Archive | June, 2011

Zeal and explosives

20 Jun

Yesterday was another fun day in the Uniteen/YOU class.

We have been working through the 12 powers and we have made it to zeal. I know, I know, all the powers are meant to be used together, but Zeal (also called enthusiasm) is a power that I am often accused of having a lot of, and really, it’s a favorite.

After we had talked about zeal some, we went outside to make a little experiment. Vinegar, dish soap and food coloring was added to each plastic water bottle. Then baking soda was placed in a tissue and put in the bottle. As the chemical reaction did its thing, our bottles began to foam and overflow.   Nothing very surprising there. We talked about how we can have too little, just the right amount of things going on or too many things. Overzealous can get messy.

Then, just like an episode of Mythbusters, we went extreme. The teens noticed that we hadn’t done a red one and since we still had a bottle we had to do that one too. And they wanted to know what would happen if we put the lid on… SO, that’s what we did, and the lid was screwed on REAL tight.

We watched and waited. Bubbles formed, eventually it fell over because the bottom had expanded. And still we waited. Some of the teens wanted to kick it or something, but I wasn’t going to let that happen so I thought, well hey, if I just unscrew the top a smidge it will let off the pressure and all will be well. That is NOT how it happened, I turned that lid a smidge and pink vinegar foam went everywhere! My car, the side of the youth ed building, and oh yes, me, got bathed. (you can kinda see the bottom of my pants are all pink. The shirt hid the pink well.)While being sprayed by explosive pink vinegar solution is not on my recommended list, it surely holds a great lesson.

There are choices, we can live like the bottles before the baking soda, room to move around and stable but boring as well. We can be like the uncapped bottles and sometimes overflow with too much but after a while it fizzles out and we start they cycle again. Or we can cap up our lives and eventually the only possible thing to happen is an explosion.

We talked about how zeal works so well in partnership with other powers. We need wisdom and understanding to know when it’s time to spring forth into action and when it’s not. We need will to stay the course. We need love to direct our zeal in life affirming ways. But the most powerful thing for me was our discussion of power and zeal.

Life feels intense when you’re a teen, and not much less as an adult. (really, it’s just that we have hopefully learned to manage the extremes better). It is just as easy to get worked up into a frenzy over wining a ball game as it is over a former friend saying something mean. So we have to learn healthy ways to let the pressure off so we aren’t like the red bottle with no release. We can use power through our words to create more peace or more chaos. Miranda said that she is the person her friends go to when they are upset and she lets them take off the pressure so that they can face the situation calmly.

We can also use the power of our words and thoughts to continue to add more and more fuel to the raging fire. I have had that experience where someone started raging against a perceived ‘wrong’ on my behalf, and I had already gotten over it. If I hadn’t, it might have caused me a lot of stress and angst.

As I said, I love zeal, and it’s a delicate balance. Without passion and enthusiasm, we are like the bottle without baking soda, Just chillin’ and not getting anywhere. In the right dose, you get a party simmering and are propelled to move, there is a balance of overflow and underflow that has a natural cycle. What happened with the red bottle is a perfect example of having enthusiasm and not having a adequate release or venue for it.

It was a great day and a great reminder, one none of us will forget anytime soon.


My Dad

19 Jun

Today is Father’s day and as I woke up this morning I got to thinking about all the great ways my dad has been my dad and I wanted to share them.

Some of my earliest memories of my dad include him sitting in a lawn chair watching my dance performance in the front yard the moment he got home from work before he even got to go inside. I remember him building things and getting to help. We’d always sing in the car, my dad loves to sing silly songs and create harmonies.

I called him Buddy back then (which I spelled Bude). On the occasion I would go into the office with him, I would use all the highlighters and flow chart templates to make him art that would stay pinned up in his cube for years.

I remember the peaceful look on his face when we’d rise to sing the Lord’s Prayer at church. I remember Dad and Mom tucking me in at night with the affirmation “Rachel is a perfect intelligent child of God and Mommy and Daddy love her.” When I was older I would get up early to go to school and dad would be sitting in the living room meditating.

I think of my dad’s love of words and puns and scrabble. It’s funny that someone who loves words so much has a kid who can’t spell, but dictionaries are allowed when the Simpson family plays scrabble, so I did ok. Card games are also a favored way to hang out with my dad.

When I was young, it was dance performances, as I got older I had square dance practices, and choir performances and theatre shows. My dad was there. Always with a proud look on his face always picking up some tidbit that I hadn’t noticed. He drove my friends and I around to our various activities, he was the goofy sweet dad.

When I broke my arm and needed something to help me keep it elevated, he went to his scrap pile and emerged with an adjustable set-up that utilized at least 2 old projects.

Recently I learned that as soon as I was born I started raising Holy Hell, and my dad was there walking me back and forth while the doctors got my mom put back together. That tenderness and love for me has never wavered.

I could go on and on, but I’ll conclude with a list of some things I learned from my dad:

  • A love for Jazz music, particularly Dave Brubeck
  • Songs are a great basis to start a parody song from (it is a talent I am proud to have)
  • Reuse, repurpose, recycle
  • Faith
  • How to ride a bike
  • appriciate the beauty of the world
  • Work together to make a family/life/world that works
  • It’s good to be silly!
  • Teddy Bears make great voices if you listen.

I love you Daddy, you’re the best daddy for me 🙂

Love, Bude

This is Dad and I at the waterfall at Unity Village when he came to visit in 2009


3 Jun

When I was at the Uniteen overnight a couple weeks ago we did a exercise where we said “I’ll never forget…” and filled in the blank. I shared an experience that has become an essential part of my way of understanding the world. I thought I’d share it here with commentary.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.

It is a place that is beautiful wherever you look.

This is a picture from the road I took a zillion times going between my best friend Zeb’s and my house when I was in high school. (photo borrowed from Zeb)

But following dreams and in search of adventure after college I moved to Chicago. In October. Right after the Cubs lost their chance at the World Series (big surprise I know ;-)) So it was a bleak

and getting bleaker time to move to a new place, let alone a huge concrete city. There was a lot going on in my life

for sure, but it felt like a very cold, dark, unfriendly place as the winter wore on.  I missed mountains and ferryboats.

The beginning of spring came along and I was seeing concrete. Then one day I’m walking home and I saw it, a little white flower poking through the sidewalk.

WOAH! it hit me there in that moment.

Back home in Washington it was easy to see and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world. This flower came along to remind me that just because it’s not obvious doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

Life is beautiful and will push on regardless of any seeming barriers. (this is not the flower in Chicago, I took this in San Diego and has long been a reminder to me of that experience)

So then I decided to love Chicago for what it was, not what it was missing. I would remind myself of the flower and know I had to deepen my faith instead of relying on it being easy to trust in the beauty of God

Then I moved out here to Missouri. Sigh, another adjustment. While being at Unity Village was wonderful the  suburban nature of Lee’s Summit was so not working on my psyche. Then a local group of NGUers went on a mini retreat at the Light Center outside of Baldwin KS. (which is south of Lawrence KS) The Light Center is a beautiful rustic place set in the woods. We participated in a sweat lodge and slept in a yurt. We explored the woods and we saw creeks and hills and lots of woods, and this is where I learned to be ‘good’ with MO/KS. (this pic is one I took on our adventure) Somehow knowing a place as serene as the Light Center existed less than 2 hours away gave me the boost I needed to accept that I didn’t need mountains, evergreen trees or large bodies of water to make me happy.

My happiness comes from a choice I have made to see look for the beauty that is there instead of the things that are missing. Maybe this is partially why I take so many pictures, it reminds me of how wonderful the world is when we appreciate the small blessings instead of needing a mountain. (literally or figuratively)

Now, people ask me where I am going to go when I get ordained. (like I could really know what community would be ripe for me to serve in 2 years) Because of these experiences, I have decided that I could get used to and appreciate just about anywhere. (I do have some lines, but I suppose most anything is negotiable)

What I now know is that the beauty of a place is in the eye of the beholder. Change your perspective, change your life.

As Mister Rodgers always said, “it’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood”



(PS, those are the San Juan islands behind me in 2009)