kids, I wish I could go back, start over, and respond rather than react.

When I say something to my husband with a disrespectful tone in my voice, I want to rewind the tape and start over.

If you've have found yourself longing for a do-over, there's good news.

While there's no physical way to push the rewind button on our life, we have a God who is in the business of fresh starts.  That's what Easter is all about! 

Jesus' death on the cross was all about starting over.  He died for us and then came to life again three days later. His death and resurrection set the pattern for what our life in God is to look like.  When we mess up, God's forgiveness puts the sin to death and begins new life in our heart.  It's the Easter story over and over again in our life.  Easter is really all about do-overs!  
So in real life it looks like this:
  • I accept Christ as my Savior.  I thank Him for His death on the cross for me, and I ask Him to be the leader of my life.  
  • When I mishandle a situation with my kids, I tell God I'm sorry.  I accept His forgiveness and walk in His grace. Then I apologize to my kids, and I start over.  
  • When I speak to my husband disrespectfully, I apologize to God and accept His forgiveness.  Then I apologize to my husband and walk confidently in my do-over.
Here's the best part: the more I apologize and make it right, the more I'm motivated to change.  The full do-over happens when I allow God to transform my heart and I stop doing the same sin over and over again.  

What if this Easter, it was less about the Easter bunny and eggs and more about a new life in Christ?  What if we got serious about the do-over's God offers?  
Taken from Hearts - At- Home site

Glorious Spring

Experiencing God’s Creation, Rain or Shine

by Tracey Bianchi 04-14-2011
I’m a Midwestern girl coming out of her winter shell this month. Flip flops are lost companions just now crawling out from under beds and hidden closet shelves. My heart is light as I see daffodils fighting with the frozen ground and Magnolia buds cracking open. Every time the seasons flip and winter caves into spring I find my soul stunned again by the majesty and simple goodness of being outside.
In Chicago, three long months of the year are spent at temperatures below freezing. Then, come summer we actually have the audacity to lament the chewy, 90-degree air of July. We combat both temperature extremes by flipping on the heat or air conditioning. We race from climate-controlled homes to air conditioned cars, from heated grocery stores to humidity free schools.
If I’m not careful, I’ll spend half my life hiding inside.
So when I discover again the glory of God, as revealed in Psalm 36, I confess that it’s hard to grasp drinking from God’s deep rivers when I drink from a faucet.
But your loyal love, Lord, extends to the skies; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains; your justice is like the deepest sea. Lord, you save both humans and animals. Your faithful love is priceless, God! Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the bounty of your house; you let them drink from your river of pure joy. Within you is the spring of life. In your light, we see light (Psalm 36:5-9).
Righteousness like mountains and justice like the sea? Nope. The elevation of Chicago is 597 feet. Try to climb that. God’s love extending to the skies? Well, I do look up during worship and count the beams in the sanctuary, but I cannot see past the building to get to God’s extensive skies.
Regardless of where you live, the trajectory of American life has most of us trying to eek out a life by shuffling from building to building. We are often separated from the vastness of God’s creation unless we determine otherwise.
Passages like this nudge me to get outside even when the temperature hovers at 10 degrees below zero. We hear God speaking in the sunset, the snowdrift, and in all 597 feet of my Midwestern elevation if we just take the time to look and listen.
God speaks to us every day, all of creation sings the glory of God. God’s mercy and goodness reach to the heavens. This year’s liturgical calendar brings the Lenten journey and Earth Day into a partnership. The Christian holy week (Good Friday) shares the same calendar square as Earth Day.
Perhaps on this day we should fast and pray, worship and dream, cry and yearn for God like Good Friday and Holy Week beg us to do. And then, step outside and do it all again.
Dream and worship; be in the presence of the Almighty; feel the weight of God’s glory pressing down upon us in Creation. Give praise to God who created the very heavens and earth that proclaim the work of God’s hands. And let the sunshine soak our tired, weary souls as we emerge from the darkness of Lent into the splendor of the resurrection.
Step outside. Step outside.
You can find more about Tracey at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good Books

I can't say enough about Seasons by French illustrator/artist BlexBolex. The book is simple in concept yet has strikingly beautiful images of nature, of the world around us, the small blessings we sometimes overlook. Enjoy with your little one today and for years to come. Peace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yoga from a Christian Perspective

Join us for yoga at First Congo April 16th from 9am to 10:15am in Plymouth Hall. Cost is $10.00 for the class. Bring a mat or buy on for $10!

Craft Night This Friday!

Come get crafty!!

Please join us Friday, April 15th in the Seim Room from 6 to 10pm. We won't be crafting over the summer so this is your last chance to get those photographs organized, finish knitting that scarf or update the baby book before the next baby arrives. Come collage, write poetry or sew! We are hoping to see many of you Friday evening!

Praise God - Yasmin Levy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family Fun

Hope to see you all in you bunny ears this Saturday for the LaGrange Park District Easter Egg Hunt at Denning Park at 10am and then the Flying High Easter Egg Open Gym from 12-2pm. Bring your cameras!

LaGrange Park Dist Easter Egg Hunt—FREE!

Flying High Gym--$10 per kid
Easter bunny, 8000 eggs, jumpy house, face painting

thanks for the info Terri!!
image from

Have You Been?

Tates Old Fashioned Ice Cream
25 S. Ashland Ave., La Grange, IL 352-4848
Craft Classes- includes craft and kiddie scoop
Everyday 1:00pm and 3:30pm - $5.00

God Infusions - Creativity as a Path

One way to feel connected to God is to experiment with your gifts. We all have gifts but perhaps have never taken the risk to reveal them or we did reveal them at one time and are afraid to do so again. The suggestions below are for YOU. They are for your spirit. They are enacted prayer. Parts of you are set free to revel in God's wonder-filled world. Enjoy! Peace.

visit an art museum or exhibit
dance in your living room
paint ceramics
read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron
paint a wall
make a collage with old magazines
photograph your surroundings, even the things you cook!
try a new hairstyle
learn about an artist like Matisse, Georgia O'Keefe, Alexander Calder
watch a black and white classic movie (On the Waterfront - or anything with Merna Loy, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn)
buy and arrange flowers
collect leaves
color in a coloring book
go to the symphony
make your own jewelry (Circle of Stones, LaGrange IL)
visit an art studio (Riverside Art Center)
get your hands dirty- garden even if you don't have a green thumb
turn off the tv for a week
bird watch
learn to sew a simple bag
start a blog (
notice the buds opening on all of the trees and bushes
write a letter - on paper to a friend or relative
some ideas from

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Reverend Rocks...she really does!

Reverend Katherine Willis Pershey:
DJ spot on WLTL 88.1 on Monday, April 11th from 7-8pm.  The show is called The Reverend Rocks!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sacred in the Minivan

Check out this short video. Some good ideas for bringing calm and the sacred into our very rushed lives.

Pearls of Parenting Wisdom


Personal Development In Parenting–Part Four: Concrete Ideas

In order to handle the rigors of family life, I have posited in the last few posts that we must think about biography, balance of the physical body and the inner bodies, faith and faithfulness (our beliefs, and how faithful are we in ACTION to our beliefs).  In addition to the things I already mentioned in the first three parts of this series, I want to name some concrete actions you could take to start your own inner work so you can be centered for your best parenting:

  • Create a space in your day for meditation and prayer.  It may be that you do this whilst you nurse a baby or in the shower.  As a parent, you may not really get even fifteen minutes to yourself to sit quietly, so you have to be open to cultivating a new kind of practice that entails quieting your mind whilst moving or doing something else.  This is just a season; children do grow!
  • Watch your computer habit.  Most mothers I speak with use their computers as an escape tool at times.  Force yourself to be present even if you don’t want to.  If you are trying to escape because you are tired, bored, resentful, work on trying to fix the root cause of those feelings with action, not escape. 
  • Practice cultivating silence in the home when you can.  Less words, more warm smiles and hugs, soft humming, silence and reverence together.
  • If it speaks to you, you could start using Rudolf Steiner’s six basic meditative exercises.  These meditative exercises can be used in conjunction with other religious or spiritual practices.  I suggest starting with one at a time, going through all of them, and then eventually working in combination of exercises.
  • Work in the arts:  music, painting, sculpting, crafts, reading all build up your reserves of energy. 
  • Have an area of your own personality, will that you are working and striving to cultivate.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Have rhythm in your life.  Keep striving for this if it is a difficult area for you.  Write down what you want to do in the area of rhythm, and do it for forty days.  If you “fall off the wagon”, get back on.
  • Keep in mind that each minute is a new start.  Keep striving and going.
  • Balance your year by season – there are some seasons where we are move active in outside the home activities and some seasons where we might be home more.  Look at your year.
  • Look at your monthly rhythm – many women feel tired around the time of their menstrual cycles, and it may be worth it to plan this into your monthly rhythm as much as you can to honor that time.  This is a beautiful time, not a time to be medicated and rushed through.
  • Where are your “no’s” in life?  What are your boundaries for you personally?  No’s help maintain balance, no’s help us find the time to be home and centered for our own inner work and parenting in an unhurried manner.
  • Wake up before your children.  If you are rubbing your eyes and the children are already fighting, making a mess, helping themselves to what is in the kitchen, then the morning is not off to the best start.
  • Keep a day of rest, a Sabbath.  This is important during the weekly rhythm.  You yourself must hold how to do this. 
  • I think it is important to work toward being objective in parenting. Many times if we can just pull back and look at things without so much emotion, we find the right answers for our children.   If we can let go of guilt, which does NOTHING to move any situation forward, we can reach more joy in our homes. 
from the site: The Parenting Passageway

Words for You

i thank you God for most this amazing...

e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)