The Truth of Biscuits

baking powder biscuitMy mother used to make the very best baking powder biscuits in the world. Always flaky and light, they never failed to delight me and my father, and lots of others, too.

She left me her recipe, and yesterday I tried it. It worked!

Our oven must be a little hotter because they were overdone in the prescribed time. And they need a little more baking power–it may be the difference between Michigan and Virginia. But they are good. I shall make them again.

I tried the recipe once before, about 15 years ago, right after my mother died. The biscuits did not come out like hers. In fact, they were pretty bad.

I decided I could not make them.

Looking back, I can see that my disappointment had less to do with my skill in making biscuits and more to do with the loss of my mother. But I have lived all these years thinking I cannot do something I wanted to do.

How often do I let a negative experience govern my life? 

Here’s the Biscuit Truth: Learn from disappointments and failures, but let the course of my life be guided by my desires and dreams.

Freedom Still Rings

For a while, I was riding high.

liberty_bell_1In August, daily readership of my humble blog jumped from the 30-50 range to more than 100, sometimes going as high as 150. I was surprised, but certainly happy. What author does not appreciate a growing audience?

Then, the other day, the numbers dropped, precipitously–from 159 on September 16 to 28 on September 19, up a bit to 50 on September 24, back in the 30’s since then.

What is going on, dear readers?

Investigation revealed that a lot of people were checking out July 8, “Let Freedom Ring,” concerning the ringing of the Liberty Bell–the first time in 1776 and then later in the 1960s when lesbian and gay activists began protesting for liberty at the bell.

I guess the excitement has died down.

Does that mean less liberty, fewer rings of the bell, fewer protests?Independence Hall gay rights marker

No way. We’ve just begin to fight for our rights!

And yes, this is a test to see if using the same pictures will bring any of those readers back (I apologize to those who check in here for something fresh . . . . . just a test today).

May your day be filled with joy and hope, and may you feel emboldened to ring the bell of freedom in your life today.

Wisdom, Courage, Grace

special needs childrenI went to Children’s Hospital last evening for a program, “Nurturing the Spiritual Journeys of Children with Special Needs and Their Families.” The heart of the evening was a panel discussion by five parents of special needs children, moderated by Rev. Dr. Cathie Stivers, Chaplain at the hospital.

Oh, the stories these parents can tell! Their wisdom and courage and grace in the face of incredible adversity is stunning.

  • Love the child no matter what
  • The children and their families need a whole village of helpers
  • The road can be rough, but spending whatever time is available with the child is God’s precious gift to us.

Christi and David, parents of Ella who died at three months, said, “We realized we couldn’t fix her, so we trusted God to take care of things so we could just enjoy her.”

Susie, mother of Tyler Marie who died at age 12, said, “You can’t be a parent and love a special needs child, and not feel connection with God.”

Two others spoke of their joy in being able to watch their children grow into adolescence and adulthood, and being able to continue to share life with them.

From the lives of children, and the mouths of parents .  .  .  .  .

Celebrate, Yes! And Agitate, too.

Gay Pride Virginia promises to be a wonderful event at the Gay Community Center of Richmond this Saturday.

As we celebrate ourselves, we also know that the laws in Virginia are not at all favorable, or even neutral, toward LGBT people. We can feel overwhelmed at the difficulties we face on the road to liberation–even when we know, as I do, that those laws will one day be overturned.

It is easy to forget, as we bemoan our own situation, that there are other places where laws are even more repressive and homophobic violence is normal. Like Jamaica.

Check out this video, from Rev. Robert Griffin of Sunshine Cathedral MCC in Ft. Lauderdale. Robert is a dear friend who works closely with our LGBT siblings in Jamaica.

As we in Central Virginia prepare for Gay Pride Virginia this Saturday, let us remember that simply holding a Pride event is a blessing not shared by others. And let us use this event not only to celebrate but also to agitate for change– for ourselves, and for our siblings who are even less free.

A Very Special Day

Do you know how special today is?

Of course, many people claim today as their birthday (Bruce Springsteen is 60!) and others mark anniversaries of other kinds (Sigmund Freud died in 1939). Plenty of historical events, too (Richard Nixon gave his famous “Checkers Speech in 1952–just think what might NOT have happened if his speech had bombed).

But those are not the reasons today is special.

fall road pictureToday is special because it is the only day we have. And we are alive to enjoy it.

Sure, the world is in a mess. My study is a mess. Those two things are hardly on the same scale, but they both cause distress (for me, at least). I am sure you can come up with some troubles of your own.

But God created us, you and me, and we are able to write and read this, and do many things that without life would be denied to us.

So, here’s to life!

Enjoy it. Today.

Of Questions and Answers

question mark lightningA wise teacher told me long ago, “By their questions, you shall know them.”  If we are to gain in wisdom, and spiritual knowledge, we must ask questions.

Sometimes, we ask in frustration or anger or crisis–why God did you allow this bad thing to happen? Sometimes, we ask from curiosity or gentle concern–how do we read the Bible without picking up some of the negativity contained in it?

God loves it when we care enough to question, to doubt. It means that we actually experience relationship with Him.

God asks questions, too. She wants us to answer. Actually, God wants dialogue.

But that dialogue often is marked by long silences.

I remember an old man in the small town in which I grew up. He did not say much, and if I asked him a question, he took a long time to answer. In the meantime, he would alternately gaze off in the distance and at me. His looking at me often made me squirm. He seemed to see right through me.

But he had the most interesting things to say. The wait was nearly always rewarded.

Its like that with God.

Happy Days

Celebrating 12 years of marital happiness usually does not draw a big celebration–not like 10 or 25 or 50.

040But for some reason, this one feels especially good to me. Jonathan and I celebrate today (and we remember that we were friends for six years before, so we have been in each other’s lives for 18 years).

We have no big plans, just meeting for dinner tonight at our favorite diner, Joe’s Inn on Shields Street. Sometimes, it is just the simple, comfortable things that feel right.

I also think I am feeling especially good because I sense a shifting tide in the country, indeed in the world. I truly believe that we will be legally married in Virginia in 10, or 15, years. Maybe even sooner.

We debate going to Maine or another New England state to do this, and we may. But I know it will matter most when we can do it at home.

The truth is, of course, that whatever the authorities say, we are married. God brought us together, and God blesses us today.

That is more than enough reason to celebrate. I may even eat dessert!

Notes that Matter

What would life be without the piano?

I have been thinking about this as we welcome a new pianist to our church–Yulia Roubtsova is a highly talented Russian, trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Her husband also is a pianist, teaching in the Music Department at Virginia Commonwealth University.

My husband also is an accomplished pianist, having played in piano bars in New York, and at Art 6 in Richmond and also at our church.

grand pianoWe have been without the services of a regular pianist for about two months (we did have a couple of great subs, but mostly we went without).  Until Yulia played for service recently, I had been bravely pretending we were okay. But just hearing the first notes Sunday morning brought tears to my eyes.

Today, in 1763, the first piano was built in the United States. It was a sign of growing sophistication in the colonies.

I took the piano for granted, until we didn’t have it. I am glad we will receive our weekly dose. Funny how some things make such a difference.

Life is better now, note by note.

You Are the Light of the World

Attitude is key.

  • I can allow myself be a victim of circumstances or I can see difficulty as an opportunity for creativity and transformation–at least of me.
  • When I feel overwhelmed by others and their needs, I can choose to cherish the intimacy they offer and find God in what we share.
  • When all seems lost, I can grab the chance to go to God in need and prayer, and be grateful for God’s presence in my life.
  • When guilt or shame seems ready to wipe away the rest of me, I can remember that I am created in God’s image.

Sure, changing attitudes can be tough, especially when we need it most. But it is worth the struggle.

sunshine outLife with a positive attitude is so much richer, more whole, than the other way. What kind of person do you want most to be around, and to be?

God gives us the free will to create our own attitudes. And God gives us enough gifts every day from which we can fashion a good, if not great, attitude.

Let the light shine through you today.

“NO!” to Hate

Another gay man has been brutally murdered in Jamaica. John Terry, 65, was a British diplomat living in Jamaica.

His crime? Being gay, and being active in helping the local LGBT movement gain strength. For that, he was severely beaten and a cord was tied around his neck.

This is why we call attention to the singing of Buju Banton, the reggae singer who spouts homophobic lyrics that include death threats against “batty boys” (Jamaican slang for gay men), and oppose his singing in Richmond and Norfolk.

The National cancelled his appearance in Richmond, but now he is scheduled to appear at The Hat Factory (formerly Toad’s Place) in Shockoe Slip in Richmond.  You can call them to register your request that they cancel the show, 804/788-4281.

And check out this video from Sunshine Cathedral MCC in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where the pastor, Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins asks for prayers for the LGBT folks of Jamaica. The global MCC movement, through staff from Sunshine Cathedral, provides ongoing financial, spiritual, and leadership support to the LGBT rights movement in Jamaica.

God calls upon all people, and certainly people of faith, to speak up against hate–and to pray for all kinds of love.