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An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

Great read.

Trinity's Portico

Dear Frank

Can I call you Frank? This is just pastor to pastor. Feel free to call me Peter. Anyway, I have to say I was flattered when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t…

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The Sky is Not Falling

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. While many people applauded this decision (including me), there sure were a lot of haters. You would’ve thought SCOTUS decreed everyone must now marry a donkey and worship the devil by some of the reactions. Christians are being persecuted! This is an attack on religion/family values/straight people!

People, calm down. Carry on. The sky is not falling.

I grew up in the church. Papa was a preacher (an ordained Episcopal priest). Baptized and confirmed, spent most every Sunday in church, served as an acolyte, and was president of my youth group. So, I have a pretty firm knowledge base. And you know what? Never, ever, did I hear Jesus preaching intolerance.  Never, ever, did I hear him preaching to exclude certain people.

Here’s what I did hear: 

“‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Love thy neighbor as thyself. NOT, love your neighbor, but only if he or she looks like you, believes the same things as you, and says the same things as you.  If you go to a church that preaches exclusion based on a person’s gender, color, sexual orientation, or for any other reason, then that’s not a church. That’s a social club where people hang out with other people who think like them.

If you quote Leviticus as a reason why gays should not marry, I’d better not see you eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics, or have messy (“unkempt”) hair. (For more things banned by Leviticus, click HERE) Plus, I have news for you. Jesus did not write the bible. Nor did God, or even the Holy Spirit. Men did – sometimes centuries after the fact. Some women did too, but those passages were deleted along the way. Look it up.

Here’s who the SCOTUS ruling affects:  Gay people who want to get married. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Not gay? Don’t marry someone who is the same sex as you. It’s that simple. Don’t like gays? Why not? No really, I’m asking. What is so offensive? Does it make you uncomfortable? That’s ok. Lots of things make me uncomfortable. For instance, driving past the homeless man begging at the corner near my office. Or the close-talker at work. It doesn’t make me hate any of them. Being made uncomfortable doesn’t give you the right to deny people a basic human and civil right.

Marriage was not invented by Christians. It wasn’t even invented for religious reasons at all. It began as a way to transfer property, and to create alliances and relationships with more powerful families. Neither love, nor God, had much to do with it.

Let’s be reasonable. A whole lot of “traditional” marriages end in divorce – where’s the uproar over that? If two people get married – any two – how does it affect you? It doesn’t. What affects you is who YOU marry. This applies to many things. Don’t like abortion? Don’t get one. Don’t think a charity deserves money from you? Don’t donate. See how simple it is?

Love multiplies, it doesn’t divide. Two gay people loving and marrying each other does not take anything away from two straight people marrying each other. Two gay people adopting a child does not take anything away from two straight people having a child. What it does do is give a child a home, and isn’t that what we really want? A child to be raised by someone who loves him or her? Children deserve to be loved, and if that family is made up of people of different colors or genders, what does it matter?

Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote the following closing paragraph to the Supreme Court’s decision, and I think it is beautiful:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

I’m back!

I’ve been meaning to get back to this – really, I have!  But that whole life thing …

Anyway, here I am.  A lot has happened since my last update.  Long story short – the dream job was a nightmare (and completely misrepresented by the hiring manager).  But it’s all good, because just as I resigned, a new opportunity opened up and I was hired for a great position at a great company.  It’s been just over a year since I started there and every day I thank my lucky stars that everything worked out the way it did!

In other news, #1 is finishing up her sophomore year in college and turns 20 tomorrow.  Twenty!!  I find this quite impossible, if only from a biological standpoint as I am only 32.  Or at least in my head.  My knees are definitely closer to 60.

Also shockingly, #2 is graduating from high school.  He’s 18.  As those back on the British side of the family tree would say, I am gobsmacked.

And if the first two didn’t make me feel old, #3 turned 16 and is DRIVING HERSELF.  EVERYWHERE.
Honestly, where does the time go??  Thank goodness for merlot is all I have to say.

An Eventful Week … and then some!

This post is long.  Sorry.  But I’ll get the most exciting news out there first –

I GOT A JOB!!!  Can I get a woot woot?

And it’s a really fantastic, great fit, once in a lifetime, dream job.  I start next week so more on that to come.  Those of you who were around earlier this summer when I posted about another job offer?  Short story – it fell through.  But that’s ok, because now I have THIS job.  Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?

The other exciting news has to do with the brouhaha caused when I emailed a favorite blogger of mine, Alison Green, at http://www.askamanager.org.  If you haven’t ever seen her blog, check it out.  Chock full of advice on job searching, resume/cover letter writing, managing employees and bosses, etc.  It’s been a fantastic resource for me in my job hunt, and one of the things I learned from her was to make my cover letters personal and interesting as well as customized to each and every job applied to.  As a writer this appealed to me – and I’m embarrassed to say it didn’t occur to me on my own.  I mean, duh!  But I’d been stuck in the rut I learned in college:

Dear _________,

I’m writing to express my interest in __________.  Please consider me for this position.  You will see from my resume, blah, blah, blah…

Stilted, overly formal and boring as hell.  No personality whatsoever, nothing that says anything about ME.  And especially since I’m in the marketing communications field shouldn’t I be showing off the writing skills I’ve been honing for 20+ years?  Seems kinda obvious.

So I started writing as if I were speaking to someone – having a conversation with the hiring manager.  I told them about myself – why I’m interested in the job, what I’ve done that relates, and what makes me tick and makes me that one special candidate.  And I immediately began getting more responses.  I shared a couple of my letters with a friend who is an HR Director and she loved them – as did her boss, who hired me as a contract employee.  Obviously I was on to something.

At the same time I updated my resume to reflect the bajillions of hours I’d put into volunteering with my kids activities.  I’m not just talking bringing the soccer snacks.  I’ve been a hockey team manager for years, and if you haven’t done it you can’t possibly appreciate all the time I put in and how much I learned that completely translates to the business world.  To start: diplomacy (parents & coaches do not always feel the same way about a player’s effort/talent-level); budgeting ($50,000 per season – it’s not chump change); scheduling (not as easy as it sounds); dealing with emergencies (injured kid, ref didn’t show up, missing equipment).  I could go on but I think you get the picture.  I also did tons of fundraising, wrote PR pieces, chaired lots of committees, etc.  Oh, and by the way?  I was also working part-time.  So I know a little something about time management.  My resume gained a section titled “Community Involvement.”  This also proved to be a big hit because people could relate.

While I hadn’t landed a full-time position yet, I was definitely getting a lot more nibbles.  I decided to tweak my cover letters even more.  I brought my kids into it.  I know this is frowned upon, but I’m a put-all-my-cards-on-the-table kind of person.  I have kids.  It was going to be obvious from my resume that I have kids.  My kids are an important part of the person I am.  If you are not going to hire me because I have kids, then I do not want to work for you.  And I realize that this would not work for everyone (duh!) – but I’m not writing cover letters for everyone.  I’m writing them for ME (duh, again).

What happened when my kids entered my cover letters?  Hmmm.  Even more nibbles.  Some really good interviews.  Several awesome interviews.  A job offer.  Another job offer – this one the job of my dreams.

Back to Ask a Manager.  In my joy over the job offer, I thought maybe someone else would find my story useful.  It’s a tough, tough market out there.  It is absolutely demoralizing to spend hours perusing job postings, customizing letters & resumes, thank you/follow-up emails, all for the occasional call.  Worst part?  Having a phone interview – and worse, an in-person interview – and then never hearing back.  So rude!  No response at all.  I figured, this worked for me, so maybe it will help someone else.  I sent my cover letter to Alison and she loved it!  She asked permission to post it and I said sure.  You can see the post (and my letter) here:  http://www.askamanager.org/2011/09/great-cover-letter.html.  I was overwhelmed by the kind and generous things that the vast majority of commenters had to say.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  While I fully expected some naysayers as well, I really need to address a few of them in particular:

To the guy who said bluntly “don’t mention your kids.”  Really?  It worked.  Maybe not in all situations, but as I said, I don’t want to work for someone that only wants childless employees.  He commented again, “it makes HR managers cringe.”  How do you know?  Are you an HR manager?  If you are, do you automatically toss resumes of people who look like they might have kids?  Kind of missing out on some great candidates aren’t you?  Less narrow-mindedness, please!

To the poster who said, “Huh.  This would be laughed at in my field.”  Wow.  What a completely unnecessarily snarky opening.  I mean really – what is the point of saying that?  Sounds like your field could use a little more personality.  And, do I really need to point out – again – that obviously I’m writing for MY field.  It’s MY cover letter.  Duh.

To the poster who said it was long and went on.  Yeah, it did.  It was the longest cover letter I’d ever written and I had to do a little formatting work to make it one page.  But, I felt it all needed to be said for this particular job.

To the poster who said my closing was cheesy.  Yeah, it was.  But it was also completely honest.  I am at a point in my life where I do want to enjoy my job.  Everything that I said is important to me?  It is.

To the poster who said that mentioning my kids was in poor taste – um, screw you.

But in the end, it was a really enlightening and eye-opening experience.  To all of you that are still looking and are stuck on the job search treadmill, I completely feel and share your pain – and send you my best wishes for finding your own dream job.  What I want you to learn from my cover letter was summed up perfectly by Alison:

“Look, you don’t want to do exactly what Rebecca did in her letter; her letter works because it’s customized to her and the job she was applying for. The point to take away here is that you want to write letters that are warm and engaging, have personality, explain why it’s a strong fit, and add new information to your application rather than just summarizing your resume.”

Please share with me any of your stories.  Were you inspired by this?  Did you change your cover letter style and did it get you more notice?  I want to know!  And good luck – it’s tough out there.  Be kind to each other.  And if you can help someone out?  Do it.  It’s a win-win.

Tattoo You

Told #1 the other day that I had a job interview and that it sounded promising.  Her reply?

“If you get the job, let’s get matching tattoos!”

I said I didn’t want a tattoo – never had wanted one, probably never would.

“Come on, Mom,” she wheedled.  “We’ll get each others names!”

“Really?” says I.  “You’ll get Rebecca on your arm?”

“No, silly!” she squeals.  “I’ll get MOM.”

Guess that should’ve been obvious…

Quads on Fire

Once, a long time ago, I ran for the sheer joy of it.  To feel the wind in my hair and to hear the rhythmic pounding of my feet.  It made me feel good and even powerful.  And it came easily – just pull on the shoes and go.  It got away from me for awhile, and then after the birth of #1 I picked it up again briefly.  Cooper, our beloved golden retriever, was my partner and he’d do the happy dance every time I opened the closet door and grabbed the shoes.  Then I turned an ankle, and then was pregnant with #2, and it went away again.

A couple of years after #3 I discovered ballet (read all about it https://whitfieldsilver.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/ballet-saved-my-life/) and also really got into weightlifting.  And I mean really.  I lifted five or six times a week and the results were pretty dramatic.  I was feeling pretty good about myself – especially my nicely sculpted arms and legs.  This too went away after a couple of years.  I plateaued and it just wasn’t as fun anymore.  Once a week ballet class was pretty much my only exercise for many more years.

Enter Boomer, our highly energetic Airedale.  We quickly discovered that walking him daily made everyone much happier.  I worked up to about three miles a day and usually we went every single day, rain or shine, freezing or sweltering.  Developed a nice little walking club with some of the neighbors.  Hubby bought me these rubber spikey things to put on my boots in the winter so I didn’t slip on the ice (they are awesome!).  Good for Boomer, good for me.  But walking is only walking, and I was noticing more sag and jiggle than I liked.  So I made the decision to add running back in, at least three days a week.

Took Boomer with me for the first time yesterday.  Did my 2.5 – 3 mile walking loop (the distance depends on if you go around every court or not – I did NOT do any courts yesterday) and alternated walking briskly and jogging every couple of minutes, starting and ending with walking to warm up and cool down.  Made several decisions: 1.  I am definitely going to stick with this; 2. get better shoes immediately; and 3. Boomer is a great walking partner but a poor running one.  He likes to stop way too much, and randomly crosses in front of me.  We will stick to walking.

Upon posting to my FB page that I was resuming running I received lots of positive feedback.  One gave me a link to a great website (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml).  It gives you weekly schedules for running, 3x a week, that works you up to 5K (approx. 3 miles) in 8 weeks.  Another friend recommended doing an actual 5K race, saying it really brought her a sense of accomplishment.

Last night I was ready to take on the world, but this morning I am barely moving – the quads are not yet on board.  But they’ll get there.  Oh yes they will.

Got the Homesick Blues…

Sounds like #3’s attempt at summer camp is going about the same as last year’s – poorly.  Had a phone call from her counselor a little bit ago telling me that she’s terribly homesick, isn’t participating in activities, and on top of that, not eating much.  Could I offer some tips to help them to help her?  And would I be willing to talk to her on the phone?

Some background:  Last year, #3 and a friend went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.  Nearly two weeks of art classes sounded like heaven before she went, but the texts started coming fast and furious the first night.  I hate it here!  The food is bad!  I want to come home!  I enlisted #1’s help.  She had had her own traumatic homesickness event at ballet camp several summers before, but miraculously was all better by day 3.  #2 even sent a few funny picture texts.  But nothing helped.  Blue Lake allowed a parent visit at the halfway point, and both parents were begged non-stop to attend.  Finally I texted back, yes I will come if you absolutely need to see me.  However, I will not be taking you back home with me.   She answered that maybe it would better if I didn’t come then.  We went and got her at the end, and afterwards she wasn’t as upset.  Yes it was hard, but the worst thing was the food and the rustic nature of the camp.  She survived and it was over.

Fast forward to this spring.  #3 excitedly asks to go to SpringHills Camp with her friend.  Are you kidding?  Remember last summer?  No, no she reassures us – this is only six days.  Totally manageable.  One minor sticking point – it is a Christian camp, and #3 has definite agnostic leanings, if not downright atheistic.  We talk to the mom of the friend about this.  Not too bad she says.  There is group prayer, but no one is going to single you out or make you feel bad.  #3 says she can handle it.  Think of it as a learning experience I, a PK, tell her.

And off she went.  The other parents drove them up and I was going to pick them up on Friday.  Then the phone rang on Tuesday.

So yes, I talked to her on the phone.  She was nearly incoherent with grief, begging me to come get her.  I reminded her that she’d also had a hard time last year, but managed to get through it and that was for a whole twelve days.  This is only six days – really only five and a half.  Surely she could suck it up for a few more days.  Then the wailing really commenced.  “Please, please, please come get me!  Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, Mom!”

Heartbreaking.  I told her to take a few deep breaths and calm down.  I asked her to give it her best shot and participate in the activities because it would help take her mind off being sad.  I reassure her that she can handle this and that I love her, but am not coming up until Friday.  “But I’m so uncomfortable, she wailed.  “They pray all the time!”  As the sobs continued, I asked to speak to the counselor.  “She is an extremely private person,” I explain, “and she’s very uncomfortable with the praying.  Can you just allow her to observe and not call any attention to her?”  “Absolutely,” I am assured, “We don’t want her to be uncomfortable and anyone can opt out at any time.”  They put #3 back on the phone and I relay this info.  She is steadfast in her begging that I immediately jump in the car and get her.  Yet I didn’t cave in, and asked to speak to the counselor again.  I could hear #3 sniffling in the background while I talked.  “I don’t think I helped,” I said.  “But, since I’m not there to evaluate her myself, I can only go on your recommendation.  Do you think I should come get her?”  They suggested giving it another day.  “We’ll call you tomorrow and give you an update.”

I’ll keep you posted.  I’m betting I have a long car ride ahead of me tomorrow, but here’s hoping she makes it until Friday.

UPDATE:  The camp counselor called the next day and reported that #3 was doing much better, and that “once she spoke to you and realized that going home early was not an option, she decided to make the best of it.”  That, and the hormones had cleared her system.