How to Use This Issue (May 2015)

Ah, finally. Mother’s Day! A chance to lay in bed and wait for my three teens to bring me breakfast. I’m hoping for handmade cards, fresh flowers and perhaps chocolate. What are your hopes and dreams this Mother’s Day?

Wait a minute! As I read Julie Taylor’s “A Day for All Who Mother,” I am reminded, “not all women who mother have children, yet their mothering helps others just as much.” So let me celebrate the mothering and mentoring of my surrogate mothers and sisters on this day, “a day to commit to be more compassionate and ferocious in your love for others.” Yes! I will be ferocious in unconditional love this month.

As I dig deeper in the soil of my hopes for Mother’s Day, I must admit I long for more than pretty and delicious gifts. Of course, I will not reject my childrens’ gifts. Many women, like me, are more comfortable in giving gifts than receiving them. One gift I long for is a daily attitude of gratitude.

This spiritual gift is given in the story by Katey Zeh, “Honoring Mothers, Honoring Women.” From this study [PDF], I give thanks for the many stories of mothers, including, sadly, stories of maternal mortality. The Bible offers prayers for the motherless and a hope to “work for a world where no child must grow up without a mother.” And healthy mothers have healthy babies.

Overall good health is truly the most awesome gift. As I tell my children all the time, “Health is wealth.” On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the gift of good health.

Indeed, this issue of response sparks my awareness of just how important good dental health is! Boyce Bowdon shares an incredible ministry of Neighborhood Services Organization, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution in “A Growing Neighborhood.” This ministry came from the reality that dental and oral health predict good overall health. While good teeth contribute to a good smile, for many dental care is not as simple as choosing a sparkly toothpaste. A lack of dental insurance can cost a family dearly. This neighborhood center brings comprehensive dental care to people in need.

As usual, this month’s response educates and inspires on cutting-edge social justice issues. I learned a lot reading about mandatory minimums in Marc Mauer’s “Mass Incarceration in the United States.” After reading this [PDF], I am committing myself to reading one of the books on restorative justice as described by Jennifer Lim in her “The Case for Restorative Justice.”

For Mother’s Day, I may ask my children for one of the books mentioned in this article. In fact, I may ask them to to hold off on the flowers and the chocolate. I may even stay in bed to read a few selections from the Reading Program.

So if anyone asks what you want for Mother’s Day, or you are deciding how to celebrate your mother, consider something small like a book from the Reading Program or something big like restorative justice. A gift that celebrates all who mother.

However you choose to celebrate the day, may you feel God smiling on you and on all of the surrogate mothers and sisters throughout our United Methodist Women network. May you feel a ferocious unconditional love and an abiding compassion for one another.

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Ecumenical Advocacy Days – Lost and Found

This afternoon I am working on my story about Ecumenical Advocacy Days for an upcoming response issue.

I am writing about this thousand-fold, annual gathering of activists who make an ecumenical push to persuade Washington D.C. legislators on a topic of concern among the Christian faith community. This year was no different. The topic was Mass Incarceration and Systems of Exploitation. Wow. Heavy stuff.

And yet. There were moments like this: image

I had left the worship space in the hotel ballroom, but had to return because I had lost my folder and notebook. My notes were full of statistics and quotes. One such quote: “The United States is a mere five percent of the world population yet it hosts 25 percent of the world’s prison population” (April Johnson). Ecumenical Advocacy Days is an intense learning experience. And yet.

When I returned to the ballroom, there was so much joy from this liturgical dancer. Her whirling and swirling made my heart soar.

image

The choir was singing praises, even during times of sorrow. It is for this very kind of magical moment of synchronicity that I love working for United Methodist Women. Yes, the world is full of challenging issues, and yet we find moments to celebrate and create community.

We must replenish our hard work with play and praise.

On one afternoon of the three-day event, my daughter and I found time to walk beneath the Cherry Blossom trees. It was restorative.

imageAs I work on my story about the Washington D.C. social justice weekend, reporting on the Christian community’s advocacy for the dispossessed and imprisoned, I am reminded of the journey we all take. A journey that is both joyful and sad.

I am also aware that some times when we look for something we lost, we find something new. Something better.

I had lost my notebook, but I found this prayer by a dancer. She seemed to tell me to find joy even in challenging times.

Surely the beauty of the blossoms this time of year is also a reminder of rebirth and hope.

See also: United Methodist Women Blog on Ecumenical Advocacy Days.

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From the President (May 2015)

My soul will make its boast in the LORD; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:2-4 (NASB)

Happy Mother’s Day to all those who nurture and engage in our lives. Your faith and prayers have protected us, so we say thank you for caring for and loving us. You taught us to love the Lord with all our hearts and fear not, for when we allow fear to come into our lives we miss out on God’s blessings.

United Methodist Women members are on a journey to Make It Happen for women, children and youth around the world. It gives me such wondrous joy to know our commitment turns right side up lives that are upside down. We take our gifts and talents and sow seeds for faith, hope and love in action.

United Methodist Women’s focus on maternal health calls for justice and a fuller life for mothers. We want to increase healthy births of babies around the world and reduce maternal deaths. I thank God for the work we do locally and globally as we partner with others working to create safer and better lives for mothers and children.

The Difference Makers Circle of United Methodist Women in the Metro Kansas City area recently hosted a roundtable conversation with medical and community organizations to discuss the everyday issues and concerns around healthy mothers and healthy babies. As children of the Most High, our responsibilities are great, but God has equipped us to make change. The world needs healthy babies.

We celebrate Mother’s Day in a month we also celebrate graduations. Access to education is something that United Methodist Women members have been working hard for over many years. Our national mission institutions have in place wonderful programs for children and youth to prepare them for life. We get joy and excitement reading to a child, assisting in homework, teaching English as a second language or supervising a field trip, just to name a few ways we help develop future leaders.

I once again challenge you to contact your local national mission institutions and ask how you can volunteer. Maybe the organization would like Reading Program books, or help with fulfilling their supply wish lists. To find a national mission institution near you, visit www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/nmi.

For those without a national mission institution in your area, contact our regional missionaries and see how you can provide educational supplies to them.

These are wonderful ways to be mission as local units make a difference in the lives of women, children and youth around the world. Oh magnify the Lord with me as we continue to put faith, hope and love into action.

YVETTE KIM RICHARDS
President
United Methodist Women

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The Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day

Did you know that Mother’s Day was founded by a Methodist woman?

Video by United Methodist Communications, featuring United Methodist Women General Secretary Harriett Jane Olson.

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A Prayer for Mother’s Day

MayprayerFrom the May 2015 issue of response.
Prayer courtesy United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.

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Member poems

United Methodist Women member Denise McCullough in Waynesville, North Carolina, contributed a story to Bright Lights, “Wool Hats From Maggie Valley, North Carolina,” in the May issue of response. Ms. McCullough also sent us some poems, which I’m sharing with you here. Enjoy! 

Will There Be Butterflies in Heaven?

The morning mist moves over the pond,
The first rays of sunlight sparkle on the Yellow Poplar,
Over where the big, red tractor sits.
Today will be a good day to mow the yards,
And prune the hedges.
Things grow so fast when rain and sun mix
In just the right amounts.
The Blue Morning Glory,
Like a rebellious child,
Persists in going its own way,
Despite my guiding hands.
Snapdragons grow to their full three feet,
And Blue Phlox vie for the record.
Red Geraniums produce blooms in abundance
And Purple Gayfeather lords over it all.

This place I love beyond all measure,
Has been given to me by Grace,
A worldly treasure.

Crooked Finger and Toes

The crooked finger writes
And having “writ” moves one,
Although the finger’s crooked
It can still sew and paint
And sometimes write a song.

The crooked toe down there I see
Looks awful, but it says to me,
“I get you in styl, ol’ girl,
Maybe not quickly
Or dancing in a whirl,
But I get you thereso!

To remind me of my age,
I have these poor appendages
Which also help remind me,
Of all my great advantages.

DENISE MCCULLOUGH

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From the Editor (May 2015)

May15coverThis month’s masthead looks a little different. I’ll be serving as interim editor of response while Yvette Moore serves as United Methodist Women’s interim director of communications. (But don’t worry—Yvette’s office is right next to mine.)

In one year United Methodists from around the world will gather for our quadrennial General Conference, the top policymaking body of The United Methodist Church. Many of you have or will elect your conference’s delegates to General Conference at your conference annual meeting. The General Conference can revise church law as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs. Any organization, clergy member or lay member of The United Methodist Church may petition the General Conference. In 2016, United Methodist Women will move into four new priority areas for our mission work. Our petitions to General Conference will focus on continuing our existing work and build on these new priority areas, which are:

Our foremothers left us a legacy of doing the mission needed for its time, and we continue their legacy today. Until poverty, violence, inequality, racism and preventable deaths cease, until women and children are no longer marginalized and we live in a world in which all thrive, women need to be organized for mission. In the 21st century, we need United Methodist Women.

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