Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! D'Angelo and I just got back from trick-or-treating. It was pretty fun. Everyone really liked our costumes and we received a lot of positive comments.

I have to admit that I did not want D' to get the gangster costume. I pushed for a Anakin Skywalker costume so that he could use his light-up light sabre as a prop, but he really liked the gangster suit (mainly because of the tommy-gun that was featured on the packaging). But he looked really sharp in the costume that he chose.

We originally were not going to take Ms. Lion beyond our immediate neighborhood, but she seemed to enjoy the walk and wasn't freaked out by the other trick-or-treaters. So we ended up doing the whole circuit with her. She seemed really confused about the whole process. She gladly walked up to people's homes, but then would get whiney when we wouldn't go in, but instead walk away. And then she would try to approach houses that didn't have their lights on and would get confused when I'd pull her away from those homes. Otherwise, she seemed to have a good time.

It was kind of funny seeing people react to me in my chef's costume. Lots of folks would laugh and say something to me in French. Then they would notice Ms. Lion in her lobster costume and quickly put two-and-two together and laugh anew.

Now we're back home. D's eating candy and watching an marathon and I'm getting ready to blow out the pumpkins. Have a good, safe night, folks!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Eve

Today was a busy October 30th. The day started out with me realizing that D'Angelo's 40s-era gangster costume didn't come with a hat. So we made a fast-dash trip to K-Mart at 7:20 in the morning and searched for a hat to go with his costume. Fortunately, we found one that wasn't very expensive. D' looked pretty good in his costume during his school parade and more people than not thought that he looked like a detective instead of a gangster, so hopefully people aren't assuming that we're bad dads for dressing our boy like a criminal.
Then Les had a costume party at his school. He looked pretty good in his cop costume (no confusion about what side of the law he stands).
The evening ended up D' and I taking Ms. Lion to the pet store to shop for costumes. I found the cutest costume for her, though I think I'll wait until tomorrow to post any pics of this year's costumes. Suffice it to say, Ms. Lion and I have corresponding costumes. Hopefully our two costumes will come together as planned tomorrow.
Until tomorrow, check out this clip from ONN in case you have any last minute costume shopping to accomplish for the little boy in your life:

How To Find A Masculine Halloween Costume For Your Effeminate Son

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review: bi-sex'u-al

This is an old review of a UCC-produced video that I wrote a few years ago, then posted on my old Beliefnet blog, and have now re-visited. I originall wrote this in the context of an online discussion at the now-defunct uccforums.

That original discussion has since evaporated into some unknown corner of the internets. I don't remember how the discussion originated, but my online friend Steven expressed some concerns and criticisms about the UCC-produced video, bi-sex'u-al. Having never seen the movie, I decided to purchase it so that I could defend it or join Steven with his criticisms. The following observations were my immediate reactions to the film:

bi-sex'u-al is a video that was produced by the United Church of Christ a few year's back. Its stated intent is "to encourage local church members to begin the discussion about bisexual orientation and identification. This video will not answer all questions about bisexuality. Rather, it is an introduction to three individuals -- Charlotte Asher, the Rev. John Selders and the Rev. Darryl Wade Kistler -- through their own stories of faith and sexuality. We hope it will inspire you to think deeply about these stories, and your own story, in the light of faith."

I found it to be an "okay" film. I didn't find it particularly illuminating or instructive about bisexuality or about what it means to be a bisexual person, but then again my partner is a bisexual male. So that mystery's been kind of absent from me for many years.

There has been discussion on the UCCforums board about one of the individuals (specifically Rev. John Selders, a bisexual male who is married to a woman) having promoted the value of non-monogamy and how this questioning was also highlighted in the study guide. Here is what was stated regarding his comments in the study guide:

Quote: A concern is raised about how those who identify as bisexual can be in a faithful monogamous relationship. In response, John asks the question, "How can anybody have monogamy? If I am to be questioned then everybody has to be questioned. I think it's about commitment and choice, and that's what I wanted."
I personally didn't interpret Rev. Selders to mean that he's anti-monogamy. He seems to be questioning, probably in too indirect a manner, the concept that he (as a bisexual man) is by definition viewed as non-monogamous, but non-bisexuals don't have those assumptions made about them. In other words, if you're going to question the monogamy of John, you should also be questioning the monogamy of others.

FWIW, I didn't get from the video that John isn't faithful or non-monogamous from his wife. He might be, but I didn't get that information from the video. I didn't get that impression from any of the folks in the video, actually. Charlotte is divorced and now spiritually married to another woman. John is married to his wife. Darryl isn't with anyone (at least not according to the video), but he didn't say that he sleeps around or anything like that. He actually challenged that notion. He's looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, much like most people who haven't found him or her.

There was an interesting question posed in the study guide: "What commitments other than monogamy are important to relationships?"

Another interesting question to ponder: "If people do not choose their sexual orientation, what choices are involved in expressing our sexuality?"

The study guide offered up a couple different scriptures to ponder and reflect upon, Romans 12 and Psalm 139.

As I noted above, the video was an interesting character study, but didn't offer a lot of insight to those about bisexuality.

You can learn more about this video and about ordering it at the UCC's video store.

Further Updated Thoughts on October 29, 2009: I think it would be interesting to re-visit the three individuals featured within the documentary. What have they been up to over the years since this video was produced? What reactions did they face after appearing in the video? Are the various couples still together? Did Darryl find someone with whom to share his life? Are they still involved with the denomination? What challenges so they face as bisexual Christians in 2009 America?

I would also like to know about their current faith perspectives. Does their bisexuality create any significant spiritual barriers? Does their bisexuality lead to any significant barriers to community-building within the church (UCC or otherwise)? These are some of the things that I would like to learn.

Wedding Prep Update

I was driving across Iowa and realized how little time we have right now before our wedding ceremony on January 9th and how much we have yet to get done. So far, we've booked space at the church and with the reception (coincidentally also at the church). We've chosen a color theme. We've ordered the cake (being prepared by a local cake maker called Tip Top Cakes). We've contacted the man who likely will be our caterer. And we've purchased Mark's ring and ordered mine. Beyond that...?

Our weekend plan is to purchase the paper for the invitations. We also need to finalize the design of and begin printing out copies of the invitation. Those invitations and their RSVP notes need to be mailed out no later than Friday next week.

We need to get the catering finalized by mid-November and/or begin searching for an alternate caterer by the end of November.

We need to figure out our clothing. We know that we're not going to do tuxes. We're likely not doing suits. Beyond that, all I know if that the boys, Mark, and I will be wearing matching clothing that fits within our color scheme. I also need to decide if I'm going to order new eye glasses frames for myself before the wedding. Plus I need to get Ms. Lion scheduled with the groomer the Friday before the wedding. My thought is that she'll have ribbons in her ears and (possibly) some sort of veil.

We need to figure out the music. I asked one of the women at our church to play piano. Now I'm thinking about asking another of the women to sing something at the ceremony. I think that Kira would do a good rendition of "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor.

And then I still haven't even considered the format of the wedding ceremony, the hotels, or other forms of entertainment for out-of-town guests. I'll check in on this subject over the next couple months and provide updates on my progress.

Meanwhile, here is a reception dance video made by our cake designer. Enjoy!:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remembering Romanovsky & Phillips

I was just listening to one of my old CDs, "Trouble in Paradise" by Romanovsky & Phillips. They were a gay singing due back in the 80s and 90s. Kind of a secular version of Jason & DeMarco. Kind of.

I was introduced to their music back when I came out in '91 or '92 by a friend. Bob was a gay Catholic man who was matched with me as a mentor through a Rochester, MN-based gay/lesbian social and support group. He introduced me to other gay men; listened (very patiently) as I talked about my future fears, concerns, and hopes as a gay man; and offered some good advice. He also nudged me away from some potentially bad stuff and nagged at me when I began flirting with my first "bad boy" crush. Very nice guy who I've lost track of since moving full-time to Iowa.

Bob lent me my first Romanovsky & Phillips cassette tape, which I promptly dubbed and listened to incessantly during my overnight group home shifts. Their music addresses stuff like fighting back against heterosexist bias, dealing with parental stress, and reacting to break-ups, among other topics. It was good material for my young gay mind and helped me work through a lot of issues interally that I probably wouldn't have through about otherwise at that time.

My next exposure with Romanovsky & Phillips came in spring 1994 when my college's GLBT group, AWARE, arranged to bring the duo to Luther College. I was part of the planning committee and a couples of my friends hosted the pair at their bed & breakfast. I remember fawning over Ron Romanovsky and getting humored by Paul Phillips. I also remember polka dancing in the aisles of Luther's CFL with my friends Brian and Steve to their music. Very fun times.

Fast forward to today. I was listening to their CD "Trouble in Paradise" and thinking about how much things have changed for gay people since this music was recorded back in 1986. Some of the basic assumptions about gay life that they wrote about and challenged in the early 80s have shifted quite a bit. Some of the same issues crop up 25 years later, like gay couples encountering housing discrimination or lesbians losing jobs because of homophobia. But we generally have the balls to call people on their B.S. and we're overcoming this type of bias by and large. And I attribute this cultural backbone to pioneers like Ron and Paul.

If you get a chance, check out their music.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gay Fatherhood

I was catching up on my podcasts yesterday while exercising at the gym. One of those podcasts was the latest communications from the Gay Christian Network. Towards the end of this week's latest podcast was a solicitation for the stories of gay parents and/or the children of gay parents. I don't always feel like I have a lot to offer to the average GCNer. I'm not in my late teens or early 20s, I'm not single, I'm not ex-ex-gay, and I don't have a profound story related to my faith. But I am a gay parent, so I've been toying with calling the GCN phone line and leave my story.

If I'm going to do this, I'm going to write it out first. Otherwise, I either run on and on and on or I'll stutter up a storm. Or I'll do both. So this will be the story I'll use:

Hi Brian & Justin! You asked for the stories of gay parents, so here's my tale. My name is Jon (AKA JonAtFaithUCC on GCN). I live in Iowa with my husband Mark and our boys. Mark and I met and began dating back in 1994. I remember that first night during our get-to-know you conversation where we went back and forth assessing interests and commonalities: "Do you like comic books?" "I do! Do you like pizza?" "I do! Do you want to settle down and have kids some day?" "I do!" We gradually set about establishing our relationship and our mutual careers. We didn't really have any idea how we'd eventually become dads, but we still maintained that goal of becoming parents. Somehow.

A few years later, I became a counselor at a social service agency that worked primarily with foster kids, adopted kids, and their families. It gradually dawned on me that we could become foster parents and eventually adoptive parents.

Within a few years, we took some classes and successfully sought a joint foster care license. Since 2001, we've foster parented three different boys. The first boy -- then 11 -- lived with us for a few months before moving back to his mom's home. It was a learning experience and was good for teaching us how to set limits and how to ask the right questions.

Our second foster son -- initally 8 -- moved in with us in July 2001. Both he and his mother have disabilites that preclude them from safely living together full-time. We maintain a close relationship with this boy's mother and also with her extended family. We have since become his legal guardians, though he speaks with her by phone several times weekly and he usually visits her a couple weekends each month.

Our third foster son -- initially 4 -- moved in with us in April 2005. His father was in prison and his mother struggled with addiction and homelessness. Unfortunately, she was unable to do the things that she needed to do, which led to the termination of her parental rights. About two years ago, Mark and I jointly adopted our son. He's a very bright young man with a talent for science and math and a mature sense of humor. He enjoys basketball and video games, but lately he's been into martial arts. You've heard of soccer moms? I'm a Tae Kwon Do Dad.

To be honest, outside of some issues with my parents, we've not had any major problems with people accepting us in these boys' lives. If there are folks around us who disagree with gay parenting, they have fortunately not shared those opinions with us. We have chosen a good church that respects us and treats us like any other family. We have sensitive teachers who come up with creative ideas for including our son with mom-centered Valentine's Day and Mother's Day projects. We are members of a gay family social group, so the kids know other kids with similar stories and lives. As far as I'm aware, the boys haven't been teased by peers for having gay dads.

To those out there who have given up on their dreams of become moms or dads because they are gay, I strongly encourage you to consider foster care or adoption. There are lots of kids out there, some young, some older, some sibling groups, some kids with disabilities. But they all need people to take them in and help them out. This goes for both Side A* couples or singles and Side B** folks. Kids in foster care don't need perfect homes and to be honest there are no perfect families. They need committed adults in their lives who can provide them with love, consistency, discipline, and commitment.

So that's my story and my soapbox. Thank you, Justin and Brian, for both GCN and GCN Radio and God Bless you both for your efforts to offering the hope of Christ's love to GLBT folks everywhere.

*Side A= Gay Christians who believe that one can be both Christian and in same-sex relationships.
**Side B= Those who believe that gay Christians are called to celibacy (i.e., don't believe that God sanctions same-sex relationships).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Gay Father's Words to Conservative Christians

Back in September 2009, Andrew Marin of the Marin Foundation had asked me to share my story to his conservative Christian readers. The Marin Foundation has a goal of bridge-building between the conservative Christian communities and the GLBT community. It might surprise folks to hear me admit that I'm not the more consistent bridge-builder, but I have my moments and I think it's a worthy goal.

This was the result of that message: A Gay Father's Words to Conservatism. (Sorry I don't post that essay here, but apparently one cannot cut and paste documents onto Blogger and I'm not in the mood to re-type the message here. If other Blogger bloggers know how to cut and paste documents into Blogger blogs, let me know how.) The end result could have been more polished, but the comments section is worth reading.

My Evening With Avery Brooks

Life's been kind of a downer for me in recent weeks, between some post-engagement familial conflicts, my father's death, my dog's lingering bad health and subsequent death. Mark's been teaching most evenings this fall, leaving me solely in charge of the boys. I have fallen into an ongoing routine of work, exercise, and carting boys to Tae Kwon Do and soccer. I needed some "Jon time" and I found it in the form of an e-mail forwarded from Mark's work account: Actor and Musician Avery Brooks Presenting at UI Event.

This was huge news and thankfully I was able to go. Many know that I'm a pretty big Star Trek fan. But I'm a HUGE DS9 fan. I have DVDs of all of the show's seasons and I watch them all the time. I also read all of the DS9-related books.

DS9's always been the underdog of Trek shows, but I've always found it to be the most visually, conceptually, and artistically rich Trek shows. And Avery Brooks' presence and acting style was a large part of this appeal. His was the most complex characters in Trek history. It was interesting to see how much of Avery (his mannerisms, his voice) was present in Captain Benjamin Sisko.

Imagine sitting about twenty feet at eye level from Avery Brooks. That was me. He spoke directly to me a couple different times, which was pretty cool. Nothing profound or anything. Just kind of cool. He spoke about his methods and motivations for his artwork and he performed music for us. Keep in mind that I was totally not this program's target audience: theater students. But I totally enjoyed the entire program and was glad to learn more about this facinating actor.

I think the biggest message that I gained from Avery Brook' conversation was the concept of being an artist. Our art sustains us and inspires us and pushes us forward. We're all artists (or we should strive to be artists). Our art doesn't have to be song or theater or painting. Your art could be teaching children or crafting a sermon or designing a bridge.

My art is social work. I usually don't think of it as art and it is easy to find myself in the rut of phone calls and deadlines. But there is enjoyment to be felt when crafting my reports, when choosing my words, when finding creative ways of going beyond the requirements or amending what might have been typed the year before. There is also satisfaction when I successfully and creatively piece together an assortment of funding sources for the folks that I work for.

Viewing work as craft alters the framework of one's day. It no longer becomes busy-work to get from from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Instead, it causes you to view each task and each assignment as a new creative endeavor.

My life had fallen into a rut. Thanks to Avery brooks, I now aspire to break loose from the ruts in my life. And that is an amazing and unexpected gift.

Faux-Pastor Jon's Sermon: Faith Healing

Originally posted on 2/15/09 under the title: Faux-Pastor Jon's Sermon: Faith Healing. It's a long post, so to shave off some space, I invite you to check out the original post to read the story of Shay:

I just got back from church. This was the worship service I had been assigned to lead as part of my church's shared ministry covenant. I always get nervous at these types of events. Not quite sure why. It's a small church filled with people that I know. Yet, I have to watch myself or my nerves get away from me and I'm stammering up a storm. Fortunately, I had a good day today, despite finding myself in a situation where I had five minutes to come up with a children's message (the person originally assigned to do that didn't realize that it was her week).

The biggest problem that I ran into during the sermon didn't have to do with jitters. It was tears. I kept breaking into tears throughout the sermon. I expected a bit of this during the final story, but not during the "Marsha" story. I had to take a couple breaks to collect myself. But my fellow parishioners responded well to my sermon and to my emotions.

Here is the text to this week's sermon:

Welcome to worship here at Faith United Church of Christ this fine snowy morning...

If you look in the announcements section of the bulletin, you will notice that today is our church's monthly shared ministry service. I am not the church's pastor, nor am I a minister outside of the context of me sharing the day's ministry. So I start today's message with a caveat to any visitors that if you really dislike today's sermon, I invite you to return next week to participate in worship with our regular worship leader, Pastor Bruce. And if you really like today's service, then come back next week where you can hear me lead the youth message.

Anyway, I'm not a minister. Instead, my career has been working with people with disabilities. I've gone from working part-time as a high school and college student in a rural group home to providing services for disabled folks in their own apartments in this county. For the past decade or so, I have worked as a case manager and now as an intake worker for the county. I still have some clients of my own these days, but mainly my job is to get people into the system so that they can get the supports that they need and sometimes to be a roadblock for those who don't qualify for services for one reason or another.

When thinking about shared ministry and what type of message I might share if I were to get into this position, one of the things that I've wanted to do is somehow address disability issues in the context of the church and our faith. Kind of a merging of my two worlds (three worlds, really, if you consider the disabilities that affect various people in my family).

Upon receiving the shared ministry assignment, I immediately went to the lectionary for some guidance and found some inspiration from those sources, particularly from Mark 1. Jesus healed the leper! Leper=modern-day disability community! Great!

Then I read the story and began asking myself what it meant. What, if anything, did Jesus ask of the leper before healing him? (Nothing. He felt pity, touched him, and healed him without precondition.) What did he ask of the leper after the healing? (He told him to tell nobody of the healing besides the local priests.) Why didn't Jesus want the leper to tell anyone about this healing? What does this communicate to us about Jesus and his mission? Why didn't Jesus want this message of physical healing broadly told? Why not take away the pain and stigma of leprosy -- as well as other ailments -- from the larger population? That was my stumbling point in this tale.

After some pondering and considering, I've come to the conclusion that God and Jesus weren't about the healing and the miracles. Sometimes the miraculous cures come, but it's not because of faith. Jesus didn't demand anything from the leper before healing him. In fact, he asked the lep to not tell people abou the miracle cure. (Not that the leper listened...)

I mentioned earlier that part of my job is being a roadblock. With my job, it can be easy to become cynical when visiting with potential new clients. You meet new folks, read medical reports, listen to their requests for money or services, and after a while you begin wondering what's holding them back. Why don't they realize that they don't have it that bad when compared to others? We only have so much money. Does this person's needs warrant the use of those limited funds? It's very easy some days to get trapped in negative judgments. And it will likely become more difficult to avoid such judgments as the federal, state, and county funds that we access continue to dry up and as increased demands for those funds rise.

I do my best to recognize when I'm in those moods and adjust my attitude so that I'm not so judgmental, but it's hard. Sometimes, it's all I can do to meet my clients, renew or adjust their funding, and then let others handle the day-to-day issues. The problem with my job is that I'm separated most of the time from the people that I serve. We do't have case loads small enough to spend much quality time with our clients. We pay private agencies to do that.

I recently met with a woman on my case load for her annual review. She was transferred to me last February, but I'd always been too busy to call her or introduce myself. I made sure that she had funding for her in-home services and trusted that the agency would call me if something came up. Turns out that she didn't like her in-home worker and had dropped out of services many months ago and was trying to make a go of things on her own, so I've been spending a lot of time with her recently getting her set back up with services and helping her follow up with some other resources. I'll call her "Jane".

Jane struck a chord with me, largely because she could be me in a few years. She had a good life for many years. She was a medical professional and very skills in her chosen field. She bought a nice house, where she lived many years with her son, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's mother. She made a good living for herself. She planned ahead. Maybe not as good as she could, but she had health insurance and savings.

And then life happened. Her boyfriend's mother died unexpectedly. Her son grew up and moved out. And then she found out that her beloved boyfriend had been cheating on her for years. All of this happened within a few months. and it shattered her. She fell into a period of severe depression and anxiety. It was very severe, leading to a few hospitalizations, to ongoing psychiatric care, even to electro-shock treatments. Her anxiety and depression is still something that she is trying to overcome years after the onset of her symptoms. Her mental healt symptoms led to the end of her career. Fortunately, she was able to access Social Security to support her. Unfortunately, she still has a mortgage and taxed for an empty house that she can barely afford with her new limited income. And because she earned a good living while in her prime, her disability payments are just high enough that she doesn't qualify for most other forms of assistance like food stamps or reduced energy assistance.

She barely scrapes by. She keeps her heat as low as she can without freezing the pipes. In that awful -20 degree weather that we just experienced, I learned that she turned up the heat to her house to 58 degrees in preparation for my visit. She lives off freebie food offerings at the local grocery stores. She bathes sparingly. She lives sparingly. she is grasping to do whatever she can do to keep her greatest asset and her greatest liability: her home.

The thing that struck me was a revelation that she has familiy members in the area. Family members with enough resources to help her out financially. They could buy her gift cards for Aldee's or Hy-Vee, but they choose not to. They could help her with some money given directly to her electric bill or her water bills, but they choose not to.

They choose not to because of religious disagreement. Jane is not right with God so Jane is reaping the rewards of her relationship with God. She is not praying enough to be healed. She is not doing enough to be healed by God. Healing is a gift of faith and she hasn't allowed herself the opportunity to accept this gift as evidenced by her current struggles.

These are her sisters -- her family -- who won't assist her in this time of great need. Because of her need.

This isn't the first time I've come across people like Jane. There was also "Joanne", who spent too many months with a local Pentecostal minister who promised to cure her of her manic-depression, but instead ended up pressuring her into marriage with a struggling ex-gay drug addict and in turn exacerbating her bipolar condition.

Sadly, I've also encountered this with young children -- children born with stuff like Down Syndrome, Fragile X, autism, or some other condition. Stuff that sets them apart from society either physically or mentally. Too many parents that I've worked with have been lectured by church members abou generational curses. More than a couple families have sought state funds from me to pay for plane tickets to far-away faith healers who will use God's blessings to fix the spiritual brokeness that obviously exists in these families and will in turn magically stitch these kids' chromosones into more typical patterns.

I've been watching the old 1980's "Friday the 13th" television series recently on DVD. The premise of the program is that two cousins spend each episode seeking out and securing cursed antiques that their uncle had disseminated into the community. Each antique offers a unique, Satanic gift to its owner: love, revenge, healing, money. But each gift comes with a price -- usually the life of some innocent.

There was one episode involving healing gloves. The faith healer would touch an afflicted person with the gloves and instantly cure that person of his illness. The gloves would then pass on a lethal dose of that recently-cured disease to the next person touched by the gloves. The faith healer would put on a huge production. Before curing the sick, he had them fall on their knees and yell out their unabashed belief in him and his power over disease. "I believe! I believe!" The sad joke was that belief had nothing to do with the cure.

And that is the literal curse that too many Christians find ourselves in when it comes to God's healing. the leper might be believed in God's salvation. He might not have. He asked for healing and it was offered to him. Not with preconditioned faith or demands. He was healed. Period.

This is a broken world with broken people. Many who are filled with great and pure faith. And yet, unless we're hit by a bus or struck by a bullet, we all succumb to illness, age, and death. Some find ourselves physically cured through faith -- through some sort of medical miracle, but it's alway just temporary. Most of the time, the biggest miracle that we experience is the fact that he live at all. Jesus had the power to do miracles, but he didn't always. He could have cured every leper, every diseased person, every disabled person, and every dead person he wanted if he chose to. He had the power to save himself when bloodied and broken on the cross, but he didn't. Because that wasn't his purpose.

His purpose whasn't and isn't to physically transform us into perfect health. His purpose was and is to transform us spiritually. To save us from our sins and our daily transgressions towards each other. To offer us hope and community within the church and after death.

By benefit of being God in physical form, Jesus Christ could perform miracles. That was his gift. Just like we all have gifts -- special skills. But focusing on His miracles and seekign them can become a crutch. Too often in the church, we lose sight of God's ultimate mission -- salvation -- and use the realities of life -- disease, poverty, natural disaster -- as signs of God's displeasure.

... Please check out the original blog entry for Shay's story ...

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them. Please keep that wisdom in mind as we close in prayer:

God, help us remain open to breaking free from our ruts. Help us recognize your gifts in all people. Help us to see every life as the miracle that you intended. Let us remeber that sometimes your greatest miracles are the loving interactions and comforts that we offer to each other in Your name. Amen.

Just What the World Needs: Another Blog

Here's my quick introduction. My name is Jon. I live in Iowa with my partner Mark, our two boys, our peke, and our cat. Mark and I were married in a religious wedding ceremony twelve years ago at our church. Now that marriage equality is legal, we have plans for a new wedding for January 2010.

I am an intake worker for a case management program that works with people with mental retardation, chronic mental illnesses, and brain injuries. Essentially, I am one of the door-keepers. I also manage a large caseload of folks who do not qualify for Medicaid case management, but who need an ongoing social worker to maintain their funding (ex, folks in residential care facilities).

Anyway, I started a blog a couple years ago over at Beliefnet. Then they made a bunch of upgrades to their system and I was unhappy with those changes. I then began posting a blog at MyUCC. The problem is that I often feel like I should post mainly religious-themed blogs there. So I've decided to start fresh here and see where it leads me. I will start out by reposting some of my older blogs and then... who knows?