Category Archives: Photography

Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us

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Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us
Andrew "Cymbal Kid" Pawelvzck with our Son Nishanth

Andrew “Cymbal Kid” Pawelczyk with our Son Nishanth

A Friend of the Family, Andrew the Cymbal Kid

One week ago my son’s best friend Andrew Pawelczyk (Pa-Vel-check) was thrust onto an international stage–he is the YouTube sensation “Cymbal Kid”.  A month ago during the last middle school band performance, Andrew, an accomplished drummer who usually plays the “quad” 4 drums, was asked to play the cymbals.  I was sitting dead center with my husband and daughter while our son sat in the trumpet section at first chair.   Read the rest of this entry

In the Presence of Giants– Neuqua Valley High School Baccalaureate Speech

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This Redwood reminds us that we must learn from the Giants who have come before us.

This Redwood reminds us that we must learn from the Giants who have come before us.

Giants of Our Time

We are a people gathered together today, in this place, in this time, to reflect, to imagine, and to step forth into a new future where we are called to a greater purpose by a God under whose Divine eyes watch over us on this day.

This same Higher Power that has watched over, guided, inspired and led the Spiritual Giants of our faith Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Rama, Buddha, and the great Gurus, on whose shoulders we stand today—this same Higher Power watches over us.  That same Spirit that hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation lives and dwells in you, our graduates. Read the rest of this entry

My Blooming Garden (Part 2): The Fragrance of God

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Lean in to smell the perfumed fragrance of this red rose.

The Garden is Ablaze with Color

These days my garden is blooming with color-reds, pinks, yellows, and especially purples.  These warm days of June bring such bountiful beauty I can sit in my rose garden for hours contemplating the mystery of God’s creation around me.  The tomatoes have not yet formed.  The eggplants and peppers are hopeful flowers blossoming on young plants in delightfully cool mornings awaiting the buzz of bees to bear their fruit in fall.  The basil is reaching upwards toward the sun, not yet ready for my Friday pizzas.  It is here with the sun on my face, sitting at my garden table, with the breeze dancing among leaves of the cottonwood trees that I feel at peace, a sense of ONENESS with God and the world.  This is sacred Sabbath time. Read the rest of this entry

My Blooming Garden (Part 1)–Thinning Seedlings & Making Space

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After three years my blackberry bush is producing fruit.

The Garden Teaches us Life Lessons

The garden teaches us many things about life.  It teaches us about patience.  It takes time for a blackberry bush to grow, to flower and to produce fruit.  My blackberry bush is three years old and I think this year I may harvest 20-30 blackberries.  Last year we picked 4.  Another lesson the garden teaches us is discernment.  We must learn to distinguish between plants that will produce food, and plants that will not–of course I am referring to weeds!  If we allow the weeds to grow, they will choke out the young tomato and pepper plants.  These two lessons are fairly obvious.  The third lesson the garden teaches us is a much harder lesson. Read the rest of this entry

Seeking God in Gardening

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A large fragrant red rose was the first to bloom in my rose garden this year.

Come to the Garden Alone

How do you get in touch with God?  When do you experience the feeling that you are dwelling within a sacred moment?  There are many ways that we can access the Divine.  Some people experience the sacred in cathedrals and churches; others experience the holy in the smile of a newborn baby; still others in the quiet time of prayer.   For me, I experience God in the midst of ordinary every day experiences with my family at home, at the beach, and especially in my garden.  My granddaddy—my mother’s father—was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister back in the day.  As I am writing this post, in my mind I can hear his strong vibrato tenor singing the hymn, “Come to the garden alone.”

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses.

 

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,


And He tells me I am His own;


And the joy we share as we tarry there,


None other has ever known.

A Morning Ritual 

What brings me to my garden every morning?  Read the rest of this entry

The Gift of Water: Every Drop Counts! 12 yr old raising $10,000

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In honor of Earth Day and her 12th birthday, this week’s blog is written by our daughter Nandini.  Last April at 11 years old she began fundraising to build clean water wells for kids in remote villages.  This is her second year and today she shares her story of the Well India Project.

Nandini is on her way to raising $10,000 to build wells for kids who need it most.

Join me in giving the gift of clean water to people who need it most!

Hi!  My name is Nandini and I am celebrating my 12th birthday this month and you can help me give the gift of water.

Last spring, I had an epiphany.  Everyone wants to do something to help people, and I had just figured out what I wanted to do.  It felt like God was sending me a message, and it came in a funny way.  I got my message in a catalog. Read the rest of this entry

Creating New Communities: Spring flowers, tropical fish tanks, and new church starts.

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A community of blossoms on a tree signal the beginning of spring.

Spring inspires us to take on new Adventures.

As the season of spring erupts all around me in the blooming tulips and blossoming trees, I am hearing about people starting new adventures as well.  Several of my pastor friends are starting new congregations, and others are teaching historic churches how to create new life.  I have friends who are beginning new jobs after long periods of unemployment, and others who are moving into new companies with new responsibilities of leadership.  Each of us at some point will enter into a new environment and begin the work of creating a community within.  Whether we are involved in new church starts, new jobs, or starting a new venture, I have been thinking about the questions,  “How do we create a new community?”  and “What makes a community sustainable?”

An experiment in creating a community: a tropical fish tank

Our daughter won a goldfish at a county fair two years ago and remarkably it was still alive at Christmas.  As her parents we decided that she was mature enough to have a tropical tank as her Christmas present.  For five months now my daughter and I have been hard at work creating a tropical fish tank of community fish.  In a very tangible way this experiment in creating a tropical tank has my daughter and I discussing how to start a community, what makes up a good community, and how it can sustain itself. Read the rest of this entry

A Child’s Memory of the Farm, before I was Vegetarian

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A day's harvest from our garden.

“Why are you vegetarian?”  

I get this question all the time.  Long after I became vegetarian, a memory from my childhood surfaced.  It is a surprising story about Sundays on my grandfather’s farm.  I know that my love of vegetable gardens comes from my dad and grandpa.  Every year we plant a garden at my home.  This past year, during the heat of August when the tomatoes were fresh off the vine, I wrote this short story at a Spiritual Women’s Writing Retreat.  I share it to you below.

A Green Pepper on the vine from our garden.

Some of my progressive pastor friends may think I am vegetarian because of the original commandment from God to Adam and Eve in the garden--“God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”  Genesis 1:29.  Much to people’s dismay, I wanted to marry someone who was vegetarian.  At the time I was vegan, until I was introduced to paneer–indian cheese often served with spinach and an amazing blend of spices.  Yum.  I became vegetarian because my friend Adrienne shared with me health statistics of cancer rates among those eat meat and those who don’t.  The vegans had the lowest rates of cancer, and so I gave up meat and dairy at that time.  So that is why I became vegetarian.  It’s because of my husband being Indian that I gave up being vegan…the paneer and ghee was just too delicious.  

This year I grew many varieties of tomatoes, including this orange one!

A better question is why I stayed vegetarian.  As I learned how to prepare a vast repertoire of international vegetarian dishes, I craved less and less the dishes of my childhood.  When I did crave them, the vegetarian market for protein substitutes worked well with traditional recipes.  Then, when I met others who chose to be vegetarian for religious, health, or animal rights reasons, it just seemed to continue to be the right decision for me.  

Yes, our kids are veggie too.  I still believe it is a better health choice overall and I hope that our children are more compassionate and conscious of what they eat because of it.  

Whether you eat your veggies or not, I hope you enjoy my short story below!  Be warned, there is a surprising ending…

God Bless,

Pastor Tanya

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Silver Buttons, Pink Pigs, & Innocence Lost

by Rev. Tanya Sadagopan

The car didn’t seem to go fast enough down that country road lined east to west with corn taller than the station wagon my dad was driving.  I did not like that corn—it was too high to see around.  I was afraid that someone would steal me away if I wandered in between the corn-rows, so I stayed clear.  Nose pressed up against the window, I watch for the corn to end and the farm-houses to begin.  Sunday’s at Grandpa’s farm were the best!  Grandpa lives on county road J.  A funny name for a road, just a letter of the alphabet, but there is a K and L road too.  I wonder if roads A, B, and C start in some other county.  But I only care about county road J and how long it would take to get past this corn.  Read the rest of this entry