PSA Week: Microfinance

I learned about microfinance a couple of years ago when I worked with a woman who had lived in South Africa. Here's the idea: there are entrepreneurs all over the developing world who need just a tiny bit of help to get their businesses off the ground. You're not donating (though you can), you're investing very small sums of money (often $25) in efforts that help people become self-sufficient.

I lend through Kiva, but there are others out there.

Friday Five: Labor Day Edition

Singing Owl gives us this fun Friday Five:

Here in the USA we are celebrating the last fling of the good ol' summertime. It is Labor Day weekend, and families are camping, playing in the park, swimming, grilling hotdogs in the backyard, visiting amusement parks and zoos and historical sites and outdoor concerts and whatever else they can find to help them extend summer's sun and play just a little bit longer.It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth neices and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
The worst job I ever had was working as a secretary in someone's at-home business. He was really nuts, and had a short fuse (with unexpected triggers).

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
The one I have right now. I love it. I work for a non-profit, have a fabulous boss, fun coworkers (for the most part), and I'm getting some really interesting stuff to work on.

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
Well, splitting my time between college chaplaincy and parish ministry would be one option. The other? I think I could have a heck of a lot of fun in politics.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
I got several breaks! We took a very belated honeymoon in June. A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend with one of my favorite girlfriends in Dayton. And this afternoon, Mr. M and I are leaving for North Carolina to visit our friend Tom, who likes to say that we went to college together, 20 miles and 50 years apart. (His college, class of '49, my college, class of '01)
This has maybe been the best summer I've ever had. I've had half days on Fridays, and I've spent a lot of mini-breaks at Longwood Gardens. Sitting in front of fountains, treehouses, waterfalls, and formal gardens with the wonderful collection of Love Poems from God has been an incredible break for me. Now that I think about it, my current blog background is from Longwood!

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
Well, today is my last summer 1/2 day Friday, so that will change. I'm not sure yet what else will change, but I know that I have an either/or in front of me in terms of ministry formation, so we'll see what that holds.
This is the first year I've not dreaded fall. I love the warmth of summer, the long bright days, all the outdoor playtime. This year I feel like I'm not still hungry for the season as it ends. I'm comfortable, but full.

Bonus question: For the gals who are mothers, do you have an interesting story about labor and delivery (LOL)? If you are a guy pal, not a mom, or you choose not to answer the above, is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?
Well, I haven't been in labor, but my mom's story is that when she got the epidural that she didn't want in the first place (her mother insisted, and that's who the doc took orders from), all it did was numb her left leg.


PSA Week:
Furry Needs Day

In honor of Fish and Whistle's birthday, and also Mindy's new baby, today's PSA is for the Humane Society.

OK, also because when Mr. M caught on to the fact that I'm doing a series of Public Service Announcements, he very sweetly requested that I include the Humane Society.

We have a HUGE problem with feral cats in our county. There just aren't nearly enough homes for the numbers of cats, so I remind you: spay and neuter your pets!


We Interupt These Public Service Announcements For Your Regularly Scheduled Broadcasting

I just read something over at Mercenary Presbyter's blog that was so important I had to rush right over here and share.

She says, "If there's one thing I learned from Dr. Rick Carlson at LTSG, it's talk to everyone because you never know what the Holy Spirit might have in mind."

Holy Mackerel!!!

For YEARS! I've felt that chatting things out with other people was a weakness, and what I "should" really be doing when at a crossroads is to shut myself in a room with God. That is helpful and important, but maybe, just maybe... the Holy Spirit has more ways of working that just that.

Marvelous. What a liberating perspective. Now, as I try to find my way at my present crossroads, I can embrace God's work in it a little better. And I can look forward to talking to some wonderful people, instead of being embarrassed by that need.

PSA: Rosalind Wiseman

Today's PSA is for the Owning Up curriculum by Rosalind Wiseman. You might recognize the name from the book, Queen Bees and Wannabes or from the very popular, Mean Girls. A girlfriend of mine (from middle school-- wow) teaches this curriculum to students. She's been really excited by the results and relationships she's seen come out of it. Here's a little description from Ms. Wiseman's website:

The Owning Up™ program is based on the premise that social cruelty, degradation,and violence can be deconstructed and understood by examining how our culture teaches boys to be men and girls to be women. Further, the curriculum teaches
children the skills to speak out against injustice and recognize that they have
a responsibility to treat themselves and others with dignity.

I'm sharing this with a mostly church-y readership because there are so many houses of worship that talk about youth ministry as something we do to kids, rather than for kids (and certainly not by kids). Kids don't have it easy. Being a teenager is actually pretty hard. Wouldn't it be great if we respected that, and helped provide some support? I'm the last person to suggest coddling anyone, but I'd love to teach kids how to empower themselves and others. And frankly, I don't think it's a big leap from there, to teaching them about how God empowers all of us.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.


PSA Week: Bread for the World

While I've got your attention, I figured we'd keep up the theme of "good stuff people are doing out there."

One of my very favorite girlfriends has recently taken a job with Bread for the World (you'll see in the sidebar I've added a link to their main page, and also one to their blog).

I wasn't really sure what they did until I went to see her in Dayton a few weeks ago. (In all fairness, I may still not be totally sure what they do.) Just as a start, I think I can boil it down to this:

In many of our churches, we offer winter homeless shelters, we volunteer to serve meals at shelters, we donate canned goods to local food banks. Those are all important things to do, they have to be done, but they're band-aids on the bigger problem of poverty and hunger. Getting rid of hunger requires systemic change. That's where Bread comes in. Through advocacy, education, and direct lobbying of government officials, we can make policy changes. (This is, after all, a government for the people, by the people, and of the people.) Oh, and Bread for the World is completely non-partisan.

If you might be interested in contacting someone to speak with your congregation, or would just like more information than I can give you, here's a list of representatives.

PS- The esteemed Sarah Rohrer, MDiv, tells me that I only forgot one thing: their current election work to go out and ask questions at town hall meetings on behalf of poor and hungry people to get that on candidates' radars. Important stuff, too.


PSA Week: Village Health Works

I got a message via Facebook last week that a good friend from college will be in Burundi for several weeks, offering medical care to a country that is regularly listed as one of the ten poorest in the world.

Take a minute to check out what Andrew is doing. A few prayers might be in order, too.

PS- I just did a little fishing around, and discovered that those who are interested may support Village Health Works financially. Information about donations can be found here.


Inquiring Minds Are Rewarded for Their Patience

I am pleased to tell you that Wednesday was a very good day. The weather was beautiful, and I had about ten minutes to sit with God by the river before I went in to speak with the bishop. We met for about an hour, and traffic home was light enough that I was able to debrief with Mr. M for about an hour before heading off to see my spiritual director. She and I had a really wonderful session that was supportive and insightful and fantastic.

I felt very calm and centered all day. A chaplain once asked my mother if she would be more willing to listen to her gut feelings if she thought they might be the nudge of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, I was able to listen to my gut all day, and felt an enormous amount of peace. I felt like I processed with integrity after the meeting, rather than processing with self-doubt. The three words that a wonderful friend shared with me when I told him about it were "Integrity, Liberation, and Regeneration."

God was with me all day, and I was able to be aware of it, and find joy in it. I'll write about what I think might come next later, but for now, all is well.


Our Fair Readers Consider the Curious Lack of a Soundtrack

And this author provides it for them.

I've been listening to this a lot this week. I had a really good day yesterday.


And now, for a commercial break

It may be a week. I have an appointment with my bishop tomorrow, and my mom flies in on Thursday.

I'm much more comfortable with myself and my call than I was the last time I met with anyone official, but I'm still feeling a bit scared of The Process. He and I will be meeting one-on-one, which has never happened (usually one's rector is present, or in the other instance, the large Commission on Ministry). Please hold me in your prayers. Mostly, I just want to feel held close to God in this-- the rest isn't particularly important. I know myself well enough to know that perspective and trust can be hard with people who outrank me. Hard to trust myself, hard to remember that God is bigger than The System. (My bishop seems to be a very good person, I just don't know him at all well. I don't always feel clearly heard, and The Process has been a bit rough at times.) I feel like I'm headed to Oz.

And the last several visits with my mom have not gone at all smoothly, so please keep me in your prayers there, too. She'll fly in Thursday, and head back on Sunday.

Thanks, guys.

Update-- Last night, as I was falling asleep, I heard that funny, cliched question all Spiritual Directors ask: Where is God in this? I thought about it for a while, and came to the conclusion that not only was I going to be OK, but that all is well.


In Which Mrs. M Succumbs to the Natives

I have lived in this very Amish county for 6 years now (wow-- how did that happen?! By far the longest I've lived anywhere...), but I've been very unsure about some of the local food. Potpie with no crust, shoofly pie (both the "wet" and "dry" varieties), and a bizarre compulsion to season only with salt and ketchup have all left me a little reluctant. Which is why I had never tasted a whoopie pie. (Also, I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and am by nature a pretty healthy eater.)

So this morning, when a coworker's birthday treat was Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting, I was uncertain. I thought I'd try it, because I believe in trying things before deciding on them. But I was bracing myself. The middle is gooey! They look like something Hostess would sell!

But they are magnificent. A little zing in the cinnamon. That wonderful trace of tartness in the cream cheese frosting. This is some tasty stuff, people.

But I draw the line at scrapple.


Friday Five: Lockdown!

Lately, it feels like the Friday Five have been written just for me, so that I can go around and see things I need. This week is no different.

Songbird has this offering:

For some reason, Blogger declared this blog possible SPAM and locked us down yesterday. This morning, we're free to post again, but there was a fair amount of excitement last night among our contributors, who found a dire notice on their Blogger dashboards threatening that this blog might be deleted in 20 days!We requested a blog review, and I posted a request at the Blogger Help group, where I found we were not alone. Many other perfectly nourishing and cromulent blogs got the same notice last night.This turned out to be a very small barricade in our blogging community life, but it seemed appropriate to explore locks and blocks and other barriers this week. Also, I liked the picture of the security team above! Could they be Blogger's Spam Prevention Robots, working overtime?In honor of their efforts, I bring you the "Lock Me Out, Lock Me In" Friday Five.

1) How do you amuse yourself when road construction blocks your travel?
Mostly, I channel-surf on the radio. I think this makes my hubby nuts, but he's pretty laid back about it. If I can sing with the radio, all kinds of stress goes away.

2) Have you ever locked yourself out of your house? (And do you keep an extra key somewhere, just in case?)
By which I mean, yes. Once, when Mr. M and I were dating, we got snowed in at his apartment. We realized we couldn't drive anywhere, so we walked to a video store before too much snow fell. UNFORTUNATELY, there was a hole in his pocket. His keys were lost in the snow. We drove veeeeeeery slowly and veeeeeeeeeery carefully to his friend's house, hoping he still had a key from the last time he cat-sat. No dice. So we drove veeeeeeeeery carefully and veeeeeeeeery slowly back home, where we had to break a window.
Now, of course, it's a funny story.

3) Have you ever cleared a hurdle? (And if you haven't flown over a material hurdle, feel free to take this one metaphorically.)
You know what? There was a big one that I thought I'd cleared, but I feel like maybe my toe caught and I haven't made it quite over yet. Graduating college was tricky for me (my hurdle), and since the University holds one of my loans, I can't have my transcripts until it's paid off. (This may explain the recurring anxiety dream where I'm back in college, and all of a sudden there's a class I didn't realize I had to go to...) It's making seminary feel like a huge hurdle, and I'm finally starting to try to bring it to God.

4) What's your approach to a mental block?
Baby steps, I think. The first step on something I don't want to do (or am afraid of) is always hardest. If I can get someone to hold my hand (and hold me in prayer), that's even better.

5) Suggest a caption for the picture above; there will be a prize for the funniest answer!
*sigh* I don't have any funny today. Sorry, guys. I'll look forward to reading other funny, tho!