Monday, December 31, 2012

World’s Biggest Congregation

World’s Biggest Congregation
Fascinating story....

Jewish Jesus

Jewish Jesus
From Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.....

Hopes and Fears....

Alban - Building Up Congregations and Their Leaders
Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People
Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses have written a book about being not-perfect parents in a not-perfect world. The result, Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People, is a joyous celebration of child-rearing in which any parent—no matter how perfect—can share.
"I want to have a happy and healthy marriage, and I want to have happy, faithful kids," proclaims co-author McCleneghan in the introduction to the book. "But I reject the pervasive cultural lie that a happy marriage and the faithful kids are somehow the byproducts of some rigorous and largely unattainable personal or moral perfection."
Thus, Hopes and Fears is neither a "how-to" book nor a mere meditation. Rather, the authors seek to find the beautiful and the spiritual in the sometimes mundane activities that parents have performed since the beginning of history, while at the same time allowing beautiful and spiritual insights of the past to inform and shape the activities of modern parenting. Thus, the words of a hymn can trigger an idea about how to deal with bedtime, and an exercise in baby-naming can lead to a better understanding of a passage in Isaiah. The intertwining of the spiritual and familial in this book constantly surprises and delights: a quote from Paul Tillich can stand next to one from Tina Fey or What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
We are often reminded that the authors, two longtime friends, are ordinary working mothers. Fortunately, they are also experienced and well-read congregational leaders, and they bring that perspective to their reflections. McCleneghan, a United Methodist Elder, works as the Associate for Congregational Life at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago and is a frequent contributor to Christian Century. Lee Hull Moses is the pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Hopes and Fears is also about sharing, in the widest and deepest sense of that word. As many parents know, learning to share is one of the most difficult things for many children to acquire. McCleneghan and Moses have decided to teach by example with this book, noting: "we’re hopeful that as we share our lives—the trials and tribulations and incredible joys—other parents will feel inspired to reflect on their own experiences, and perhaps even to consider new ways in which their own faith is relevant to their identities as parents."
Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People is highly suitable for group study as well as individual reflection.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Don't be afraid to be who you are. I've wasted so many days and sometimes years it seems wanting to be something I am not. Be freed from this fear, this angst. It steals your joy and your time here on earth. paz.

Healthy Practices for Practicing Balance

Healthy Practices for Practicing Balance
Some more ideas for the new year. blessings!

The Martha Stewart Blog

My Holiday Brunch – Part Two - The Martha Stewart Blog

Peter Mayer "Holy Now"

From Bread, Not Stones

Bread, Not Stones: Ten Things I Want to Tell Parents
Consider adding this to your New Year's Resolution - 

Eternal God, your Son points us to the unfolding of your kingdom in our midst. May we become living signs of the kingdom through the love we show those around us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-From Daily Prayer


Peter Mayer "The Play"

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holiday Greetings from the Art Institute of Chicago

Don't forget to go to the Art Institute over winter break. It's one of our favorite places to visit - especially the Miniature Room collection!!     paz.

Friday, December 28, 2012

random acts of christmas kindness

random acts of christmas kindness :: summary
It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can, ironically, be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.”
No grandstanding is henceforth necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved from the inside out—once and for all. Such salvation is experienced now in small tastes, whetting our appetite for eternity.
Richard Rohr

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Meditations

Luke 2:16-19

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Kenneth L. Samuel

If you really think about it, the Christmas story is far too amazing to be fully comprehended. An ancient prophesy from Isaiah promising the birth of a child who would be called 'Wonderful' and on whose shoulders the government would rest. An imperial tax emanating from Rome that brings a carpenter and his pregnant fiancee to the obscure little town of Bethlehem. A barn that serves as a venue for the first-born of a young virgin. Shepherds on the night shift enraptured by a multitude of the heavenly host proclaiming: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace. Good will toward men."

The amazement of those who witnessed these events firsthand has not dissipated in over 2000 years. Today, we still speak of the baby born in Bethlehem with an awesome wonder. We still gather around manger scenes and Christmas trees with a certain joy that is unspeakable. We are still astounded by the miracle of life that is divinely manifested in the midst of all our taxing troubles, trials and tribulations.

In a world in which so much of our persistent analysis results in so much paralysis and inertia, isn’t it good to just relax and hold some of the deep mysteries of life in reverent meditation? And is it not refreshing to know that life itself is not really dependent upon our ability to comprehend everything? Is not Christmas a time that beckons each of us to simply be thankful for that which we cannot explain? Is this not a time to deeply appreciate and meditate on miracles?

Revelations that are incomprehensible. Miracles. Experiences of life that are unexplainable. Miracles. Mysteries of God that are unfathomable. Miracles. Peace that passes understanding. Miracles.

Mother Mary knew that the miracle of Jesus could not be reduced to logic. She knew that while the birth of Jesus could be fully experienced, it could never be fully explained. So she gave her will to control through comprehension a rest, and opened her heart and mind to the awesome wonder of the Christ event. And in so doing she found the great treasures of Christmas in the sacred pondering of her own heart and in the inexpressible gratitude of her own consciousness. What an amazing gift to give oneself on this Christmas Day.


Dear Lord, we are in wondrous awe of your miracles of life and new life on this Christmas Day. Thank you for keeping us amazed. Amen.
Best Albums of 2012

Is longevity overrated?

Is longevity overrated?
Reflections on living as we enter a new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012


Own Less. Live More.

Great blog. Check it out. Just might be liberating for you....

Shifting Perspective

Collector of Moments Has Lots of Storage Space

from Life Edited:
Each week we are profiling real people who are editing their lives for more freedom and happiness. This week we hear from Lucy, a grad student and an active proponent of a new, sharing-based economy and showing how we can all do and live more with less stuff.
Tell us about yourself
I am a 21 year old business school graduate from Toronto, Canada. I work at a Canadian telecom company and for a start-up organization called Unstash, a peer-to-peer platform for collaborative consumption. I am a strong believer in creating social change through sharing and collaborative living.
What makes your life an ‘edited’ one?
I don’t feel the need to be obsessed with stuff anymore. I used to be a mindless shopper, but then I learned about access over ownership, the idea that we don’t need to own everything, in fact, we don’t need stuff, we need the utility it provides. If we can get that utility through sharing, we can also save money, create less waste, deepen our relationships and live happier lives.
Before, I used to dream of having a large library filled with books. But during my editing, I realized that a book sitting idle on a shelf has no purpose. I thought to myself, do I really need to own this book when it’s available to me at any time from the library? This prompted me to donate over 40 books to my local library. I felt great knowing each book could get maximum utilization as more people now had access to them, allowing their content to be constantly shared.
the Unstash Manifesto
Now, before I buy anything, I think to myself, do I really need this? Can I borrow it from someone else? For example, I borrowed a Halloween costume from a friend rather than buying one that I would only use once. And on the flip side, I am always open to lend or give my things to others. Sharing is a part of my life editing. Once I gather all the things that I can go without, I ask friends if they need any of the stuff I no longer need. I have given a dress to a friend who was looking for one to wear for her birthday. I gave away a large stack of post-its to a friend who uses them to organize her files. These actions allow me to share something that’s not useful to me with someone who needs them.
How long have you been living this way, and do see yourself continuing to live this way?
I started living this way in May of this year. I had watched the Ted Talks of Rachel Botsman and Graham Hill, where I began to learn about collaborative consumption and living minimally, namely, less stuff = more happiness. The ideas made a lot of sense to me, and I will definitely continue to live this way. Living an edited life is practical, efficient and a smarter way to live.
What are the biggest advantages of living this way?
The biggest advantage of living this way is being able to focus on experiences rather than things. I’m able to spend money I’ve saved on a night out with friends or on a memorable trip. I feel like I can spend my time on what really matters to me–with friends, family and doing things that make me happy. The less we are consumed with the stuff we own, the more time we have to collect those moments in life that really matter to us.
What are the biggest challenges?
For me, the biggest challenge is trying to explain the concept of sharing and minimal living to friends and family who don’t grasp the idea and label it as hippie, backwards thinking, or just a fad.
Do you think you could maintain this lifestyle with a family?
Definitely. With more stuff, there’s an even greater need for less clutter. There’s also a lot of stuff that can be shared when you have a family, like children’s clothes and toys.
What is the number one suggestion you’d give to someone looking edit their lives?
Start editing right away, even if it’s just a few things. Go through those old filing cabinets, closets and storage boxes. Once you actually get rid of stuff, you will feel amazing. That feeling will prompt you to continue editing and move towards a life edited lifestyle.
What item(s) have made your lifestyle easier?
My laptop and my smartphone, which include lots of easy-to-use apps like Airbnb and Orchestra. Everything is digitized, centralized and customized for my needs. Oh, and my library card :)
Do you have any design or architectural suggestions derived from your lifestyle?
Don’t buy a huge bookshelf or lots of storage because you will want to fill it and might end up hoarding or buying stuff just to fill those empty shelves or boxes.
Anything else?
Check out Unstash, a mobile app for life editing. Our belief is that every social circle has a huge overlap in consumer goods that don’t all need to be purchased, owned and maintained by every individual. We enhance the sharing experience, while helping people save money, deepen relationships and create a more sustainable future together.

Sharing Our Abundance

Running Strong Logo Shield RUNNING STRONG FOR AMERICAN INDIAN YOUTH® began in 1986 as a project of Christian Relief Services Charities.

Today, Running Strong is led by an American Indian Board of Directors that strives to build the capacity of communities, grassroots Indian organizations, families, and individuals to leverage their strengths and solve problems.

OUR MISSION is to help American Indian people meet their immediate survival needs – food, water, and shelter – while implementing and supporting programs designed to create opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem.

• Food distribution and nutrition
• Water wells
• Youth programs
• Cultural and language preservation
• Housing assistance

OUR ADVISORY BOARD is composed of a special group of leaders in American Indian communities across the United States. They are an important resource to ensure that our programs preserve, promote and respect Indian culture and values.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Savior in Work Boots with Lillian Daniel

Calm in the Rush

Give Yourself the Gift of a Calm Mind...
Meditation with Susan
giving and receiving
Giving and Receiving
Wednesday, December 5
6:45 - 7:45pm
Instructor: Susan Diederich
Giving and receiving gifts can be gestures loaded with significance. Our gifts can reflect our feelings for others, our perceptions of their desires and our hopes for the relationship. Gifts we receive can reflect the giver's perception of us and our desires as well.
The holiday season is an appropriate time to examine our thoughts about giving and receiving. Susan uses the imagery of gifts and giving in this guided meditation to help us explore our feelings for others and about intimacy, and fine-tune our own self-awareness and self- acceptance.
Fee: $16 or one class card punch.

Don't Miss this Sweet Treat of a Class...
Yoga, Chakras and Chocolate!
Sunday, December 9
2:00 - 3:30pm
Instructor: Susan Diederich
Even as yogis strive for control over the senses, our deeper awareness allows for greater sensitivity. Enjoy an immersive sensory experience in this workshop, combining simple yoga poses, deep chakra work and delicious chocolates.
Through centering work, warm-ups and a series of selected poses, Susan leads this exploration of the physical body and the energetic centers of the body (chakras). She combines this work with the rich flavors of carefully selected chocolates. From the root chakra to the crown, Susan offers delectable insights and chocolate flavors from the subtle to the explosive: chili, vanilla, salt, ginger, mint and more. This class is suitable for all levels.
Fee: $25; includes fee for chocolates.
Focus Yoga, Brookfield IL


India Partners works alongside a broad group of indigenous Christian grassroots agencies in India focused on alleviating poverty and injustice. We believe in helping the people of India help themselves, with God's grace. Our partner organizations in India serve all regardless of caste, religion, gender, or creed.
Our vision is an India rich in hope, justice, and the compassion of Christ.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Churches and the Disabled

Churches and the Disabled
We have so much to teach one another.
Happy December. Happy Advent!! paz.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Still Speaking

Sometimes Spirits Need Shelters
Excerpt from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-20

"Do not quench the Spirit."

Reflection by Maren C. Tirabassi

Ellie adapted and adjusted to limitations caused by aging, redefining loss as opportunity.

"I can't stay at home - how exciting to meet new folks in the assisted living facility. My children live in other states – isn't Skype awesome? My pastor retired, but the interim (when plied with pumpkin bread) has amazing stories. My part-time job requires more vision than I have, but I can volunteer. When Fickle, my Jack Russell terrier, died, I found the perfect volunteer job walking dogs and cleaning small animal cages at the SPCA."

For five years Ellie was settled. She avoided bingo and gossip at Plymouth Grove, but the new pastor was acceptable, and Ellie was indispensable at the SPCA. She was a model of "Thessalonian" life that Paul commends—never idle, full of contagious joy, prayerful and thankful. Then the "quencher" happened. Ellie lost the use of her legs and suddenly discovered how much of her life was based on mobility.

Then the SPCA director asked Ellie if she would be willing to sit on a small chair inside four of the shelter cages where new dogs were so timid and traumatized that they were virtually non-adoptable. Not walk. Just sit. For an hour visit with each one, Ellie sits and talks and scratches ears, if the dog is willing to approach her. Four hours a day, six days a week, she, in the words of Paul's letter, "encourages the fainthearted, helps the weak, is patient with all of them."


God, thank you for all the small and precious stories of unquenchable spirits. Help me recognize them, share them and live into my own. Amen.

Needs vs Wants

I don't know what Patagonia's manufacturing practices are but I thought the sentiment of this video was very powerful.  Pass it on.....paz.

<iframe src="" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>


Jim Bennitt Early Bird Discount Deadline Extended. Sign up Today!
Prana and Pranayama Jim Bennitt pose
Sunday, December 2
9:30am - 12:00pm
Instructor: Jim Bennitt
"Pranayama practiced appropriately can cure all disease and practiced inappropriate can cause all disease".- The Hatha Yoga Pradapika
The ancient yogi's didn't practice to achieve a "six pack" or that great "yoga butt". They practiced to build, move and eventually stop the flow of prana. While most practitioners today have gained great flexibility and strength through the physical practice, they have little to no knowledge on the subtle practice of breathwork.
This class will first discuss prana in more detail followed by a short, gentle asana practice to help prepare for a longer pranayama session. Appropriate for teachers and students with some yoga experience. This 2.5 hour workshop allows for question and answer time at the end of class.
Fee: $35 pre-registered. $45 at the door, space available.  Focus Yoga, Brookfield

Advent Begins

Advent is a time to focus our expectations and anticipation on "the adult Christ, the Cosmic Christ," who challenges us to empty ourselves, to lose ourselves, to surrender. Preparing for Christmas offers daily meditations, prayers, Scripture readings, and questions for reflection for each day of Advent.
ISBN: 978-1-61636-478-6 Item #: B36478 Price:$8.99

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Christmas Carol Sing-Along
There's nothing quite like singing Christmas carols to get you in the Christmas spirit! Bring your kids, friends, and neighbors and join the Spirit Worship Band in Plymouth Hall at 3pm on Dec. 16th to sing all your favorites plus a few new carols. Hot chocolate and refreshments will be served, and there will be activity tables for children. GREAT event for Families in Faith!
First Congregational Church Western Springs

Book Sign-ups
If you have not yet signed up for your January book selection, please do so before November 30th. Click this link for the online registration form.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sistine Chapel Anniversary

Sistine Chapel Anniversary
Living a little vicariously these days as the winter routine sets in....
Click on link to make a visit to a room with the cosmos for a ceiling.

Friday, November 23, 2012


customized Puffin classics here.



So how do you communicate to others what is inherently a secret? Or can you? How can the secret become “unhidden”? It becomes unhidden when people stop hiding—from God, themselves, and at least one other person. The emergence of our True Self is actually the big disclosure of the secret. Such risky self-disclosure is what I mean by intimacy, and intimacy is the way that love is transmitted. Some say the word comes from the Latin intimus, referring to that which is interior or inside. Some say its older meaning is found by in timor, or “into fear.” In either case, the point is clear: intimacy happens when we reveal and expose our insides, and this is always scary. One never knows if the other can receive what is exposed, will respect it, or will run fast in the other direction. One must be prepared to be rejected. It is always a risk. The pain of rejection after self-disclosure is so great that it often takes a lifetime for people to risk it again. - Friar R. Rohr
One Pray at a Time

Excerpt from 1 Samuel 1:21-28

"And [Hannah] said, 'Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord.'"

Reflection by Maren C. Tirabassi

My best communities of faith are recovery groups. Some of them have "anonymous" in their title and others do not. These communities teach me how to live one day at a time, how to simply take others at the one day they are having without judgment, how to tell my story and listen to the stories of others and how to pray really hard!

When it comes to addiction the world is full of misunderstanding. Hannah was praying her longing for a child and Eli said, "How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself?" Did he make an assumption because he knew Hannah from her annual visits, or because that was his go-to criticism of women? We don't know.

Hannah didn't become defensive. She shared her story and asked for his help, which shook the holier-than-thou right out of him. Eli was willing to sponsor her in prayer before God. He rejoiced with her years later when she came with her boy Samuel to show him how her life was changed. And Samuel never drank.

God changes lives. In spite of all the ways we can misunderstand, enable, judge, or expect the worst of one another, every day is an opportunity to re-make relationships and recover hope.


God grant me the serenity to accept everyone as they are, the courage to tell my own story, and the wisdom to trust God to take care of the rest. Amen.

Advent Conspiracy

Something to keep in mind every year! Less presents! More presence! paz.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dana Greene on Poet Denise Levertov

Dana Greene on Poet Denise Levertov
Click on link.
We all could use a little more poetry in our lives. Enjoy this piece on Denise Levertov.

Caring for an Aging Parent

Caring for an Aging Parent
Click on link.
This time in our lives seems to come all too soon. Just when you get the chance to be an adult with your parents and enjoy them as contemporaries they quickly start to rely on you for care and compassion. May we all have the patience and wisdom to move into this phase of life together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Learning about other traditions can deepen our faith and lead to greater peace and understanding in the world. Click on above link.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

God, we give thanks for so many things. Thank you mostly for all the ways you are present in our lives. We know who we belong to and we are grateful. paz.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Paper Kites - Bloom (Official Music Video)

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Otherside

Wal-Mart Faces a New Round of Historic Strikes... But Why Now?

Wal-Mart Faces a New Round of Historic Strikes... But Why Now?
I'm always wondering what the issues are surrounding strikes and labor issues. Here's one perspective. See post. 
Christians have a stake in how others are treated and in how we go about our daily lives, fully conscious of how our decisions impact the lives of others.  Thy Kingdom Come....

Feeding the Fire of Transformation

Focus Yoga: Feeding the Fire of Transformation: Judi Harvin Last post we talked about agni , the "digestive fire" that aids in transformation. The really cool thing about agni is that...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

U2's Bono Speaks at GU Global Social Enterprise Event

Inconvenient solidarity: Religion professors support a hotel boycott | The Christian Century

Inconvenient solidarity: Religion professors support a hotel boycott | The Christian Century
By Reverend Lillian Daniel

I'm not sure I understand what this boycott is all about. Ignorance is bliss. This is an opportunity to learn about a struggle for low wage workers. What do you think?

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Is Grace?

What Is Grace?

I really struggle with the concept of grace.  I know it's not popular Christian theology to say but I disagree that we don't deserve the love of God. That's how grace has been explained to me. I believe we all deserve the love of God because we were born, plain and simple. We are God's children, well made and filled with the Spirit. My children deserve every ounce of my love, always, because they were born to me, miracles, a gift pure and simple. Grace is the love that a parent has for the child, always (with bumps and challenges), but we don't have the choice to love them or not.  God doesn't have the choice to love his children or not. We belong to Him, forever, made in Her image, well made and good. Grace is unselfish and holy. We are the beloved - thanks be to God.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Serving a Second Time

The Mission Continues

Good Works

Chabad Relief and Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Things We Should Know As Women, As Christians

The Misogyny Behind an Attempted Assassination of a Man in Congo - The Atlantic

Love Your Body

New Thinking for a New Era
The World Community for Christian Meditation
presents two masters:
Richard Rohr, OFM
and Laurence Freeman, OSB
Feb. 15-17, 2013
Chicago Marriott O'Hare
Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!
There is widening agreement in scientific and social fields alike that a radical new way of thinking about our national and global issues is necessary. How do we arrive at a new way of comprehending ourselves, one another, and the world?
Sharing a long friendship and grounded in the same great spiritual tradition, Richard Rohr and Laurence Freeman offer ways we can put our deepest aspirations for personal realization and social transformation into practice. They explore the origins of our crisis and show us the path toward lasting change and a more just and loving humanity.

Faitheist by Chris Stedman | ABOUT THE BOOK

Faitheist by Chris Stedman | ABOUT THE BOOK
things to consider......

What Matters Most - ING DIRECT

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friedman's Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple

applies to life at home, in a community and at work. Fascinating!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


My Aunt Sylvia sent this to me from California. I'm sorry that I don't have the author yet but I'll try to get it. It's just a miraculous story.


 Father Boyle opened his talk with a story about Mario.

Of all the people with tattoos in the Home Boy Industries,

Mario had the most,  on arms legs, back, torso, only a small space was left open on his face

Ask anyone, though, who the kindest, most gentle, most loving person in place was

And all answers would be an easy, “Mario.”

Invited to speak at his Alma Mater, Gonzaga, in Washington State

Father Greg took Mario for his first plane ride

When they arrived to a schedule of not one, but countless speeches,

Father G told the young man he would be

on his own to speak in some of the classes

And so he shared his story

His mother had beaten him every day of his young life

With belts and hangers and all manner of objects

He wore three tee shirts to school each day to cover the blood her beatings left

His mother took him to an orphanage near Baja California and left him at the door.

It took his grandmother 3 months to find him there and rescue him,

She raised him after that.

In one of the classrooms, a member of the audience said

“You now have children of your own, what advice do you give to them?”

Struck dumb by the question he could not response for a time, then he said with some force,

“ I will tell them just not to be like me.” 

The audience went silent.  The woman who asked the question

 then said, pointing her finger at him

“Why shouldn’t they be like you, you are warm, and loving kind and generous, why shouldn’t they be just like you?” 

At that point the whole room rose as one and clapped and clapped and would not stop clapping as Mario just buried his face in his hands.

Father Boyle said the audience had moved at that moment from empathy to awe, and Mario was no longer the object of pity , but the subject of reverent admiration for the weight of what he had carried and survived.

Tears streaming down, Father G said, “This is all God asks of us, to reach a state of awe in the wonder of the sacred souls of the other. Quoting from the Book of Jeremiah, he concludes,

 “In this place of which you say, “It is a waste…there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness… the voices of those who sing…”

(33:11) Your lives are not a waste.

Sleep Tips for You

Sleep tips for every day
Eat and drink for sleep. Connect the dots between what and when you eat and how well you sleep — sugar, caffeine, and alcohol may be factors to consider.
Adapt your routine. Set a reasonable bedtime, unplug before bed, and try exercising in the morning or at midday instead of in the evening.
Promote good sleep hygiene. Be sure your room is dark, quiet, and has comfortable bedding. Don’t allow electronics or digital clocks to “zap” you in the night.
Consider your stress and anxiety. The stress hormone cortisol is connected to our circadian rhythms. Supporting healthy cortisol balance and adrenal health may help to reset your sleep-wake cycle.

taken from women to women site: more great tips for pms, perimenopause, menopause here.

The "D" Word

Great article on depression and faith.  If we talk about it more with one another then perhaps our days won't seem so dark and lonely.
May you find joy today and know that you are loved.

Healing Oils!

This Monday...essential oils
Essential Oils with Ellie
Monday, October 15
1:00 - 2:00pm
Instructor: Ellie Taylor
Essential oils seem like such a sweet indulgence. They can smell so wonderful, it's easy to see how they can foster
relaxation, focus, and a feeling of well-being. But, can they do more?
Join Ellie Taylor and learn about the benefits of essential oils. Learn how oils can be used to enhance personal wellness, the home environment, meditation, and yoga. You will leave with an idea of which oils would be helpful to you, and how to best use them. There will be no asana, just experiencing, discussion, and information.
Fee: $16 or one class card punch.
Focus Yoga, Brookfield, IL
Call us at 708 471 0487

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bread For You

"Conversion is light renewed, love of God renewed. The convert is a [man or woman] who has died and has risen again."
- Rabbi Israel Zolli

Food Deserts

Food Deserts

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What is An Evangelical?

The most important thing we evangelicals have to learn from Buechner is honesty. His books seem to show that it is possible to learn to tell the truth, to be frank with ourselves about our doubts and fears." -- The late Professor Joe McClatchey, Wheaton College.
"Grace is something you can never get but only be given. The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you… The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
-- Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking
Evangelical is probably one of the most misused words in the public square today. Most often it is equated with fundamentalism or dogmatism; and, of late, it seems to have picked up a decidedly Republican and Neo-Conservative flavor and aroma.
None of those things should have anything whatsoever to do with being an Evangelical Christian.
When I was an undergraduate student at Wheaton College in the late 1980s, I missed opportunities to take classes or at least audit them with either Frederick Buechner or Joe McClatchey.
To me, those two gentlemen are and were the most formative voices on what it means to be authentic Evangelical Christians.
Being an Evangelical Christian means accepting grace and being honest about your faith with others.
First, I think you have be honest with yourself and God; and, then, when you’re as true as you can be about both what you actually know and what you actually don’t -- that’s what’s worth sharing.
A few years back, I visited a Christian couple at Yale while they where working on their doctorates in psychology. The husband, David, was doing research around “EQ” or emotional quotients in people. One of the research projects he developed was about how we perceive ourselves.
It turns out that most people rank themselves in the top 80 percent of almost everything, which obviously can’t be true. The people who most accurately rank themselves are depressives.
Being authentic doesn’t always mean being an optimist. What the English call “happy-clappy” Christianity probably isn’t true.
C.S. Lewis said that grace is what separates Christianity from the other faith traditions. Grace, as I understand it, is simply making the exception the rule.
In the Judaic tradition, God attempted to establish justice by covenants governed by laws that failed as many times as they were tried. Christ came to fulfill that covenant, which every person -- or the proverbial “Adam” -- broke almost as fast as it could be established.
The good news of Christianity is that everything -- the entirety of creation -- is being redeemed and it’s all happening through Christ’s work. As followers of Christ we are called to co-labor with him. That is what evangelism is about.
Many Fundamentalists have been concerned lately with a movement towards Christ redeeming everything and not just the few lucky buggers who elbow their way into heaven’s supposedly Titanic-sized lifeboats. Somehow, they think that a God who would torture people forever in conscious torment is a story the world needs to hear. They seem to revel in revealing a God who makes the Nazi death camps seem humane.
They point to a future escape from this world where none of what happens here really endures. If that’s the truth of what God is, then I’m reverting to my Frisian pagan roots. Valhalla is a thousand times better than that.
The truth is that Jesus didn’t talk about burning non-believers in conscious torment forever. He did talk about burning the trash off of the religious leaders who were tormenting their followers on Earth with the weight of extra rules no one could fulfill.
Oppressive rules create a co-dependency and order whilst filling pews and coffers. It offers control to people that live to bend others to their will. It is not good news. It is not a better society.
I’m on the board of Growers First, which is a business-as-mission organization that works with rural poor coffee farmers. We take St Francis’ admonition seriously to “Preach the gospel; and, if necessary, use words.” We work to apply the Lord’s Prayer, in particular, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.”
Growers First is decidedly not a Christian organization although many of us are involved because our faith includes a responsibility to work with the poor.
During a lunch meeting with Phil Ryken, the new president of Wheaton College, last year, he responded to St. Francis’ credo saying that at some point someone has to use words to preach the gospel. I’m not sure I agree.
If you truly believe in God’s sovereignty, then you believe that he doesn’t need us. He lets us participate in his will. Forcing a need to convert people to our beliefs may not be aligned with God’s will to redeem them to himself.
As the Irish sage, Jack Heaslip, has taught me, it behooves us to develop a laziness for God’s will, a willingness to wait, listen and move as God calls us, as he opens the doors for us.
Our approach at Growers First has let us co-labor and helped us lead one of the largest pastor’s conferences in Mexico every year. We take discipleship seriously with those who are thirsty for it.
Rob Bell is a good friend and former Wheaton classmate. He has a great analogy about why we ought to follow Jesus, and how we should share it. Rob says that if you knew there was a vast buried treasure in your backyard, you wouldn’t need threats to go dig it up and embrace it. No one would be able to stop you from pursuing it, and once you found it, no one would be able to stop you from celebrating it.
That is the Gospel.
So being an Evangelical Christian is, for me, about finding grace and embracing it, celebrating it with others and then working to bring about God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven.
- David Vanderveen

Sunday, September 30, 2012



Learning about our Jewish sisters and brothers................What can we learn from them about our faith today?

Half the Sky | Independent Lens | PBS

Half the Sky | Independent Lens | PBS

Don't forget!! Check it out tomorrow night!


Today We'd Put Them on Reality TV

Excerpt from Acts 2:42-47

"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

I love my church but I find it difficult to imagine all of us emptying our savings accounts and dumping them into a common pot. I can't picture us all selling our cars, so that everyone gets the same vehicle, be it a bike, a Chevy, or a skateboard. I'm in awe of the early church in the book of Acts, where they shared it all in common. Today, we would talk these people into doing a reality TV show. We'd film them squabbling over who brought the most bread or wine to this giant ecclesiastical yard sale. In other words, I don't believe this was actually easy for them.

I see this scripture as a goal. And at church, we come closer to living it out than we do at work, or school, or the sports arena. At least every week in church, we do share some of what's in our pockets. For this reason, I am in favor of always putting something in the offering plate when it is passed. You may pay most of your pledge by check through the mail, but that weekly act of taking something out of the wallet that is "mine" and putting it in the plate that is "ours" is a spiritual discipline. It reminds us that none of what we have is really ours.


Generous, God whether I need to share my money, my time, my feelings or my thoughts, help me to imagine a more generous way of life. Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

In Whom We Live

It seems to me that we have made God a being instead of Being itself. Both John Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas said “Deus est Ens,” or “God is existence itself.” That is the first name of God in the Book of Exodus (3:14), which could rightly be translated “I am Am-ness,” or perhaps as Acts of the Apostles puts it: “God is the one in whom we live, and move, and have our being” (17:28).
Being, or naked existence, is the one thing that we all are a part of. It seems the essential religious problem is that human beings suffer almost universally from a massive case of mistaken identity about their radical union with God. If we can break away from the illusion of our separateness then the rest follows rather clearly, and we can reconnect with our core identity. We are each a manifestation of that Universal and Divine Being, which then takes the form of angels, humans, animals, trees, water, and Earth itself. Until we recognize that inherent and shared sacredness, we have no philosophical or compelling basis for nonviolence.
R. Rohr

Mom's Retreat and More

Please take a moment to read this email - we have some very exciting events coming up! I encourage you to forward this email to a friend, too, inviting them to participate in one or more of these great ministries. 1. Registration is officially open for our Fall Retreat! The retreat will be November 2nd and 3rd. Friday will simply be a fun dinner out. Then, on Saturday we will gather at church from 10am-4pm for Christian yoga and a program brought to us by the authors of Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People. Please note this is an event hosted by Moms in Faith but open to all moms. Feel free to invite friends! The cost for Saturday is $35/person and will include yoga, lunch, and all program expenses. Please register online and send/drop off your check (payable to First Congregational Church, Memo: MIF Retreat) by October 20th.

The Foods Resource Bank Harvest Festival is on October 7th in Mazon, Il. It is a great fall event, particularly for young families. A family friendly worship service, live music, great food (local pork and more delicious desserts than you can even imagine), petting zoo, combine rides, a pie auction... a little slice of farm life, only an hour away, and no crowds! I believe there is a free will offering for lunch, and a few opportunities to give in support of the wonderful work FRB does.

Save the date for another great fall event, the CROP Walk. Here's a word from Wendy G., a Moms in Faith member who also chairs the Mission and Outreach Committee:

Welcome to the CROP Hunger Walk!
Hunger is an issue that is very important to the First Congregational Church of Western Springs and we are getting involved! We are walking in our area CROPHunger Walk and we need your help.
Please consider participating with your family in the 2012 Crop Walk on October 21st. Strollers are welcome. The 3 mile walk begins at the First Methodist Church of Western Springs. Registration begins at 1pm and the walk begins at 1:30.
Our donations will support life-saving programs around the world and in our own neighborhood. Join me and our family and friends as we work together to solve this world-wide challenge.

Jan F. will be placing the order for the God's Big Story Cards this week. The cards are designed to help facilitate faithful conversations at home. They do correlate with our First Congo Sunday School program, but they also stand alone if your kids attend religious education classes elsewhere. The cards cost $10 and you can pay when the order comes in.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Death is Real, Not Poetic

Excerpt from Colossians 3:1-11

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

Reflection by Donna Schaper

In his poem appropriately named "Sunday Morning," Wallace Stevens says, "Death is the mother of beauty." What he means is that limitation and inevitable loss infuse the living moments with their beauty. Fair enough. If life were endless, I would not care so much about learning how to grow sweet peas. Because life is not endless, I know I only have 80 or so - max - seasons in which to try. Stevens also refers to the "complacencies of the peignoir," and "coffee and oranges in a sunny chair." He wants us to be grateful to death for helping us enter the moment. Death may be the mother of beauty but it is also the thief of beauty. Death is real, not poetic.

Hospice chaplains love to tell us what their days are like. Instead of being dramatic encounters with universal truths, hospice chaplains are often sent out to find the kind of chewing gum that the dying person really likes. Or to play cards. Or to stare out windows. The last hours for many people are long, boring, incoherent, yielding to a kind of blurry unconsciousness, not a heightened consciousness. The dying may want to set their minds on things above but they join Stevens in matters regarding oranges or sweet peas.

What makes the most sense in this text is that word "hidden." We are to set our minds on larger things, like poetry, or Christ, or oranges held up to a glimpse of immortality. But we probably won't. And that is when we will find ourselves once again, hidden in the incarnation of the higher and lower, the human and the divine, the eternal so skillfully embedded in the ordinary.


Blessed Jesus, Son of Human and Son of God, you who hide death in life and life in death for us, draw near and let our living and our dying resemble yours. Amen.

International Day of Peace 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Will We Teach About Sikhism After the Tragedy? | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

How Will We Teach About Sikhism After the Tragedy? | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

Bread for You

“Contemplation,” or meditation as it is called by some, became more popular in contemporary times through the writings of Thomas Merton. The word most Christians were more familiar with was simply “prayer.”
Unfortunately, in the West prayer became something functional; something you did to achieve a desired effect—which puts you back in charge. As soon as you make prayer a way to get something, you’re not moving into a new state of consciousness. It's the same old consciousness. “How can I get God to do what I want God to do?” It's the egocentric self still deciding what it needs, but now often trying to manipulate God too.
This is one reason religion is in such desperate straits today. It really isn't transforming people, but leaving them in their separated and egocentric state. It pulls God inside of my agenda instead of letting God pull me inside of his. This is still the small old self at work. What the Gospel is talking about is the emergence of “a whole new creation” and a “new mind,” as Paul variously calls it. - R. Rohr

Yoga at First Congo

We are pleased that "Yoga from a Christian Perspective" will be returning to 1st Congregational Church of Western Springs this fall. Classes will be held on the following dates, from 9:00 am - 10:15 am, $10 per person.

Saturday, September 15th
Saturday, October 13th
Saturday, November 17th
Saturday, December 15th

Thursday, September 6, 2012

UCC Peace and Justice

International Day of Prayer for Peace
International Day of Prayers for PeaceSeptember 21st join people of faith worldwide for the 2012 International Day of Prayer for Peace. This year’s theme is “Praying for Ceasefire” and the UCC has signed on with On Earth Peace to encourage churches to host vigils and tweet for peace using #peaceday.

Stages, Phases & Places: The 2012 UCC African American Women in Ministry Conference

African American Women's retreatOctober 11-13 at the Franklinton Center at Bricks (Whitakers, NC) - Join other sisters in ministry (ordained, commissioned, youth ministry, missionaries, in discernment) for a spirit-filled conference to explore more deeply God’s call to you to serve in ministry. Featured preachers are Rev. Susan K. Smith, Dr. Delores Carpenter, and Rev. Neichelle Guidry Jones. Get more info and register.
New UCC Environmental Justice Trainings Scheduled
Environmental Justice Training April 2012The UCC Environmental Justice Center at Pilgrim Firs in Port Orchard, WA will sponsor its second and third training events October 16-18 and November 16-18, 2012. The first event will be for those unable to come on weekends, and the second will be for young adults. The $175 cost includes meals, lodging, and materials. To register, click here. For more information, contact Meighan Pritchard at 206-370-4142.
World Food Day and Food Week of Action
World Food DayWorld Food Day(10/16) & Food Week of Action Oct. 14–21: World Food Day and Food Week of Action are times to celebrate God’s Creation and highlight the role of small farmers and cooperatives in improving food security ending hunger. Join with people and churches around the world in praying and advocating for just food systems a world in which no one hungers.
Missionworks and MMI training
Mission WorksRegister for the Global Ministries ¡Missionworks! 2012 Conference, October 25-27 in Cleveland, OH, followed by an optional Ministries and Mission Interpreters training, October 27-28. Deepen your engagement with global partners, including advocacy with partners on international justice issues.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lovely prayer......

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love— unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
A prayer by Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

UCC Justice and Peace Network

Take action to combat human trafficking!
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is a comprehensive piece of legislation which underwrites U.S. efforts to end all forms of human trafficking. First passed by Congress in 2000, it has been unanimously reauthorized – and strengthened –in 2003, 2005, and 2008. When the TVPRA (s 1301) was introduced in Congress more than a year ago, partisan politics blocked reauthorization and the TVPA expired on October 11, 2011. S 1301 is now moving again through the Senate and a National Call-In Day to advocate support will occur on Tuesday, September 4th.
Urge your Senators to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 1301).
Human TraffickingThe TVPA has provided critical support around the country to put in place protections for victims of human trafficking, coordination among various law enforcement and social services, educational programs to train officials, business owners and the public to recognize the signs of trafficking, and much more. As a result, a growing number of UCC churches are engaged in their own communities to stop modern-day slavery, promote slavery-free products, and support advocacy efforts aimed at stopping these violations of human rights.
The TVPA has helped the U.S. become a global leader in addressing trafficking in persons which has become one of the most lucrative illegal businesses in the world. It ranks in the top three of such enterprises along with the illegal small arms and drug trades. More than anything, poverty and a lack of opportunity to make a sustainable living are the driving forces behind the exploitation of persons. In addition to addressing these driving forces, reauthorization of the TVPA is needed now more than ever to prevent and prosecute modern-day slavery operations worldwide.
The failure of Congress to reauthorize the TVPA is shameful and dangerous, especially for those victimized by such exploitation. Join the National Call-In Day on Tuesday, September 4th and ask your Senators to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 1301). They need to hear from you!