Monday, March 22, 2010

Key provisions of health care overhaul bill | | The Detroit News

Key provisions of health care overhaul bill | | The Detroit News

Some good information about the bill that was passed last night. Personally, I don't think that it goes far enough, as I'm one of those folks who favors a single-payer system, but I'm thankful that something is being done. Extending medical insurance to an additional 12% of Americans is definitely A Good Thing.

The primary reason that I (and many others) voted for President Obama was to see change brought to our failing health care system. While I don't believe this is a full fix, I am thankful that he and others in Congress made the bold choice to work to bring this to fruition. I believe there is still work to be done, but I am thankful that some were willing to stick their necks out to see that the least of these are able to receive some kind of coverage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Links

In light of my husband's recent blog post, I've added a few new links to my blogroll.

Jason came out to me about six months ago, and these sites have provided me with some interesting food for thought. Again, I would highly, highly recommend Hemant Mehta's book to anyone wanting an honest, respectful look at Christianity from someone outside of the faith. I have also found his blog to be a (mostly) respectful place on the web. It's definitely an atheist site, but for the most part, I find it to be a welcoming place. I was able to ask a question there and received numerous kind and thoughtful responses.

I also stumbled across The Thomas Society. It's a group of both Christians and atheists who have a bit of a running dialog about their faith and non-faith. Tremendously respectful (though at times a bit more intelligent a discussion than I can follow!) and well put-together. I have not participated beyond being a reader there, but it's been very educational for me as I've sorted through all of this. And it's shown me, yet again, that there can be respectful dialog between those who are Christian and those who are atheists.

One last blog that has been really helpful for me as I deal with some of my own doubts/fears/frustrations about a number of issues (not just living in an inter-faith marriage, but sorting through some of my thoughts about other tough things like evolution, homosexuality, being a Democrat <----okay that's a joke!) has been Rachel Held Evans's blog. She echoes my thoughts pretty darn closely, and FAR more eloquently. This one is a Christian community, however I have seen a few atheists and agnostics post there as well.

I would encourage anyone who has questions to check out some of these sites, pick up Hemant's book, or drop us a line/give us a call. Like I've been saying here for a little while, talking about these (and other) things can be uncomfortable, but understanding and common ground is possible and certainly desirable. And to those who have already contacted us, your friendship and support means the world to us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Musical Monday

Anyone who has read more than a couple of entries here knows that authentic relationship is a common theme around here. Heck, I think that previous sentence might be a theme around here!

My friend Tina and I have an on-going dialog about discussing difficult issues. That sometimes the not talking about things can be as damaging as hate-filled screeds. I love the line from Inherit the Wind when Bryan says, "I do not think about the things I don't think about." It's unfortunate, but so often we fall into that trap. If something isn't directly on our radar or causes us some discomfort to analyze, we simply don't think about it. And it we're not thinking about it, we're certainly not talking about it. And if we're not talking about it, we're relegating it to something "unmentionable" and therefore bad. And the cycle of fear and avoidance continues. In the meantime, people hurt in isolation, and our relationships aren't all that they could be.

Today's song illustrates this "not talking" that we do better than any that I've heard. I've listened to it numerous times and I still have a tendency to well up at the final lines, "I don't need another reason I should care about you. You don't want to know my story. You don't want to own my pain." Ouch. I think when we choose to ignore some of the issues facing people, it can be a way of ignoring the people themselves. If we want to create real, genuine, authentic relationships, we need to be willing to address everything that is important to someone, not just what we feel comfortable discussing.

Here's "Headphones" by Jars of Clay.

I don’t have to hear it, if I don’t want to
I can drown this out, pull the curtains down on you
It’s a heavy world, it’s too much for me to care
If I close my eyes, it’s not there

With my headphones on, with my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

We watch television...but the sound is something else
Just a song played against the drama, so the hurt is never felt
I take in the war-fires, and I’m chilled by the current events
It’s so hopeless, but there’s a pop song in my

Headphones on, in my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

At the Tube Stop, you sit down across from me
(I can see you looking back at me)
I think I know you
By the sad eyes that I see
I want to tell you (It’s a heavy world)
Everything will be okay
You wouldn’t hear it (I don’t want to have to hear it)
So we go our separate ways…

With our headphones on, with our headphones on
With our headphones on, with our headphones on
I don’t wanna be the one who tries to figure it out
I don’t need another reason I should care about you
You don’t want to know my story
You don’t want to own my pain
Living in a heavy, heavy world
And there’s a pop song in my head
I don’t want to have to hear it

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Out of Touch

A few days ago, one of my bandmates called to ask about some arrangement issues with one of the songs we're working up. I was on the clock for West, so I wasn't able to answer the call, but I was able to shoot him a message on facebook to let him know that I could talk in another hour or so. Then I thought that maybe he wasn't at the computer which was why he was calling, so I sent him a text with the same info. We got a laugh out of me being "unavailable" at the same time I was completely available on the internet and by text.

Another friend and I have been lamenting our inability to hang out in person. Lately we've been talking almost every day and we definitely communicate in some fashion every day (yay!), but it's been months since we've been able to visit in person and share a Christian Side Hug (TM) and a cup of coffee. I love that we're so in touch right now, but it reminds me how much I would love to get together and spend some time visiting.

Jason and I have been ships passing in the night a bit lately. We were able to carve out some good time this weekend to just snuggle up together and actually BE together, but after a few days of not really spending any time together at all, we could both feel how much we needed to make that connection a priority.

What strikes me the most about this is that these are all people that I communicate with very regularly. But sometimes we just need MORE. A conversation that can't be fully expressed with just words on a screen. A physical interaction that can't be conveyed over the phone or in the five minute hand-off between work and school and rehearsals. Even if we're in touch, there's still something missing until we connect on a more personal level.

I've been thinking about this and how I think it relates to the church. Sometimes I think that the Church can be out of touch. I don't mean that it's not cool and with it. But rather that it can be out of touch with the needs of the people. We who make up the Church can be out of touch with the needs of those around us. We can get caught up in serving in the church or devoting ourselves to a particular doctrine or following a particular political ideology and the next thing we know, we're not actually dealing with people in any kind of meaningful way, but rather simply living parallel lives. We listen to the same music, but we don't discuss what it is about it that moves us. We like the same television shows, but we don't talk about how they make us reflect on our own lives. We poke and give virtual flowers on facebook, but we don't offer a hug or a stick of gum when we're together in real life. We'll rant on a blog about the church not offering help, but not knock on the neighbor's door with a plate of cookies and a visit.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us who the Church is and what the Church does. I think the next time that I'm feeling grumpy about the church, this list is going to be where I start looking. If I'm not doing this, then I'm not being the church myself and I'm not in touch either.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Musical Monday

In just a few short days, we get to take the kids to their first They Might Be Giants concert. We're all super-stoked about it. I've been to a couple of their adult shows, and I'm really excited that they're doing a family show up in Pittsburgh. In preparation, we've been watching all of our kid DVDs and listening to lots of TMBG in the car.

And since we're at the beginning of another week, I thought today I'd post the Johns' take on the Seven Days of the Week. This is by far the ear-wormiest song that they do, in my opinion. Jason can start to hum just the first line of this, and it's in my brain for the rest of the day. Fortunately, that's not the worst ear-worm out there!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Hi there!

Just saying hi if anyone from Hemant's blog pops over here. I hope that I'm a friendly Christian in the way that Hemant is a friendly atheist. I love to dialog with folks from all walks of life. I think we're all a lot more alike than we are different and I think that finding those similarities helps us all be better people.

Hope to see you around!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Just catching up

Nothing exciting to talk about today, so I'll just catch up on the goings on around here. Taking a couple months off from posting put me pretty far behind on the family updates.

Anyway, kids first:

Deborah -- Doing well this year. School is getting increasingly more challenging, which is a good thing, and she seems to be handling that quite well. She's been involved in all kinds of outside events, including Math Field Day, the Social Studies Fair & the Spelling Bee. Not as successful in moving on in those as she would have liked, but it was still an honor to participate in them. She had a great time doing it. The other big news is that she is still "dating" (apparently that's what they call it these days -- for those of us who are older, it would be more like "going together/going steady") her little boyfriend. They've been together 6 months and have gone on one date to McDonald's, supervised by me and his grandparents. It's all very cute. He treats his grandparents very well and he's been nothing but sweet to my daughter, so all is well on that front! She is also involved in the church youth group, called dv8 and is preparing to participate in the 30 Hour Famine. She started it last week, but the weather got bad, so they postponed the weekend. I'm sure it's going to be an amazing event for her to be a part of.

James -- Has also had a good year. School is going well for him, though we did have to be a little more diligent on watching that all assignments are completed after an incomplete assignment in the first quarter dropped one of his grades way below where it otherwise should have been. But aside from that, he's been doing well. We're starting to prepare for the Westest here in a couple of months, though I won't see results on that until the beginning of next year, I believe. He's deeply into Pokemon at the moment and any time he gets a little extra money from something, he ends up spending it on new Pokemon cards. It's hard for me to imagine that those things are still around, but they are, and he's becoming the expert on them!

Faith -- Has been somewhat ambivalent about this year. She really likes a number of her classmates, but had a hard time warming up to her teacher. That seems to be better now, but it was a bit of a rough start. Academically, she's doing very well, but she's tremendously shy, so her teacher suggested maybe waiting another year or two before testing for the gifted program. Her concern is that her shyness will keep her from answering questions to her full potential, so we're just putting that on the back-burner for now. With both of her older siblings in that program, I'm sure that's a bit of motivation for her as well, so we just try to keep her talking, which isn't always easy. One thing she does love to talk about is the Rainbow Magic books by "Daisy Meadows." She absolutely loves them and has been collecting them like crazy. I get to hear lots about fairies and goblins from her and her active imagination!

Christopher -- First grade has been a bit of an adjustment from kindergarten, but overall he seems to be doing well. His handwriting still needs a lot of work, but it has definitely improved from the beginning of the year. The biggest thing that we need to watch with him is that he pays closer attention. If we're practicing spelling words verbally, he can rattle them off without a thought, but when he gets writing them, he tends to leave out letters and ends up getting them wrong. I think when we practice we just need to do it the way that he will do it on the test. Socially he's doing well, but he still says that James is his "best brother -- he's my best friend AND my brother!" It's unbelievably sweet. He also loves Pokemon and loves trading cards with James. It's very fun.

Jason -- At the mid-point in his first semester back to school and is doing VERY well. I'm so proud of him! He has done better on nearly all of the exams and papers than he expected, and even in his most difficult class, he's doing well. He is on the night shift at work now and works from 9:30pm to 6am. It's not ideal, but honestly, he's a night guy anyway, so it seems to be working out for him. It definitely requires us to be much more intentional about spending time together when we can between homework, sleep, school & work, but for the most part I think we're making it work for our family. It will be a tough 2 years, but given how long he has wanted to finish his degree, I think this is the best thing that we can do.

Me -- Busy, busy, busy. And loving it. I started a new short-term project at the end of last year for work, and got picked up for the long-term project with the same company and I really enjoy it. My hours are all in the morning, M-F and it's just really good. I'm still terrible at sales, but I love actually helping people, and this job offers me opportunity to do that. I'm also still playing at church, which is great. I've had some really encouraging conversations there that have done wonders to heal old wounds not just from our prior church experience, but also some old, old, old stuff that I hadn't realized was still festering around. It's been incredibly positive. Additionally, I'm really involved in our cover band Under Shelter. We've done a bit of a marketing blitz and have started booking a number of gigs for this year. My summer weekends are quickly filling up with weddings in the tri-state area. It's very exciting and a bit surreal to be doing this now, considering I was never much for the performance side of music!

I think that little overview should get you a bit more up to date on what's new with our family. As always, feel free to drop me a line or shoot me a message on facebook!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Musical Monday

Today is more about aesthetics than about lyrical content. We just finished watching two weeks of Olympics and my favorite athletes are the ones who exude just sheer joy in what they do. For me today, this piece takes me back to a place of sheer musical joy.

When I was in college, friends and I would make relatively regular trips to Pittsburgh for various musical experiences. Almost every Monday some friends and I went to a Pittsburgh bar to listen to the live jazz band that played there. And fairly often a group of us would drive into the city to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

On one of the trips to the PSO, we got to see Orff's Carmina Burana conducted by Lorin Maazel. It was absolutely stunning. This was before O Fortuna had been killed by a thousand sports commercials and it was just a magical evening. We had spectacular seats for watching the orchestra, but honestly, I had my eyes closed and enjoyed the music that way most of the evening.

My favorite piece is a short baritone solo near the beginning of the third movement called Dies, nox et omnia. It requires the full range of the singer and is just absolutely heart-breaking when performed well (and no doubt heart-breaking when not performed well also, though for completely different reasons). Anyway, enjoy! And do what brings you joy!

Dies, nox et omniaDay, night and everything
michi sunt contraria;is against me,
virginum colloquiathe chattering of maidens
me fay planszer,makes me weep,
oy suvenz suspirer,and often sigh,
plu me fay temer.and, most of all, scares me.
O sodales, ludite,O friends, you are making fun of me,
vos qui scitis diciteyou do not know what you are saying,
michi mesto parcite,spare me, sorrowful as I am,
grand ey dolur,great is my grief,
attamen consuliteadvise me at least,
per voster your honour.
Tua pulchra faciesYour beautiful face,
me fay planszer milies,makes me weep a thousand times,
pectus habet glacies.your heart is of ice.
A remenderAs a cure,
statim vivus fieremI would be revived
per un baser.

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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