Category Archives: new york

Don’t burden others with superficial

Religion has repeatedly cleaned its face after getting dirty by wallowing in creeds and dictates. I just read in the book Acts, when Christ’s disciples reversed the dictate to circumcise.

We have the mind to check our hearts. To purify our intents and image forth love and truth.

Acts 15: 1, 6-8, 13- 19-20

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”

Quoting from science & religion to God:

Superficial loyalty is flawed.

Tyranny and arrogance need constantly to be cleaned out of church temples and codes. The vanity of superficial worship needs to be purged. It is more important to welcome the stranger at the church door than to build a fabulous edifice.

Spirituality isn’t in limited supply. It isn’t controlled by a person or organization. The spiritual idea and its healing power can’t be monopolized.

It is with spiritual sense that we discern the heart of infinity.”

This cleansing is happening. I reported on two women, from two different religions, who came together to host an event to provide refugee relief.

Light never goes down

The outdoor Christmas lights came down last weekend. We kept the lights up past the holidays because our winters are so long here in upstate New York.

I found other forms of light to enjoy: The brightness of justice as commemorated on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The sparkle of ice on the ground. The enlightened sermon given at the local Catholic church about how we can be ordinary with God and feel extraordinary. And, our neighbor’s cheerfulness as she invited us to dinner tonight.

Quoting from science & religion to God, “Through inspiration and understanding, God reveals the spiritual knowledge that unlocks the resources of truth. Spirituality allows us to read the human situation correctly, with healing intent and power. The light of spiritual truth exposes and displaces erroneous human thoughts, and demonstrates healing.”deer-tracks-in-snow

National Adoption Month was November

Published by The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY

November is National Adoption Month

By Cheryl Petersen

The 40th anniversary of National Adoption Month highlights the power to adopt new ideas; to celebrate adults and children alike, who bravely adopt new thoughts, new dreams, and new positions to bring stability to homes and communities.

In 1986, the initiative to increase awareness for the need of permanent families for children and youth in the foster care system, was put into effect in the state of Massachusetts.

The program soon expanded to include the United States. November was deemed National Adoption Month. And with the advent of internet came a national photolisting service. You can find, children and youth, available for adoption, continuously posted online.

Aside from the mechanics of adoption, however, also comes the essence of fostering and adoption. We need to consider the spirit of individuals, families, and communities. It can be a sensitive, complex, and confusing process.

From East Branch, Nikolas Bowker,18-years old, said, “When I first entered a foster home, I was confused. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Today, Nikolas is unafraid to tell other children in state care, “It gets better.”

The “better” came about with the help of many hands and hearts. It came about through efforts made to overcome snags and slip-ups.

Nikolas admitted to acting out at first, and said, “I got into fights in school. I felt as though I was being treated differently from other kids who had parents.” But he and his sister, Briana, went on to be fostered by the Bowker family, who later adopted the siblings. On Nikolas’ birthday.

Today, Nikolas is finishing high school, with the goal to continue caring for his own family.

The support from family members, teachers, coaches and so on is appreciated. “It’s nice having a family that cares for us,” he said.

Braina Bowker, 13-years old, is homeschooled and uses an online program managed by Liberty University Academy.

“Each Friday, I get to meet with other homeschoolers my age and from around the area. We play games,” said Briana, who also takes piano lessons.

Briana is tickled with the idea of having a big family. She remarked, “I never thought I’d have so many brothers and sisters.”

Their parents are Jennifer and Health Bowker, also parents to 11-year old Heath, 10-year old Caeden, 8-year old Wyatt, 6-year old Tessa, and “We adopted 2-year old Finnegan last year,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer and Heath felt so blessed to have four biological children that they wanted to do something for children who didn’t start with a loving family. They live on a small farm and give each child morning and evening chores to teach them self-worth and responsibility.

“It’s God’s overwhelming love poured on us that compels us to share that love,” said Jennifer.

However, in this brief article, justice to her statement can’t be accomplished. Nor to the children. Their backgrounds are diverse, even dramatic. They are pitted with trials, yet acquitted with profound perseverance and empathy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the words to explain, but Jennifer summed her thoughts with a quote from the Gospel Matthew: “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

The Bowker family worked closely with Delaware County Department of Social Services, in charge of public foster care and adoptions.

Concurrent plans are established within the Department to reach the goals of: keeping children in a safe environment; returning the children to birth family members; and if that doesn’t work, freeing the children, legally and emotionally, to be adopted.

“The Social Services Department takes great pains to match children and families,” said Rebecca Hoyt, Director of Services.

Working with the Department since 1999, Hoyt has seen trends come and go, but one thing stays the same. “We try to get families back on track and keep the children in homes with a sense of normalcy,” she said.

When the trendy drug epidemic poked its ugly face out, the County instituted a Family Treatment Court to deal with cases through the Department of Social Services.

“The parents agree to be in the treatment program,” explained Hoyt. “It’s a step that assists their progress in sobriety, or if the parents can’t get it together, it allows the children to move on to adoption.”

Hoyt works with many case workers along with Dana Scuderi-Hunter, Commissioner, on the job 2 years. Training programs are in place for case workers and parents.

The top reasons children are placed in state care are parental substance dependence, child neglect, and domestic violence. Knowing this, the department puts into place apt prevention services for families and children.

Scuderi-Hunter said, “It’s about making the children feel welcomed and integrating them into families and the community. We don’t try to erase their past, but work with who they are and where they are from to move on in a life of normalcy.”

Awareness and education are also used to remove the stigma that comes with being a foster child. Rather than fall through the cracks, they are encouraged to attend higher education.

“When we all embrace a healthy image of the children, they gain confidence,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

The Department assists foster children with higher education.

Scuderi-Hunter has also noticed the confidence also allows the children to feel more secure to return to care after they turn 18-years old. “It’s the youth’s personal choice until they are 21-years old,” she said.

With this active synergy of state regulations, trainings, preventive services, treatment programs, and education, the number of foster children has been decreasing in Delaware County.

“Many factors are involved, but in 2015 there were 97 children in foster care. As of September 2016, there were 68,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

Data also shows that year 2014, recorded 15 adoptions. Year 2015, recorded 17 adoptions. “This year to date, 15 children have been adopted with an anticipation of 4 more,” said Scuderi-Hunter.

To make it special for the children and families, Adoption Days are scheduled throughout the year. Scuderi-Hunter said, “I love going to adoption days. I love seeing the permanency. Because, when we make a positive difference in the life of all children, it affects the future.”

Posted on Sun Bulletin

We can change for the better, a comment I got printed by Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton, NY

Have you ever got a song stuck in your head? Terrorists have “concepts” stuck in their heads and defend them to death.

Fortunately we have a window of opportunity for getting unstuck built into nature. Change.

Change happens. We can’t stop it. We can though, harness change and use it to benefit humanity, like harnessing electricity to turn on the light.

Changing for the better requires courage. Think of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Harriet Tubman. They were extremists. We just call them revolutionaries.

They had in common the aplomb to put themselves out-there in the face of danger and death. They stood for new positions that represented something greater than themselves. Equality, freedom, and progress.

Great thinkers and doers ally with what I call spirituality, a trust in good. They show forgiveness and integrity when attacked by hate and brutality. They show meaning in life when demeaned.

After 9/11, the word terrorist was nailed to the word Islam. It’s since been hammered into our heads by the media and by horrifying events. The words seem to be one and the same but this is a concept that can change.

Five years ago in Delaware County, New York, where I live, a Muslim community, the Osmanli Dergahi Sufi Center, became the target of suspicion and animosity. The Muslims were accused of illegal behavior in regard to two plots in a small cemetery on their property. It got ugly.

The Muslims verified the plots legitimacy but their word was not enough.

The Town leadership told the Muslims to disinter the bodies. Legal counsel was brought in to show that the Muslims had indeed followed the law. Moreover, non-Muslims mobilized to stand with members of the Sufi community on the side of justice. Today, the cemetery stands in peace.

The Muslims are not standing still. They’ve become involved in local municipalities and Villages, thereby improving the concept of Islam.

The Town of Sidney Supervisor, Eugene Pigford, told me recently, “A Muslim, Hans Hass, is on the Planning Board and offers useful input.”

At the newly opened Tulip & Rose Café, Manager and follower of Islam, Hasan Siddiqi, told me, “We need to put faces of kindness and integrity into the public.”

The effort is attracting the willingness to trust, not so much in human beings, as in the ability to get along, to support and respect one another. A concept worth fighting for.

I’ve also visited the Muslim community and listened to its key representative, Sheykh Lokman give a sermon. He said, “The only jihad we have is against our own egos, against hate and self-righteousness.”

The Sheykh’s discourse touched on respect for the old traditions that have proven sound in Islam. “Do not take away the power of speech. Support peace and justice,” he said.

The natural force of change is universal, unbiased. As a Christian, I too can support the concepts of self-improvement, peace, and justice.

 

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer for The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY; Catskill Mountain News, Arkville, NY; The Delaware County Times, Delhi, NY; and Kaatksill Life Magazine, Delhi, NY. Her book is, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

 

http://www.pressconnects.com/story/opinion/2015/12/24/guest-viewpoint-can-change/77880690/

Find satisfaction before the experience

Raising chickens was a great experience. We had chickens when our daughters were living at home. I didn’t have to buy an egg the entire time. We ate brown eggs from hens that roamed the pasture. We boiled, scrambled, and baked with fresh eggs.

It was a good experience.

We want experiences. A religious experience. A position of power experience. A sexual experience. Out of body experience. A death defying experience.

Sometimes, I want to get chickens again, to repeat the experience. But that won’t happen. I already know what it means to have chickens. So, I crave more satisfying experiences, ones that expand my consciousness.

I can’t help though, to back up a bit and think that maybe I’ve already experienced what I’m looking for.

I just need to recognize my satisfaction in it. And, maybe this is very simple.

For the last 4 days, it’s been raining here in upstate New York. We are starting to mold!

But, during a 2 hour break in the rain 2 days ago, I dashed out and mowed the part of the lawn that was out-of-control.

That lawn is still growing, in this ideal grass growing weather.

Instead of thinking I need to experience something, I am satisfied.

To find satisfaction “first” helps me not believe I have to have a certain experience first, a belief that can lead to obsession or addiction.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “Song, sermon, and Science—crumbs of comfort—are capable to inspire us with wisdom, Truth, and Love. Spiritual comfort blesses the human family, feeds the unsatisfied, and gives living water to the thirsty.

 

Growing spuds in upstate New York

We stopped to talk to some neighbors. The nicest couple. They were planting potatoes, using an old-fashioned planter. The husband had to put each seed potato in a slot, so they’d drop into the ground with synchronized precision. Well, some precision at least, and it beat planting by hand, as they both remembered doing from the old days.

The evening was calm. The weather was inviting. Our conversation led to a featured newspaper article that I wrote.

They plant one acre of potatoes each year and share them with friends and family.

I can appreciate the intimate sharing. I also can remember my dad, who farmed hundreds of acres of potatoes. My sisters and brothers and I would cut the seed potatoes before planting with a large 6-row planter. Then we’d worked on the potato harvester, pulling weeds out of the freshly dug potatoes moving along on a belt onto a truck.

The magnitude of Dad’s operation seemed to lose any intimacy, but thousands upon thousands of more people were fed compared to our neighbors farming.

Neither method is right or wrong.

We can move forward in our spiritual journey with the method that speaks to us, that we can relate to and know it’s productive when it does touch others. Our smiles can feed other people’s famished hearts.

Matthew 9

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV)

Ruth drives as Jim Sickler plants potatoes in Franklin

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