4:59 am 4:59 am

Preparing for Our School Year

Another school year is here! During the summer my son gets to relax, wake up and sleep late, eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. Between home projects, summer trips and activities he indulges playing video games to his heart’s content.  As a parent, I am excited when this glorious moment arrives and my teen returns to school with a set schedule. I have learned that if I give my teen consistency, structure and guidelines it helps him to stay focused and know what is expected from him. With his schedule back in order, I feel that balance is restored to our home life.

A week before school starts our family starts preparing. My partner takes my son shopping for clothing and school supplies. I help him arrange his room and his study area. The night before school starts we check his school supplies and schedule twice to make sure we did not miss anything. Yet there are a few items that we could not purchase that he will need. Because I know he will need perseverance, confidence, self-esteem, and courage. If I could purchase these items I would buy them in bulk and make sure to pack them with him every day before he leaves to school.

My teen will need perseverance so he can stay the course, no matter how difficult his school year might get. I also want to provide my teen a box of confidence so he can remember that he can do all things he sets his mind to do and if he fails the confidence to try again. I will also prepare him for the awkwardness of life with a dose of good self- esteem. Because he needs to […]

4:43 am 4:43 am

The Most Auspicious Jain Festival: Paryushan

Paryushan literally means to retreat from all sides towards yourself. It is the biggest and most important of all festivals for Jains across the world. Each year we celebrate it for at least eight days retreating from all worldly matters as much as possible and taking the time to come closer to ourselves. It is a time for silence, contemplation, reflection and realization. It is a time to cleanse our soul through meditation, soul-searching, self-study, fasting, compassion, seeking and granting forgiveness, etc.

On the last day, Jains observe a unique custom, where they ask every individual they may have offended during the year for forgiveness… a forgiveness that is born out of immense inner work.

Forgiveness is a virtue celebrated as the ornament of the brave. So they fold their hands and say “Micchami Dukadam” seeking forgiveness. Michchhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut) means bad deeds. Therefore the meaning of Michchhami Dukkadam is may my bad deeds (with you) be fruitless.
The following is the prayer we say:


It means: “I forgive (from the bottom of my heart without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering either in this life or previous lives), and I beg (again from the
bottom of my heart without any reservation) for forgiveness from all living beings (no matter how small or big to whom I may have caused pain and suffering in this life or previous lives, knowingly or unknowingly, mentally, verbally or physically; or if I have asked or encouraged someone else to carry out such activities). (Let all creatures know that) I befriend all in my heart without reservation and I have […]

10:00 am 10:00 am

Lord Mahavira, the Courageous One

Over 2500 years ago, circa 599 BC, Queen Trishla gave birth to a divine child. He was named Vardhaman, which means ever-growing, because from the time of His conception, the wealth, power, prosperity and glory of the royal family and the kingdom grew in leaps and bounds.

The young Prince’s exemplary courage and fearlessness earned Him the title of Mahavira – the courageous one. Not only had this young boy won over poisonous snakes and wild elephants, but more importantly, he had conquered inner beasts such as venomous anger and unstoppable//raging desires. And thus, for the world, this young boy redefined courage as the ability to recognize and win over inner enemies, and choosing forgiveness and love each time.

Prince Vardhaman embraced monkhood, leaving behind the material luxuries of the palace for a higher spiritual wealth. For about 12 years, He peacefully observed penances, demonstrating astounding inner strength and resilience. He attained omniscience and became a Tirthankara, one who establishes and expounds the path to moksha (liberation) Thus, He propounded the eternal religion of the Jinas, the spiritual victors who have conquered all inner enemies.

The teachings of the Jinas are collectively called ‘Jainism’ and one follows these teachings is a ‘Jain’. The fundamental principle of Jainism is ahimsa, or non-violence,of mind, speech and body; which is propounded as the paramount responsibility for Jains.

The birth of Lord Mahavir is celebrated as per the lunar calendar. This year, on April 20th,  Jains all over the world will remember and celebrate the birth of this Great Being, the 24th Tirthankar, who exemplified true courage and elucidated the path of non-violence.
Join in the celebrations: Think about this:
What are your inner enemies?
How can you demonstrate true valor like Lord Mahavir, […]

2:11 am 2:11 am

Progressive Youth Ministry 2016 – The Aftermath

This February, I found myself deep in the heart of Dallas, Texas for the Progressive Youth Ministry 2016 conference (PYM16). Attending on behalf of Spiritual Playdate, this 3-day conference is specific to progressive youth ministers and youth leaders to exchange ideas, come together for worship, and to network. And let me tell you, it was a blast!

There is so much to tell regarding PYM16, but that would require an essay of great proportion. Instead, I’ll go over the theme, my favorite speakers, and my highlights:

The theme for PYM16 was Faith in an Age of Reason, which prompted an evangelical opening sermon from The Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas where he challenged all of us to passionately lift our voices during the storm of life and to be in the presence of holding onto the divinity of our faith. Furthermore, he encouraged us to be “radically queer,” by which he proposed that we re-identify our image of [g]od and in turn, re-ignite our spirit. Talk about an invigorating way to kick-off a youth ministry conference! And of course, it followed with none other than Rev. Yolanda, a drag queen who sings Old Time Gospel and is now a dear friend of mine.

The rest of the conference seems like such a blur of wonderful connections and insightful information, it’s hard to grasp the highlights. The seminars I attended were FLIP Your Youth Ministry with Doug Pagitt, When Churches Play Together: Building a Collaborative, Ecumenical Youth Community withMorgan Schmidt, What Makes Youth Ministry a Safe Space for LGB and Transgender Youth with Yadi Martinez, and Human Beings and Human Becomings: Departing from the Developmental Model of Youth Ministry with Wesley Ellis. We also heard from top speakers Evelyn Parker, Paul Wallace, Catherine Keller, Rob Bell, and Allyson Robinson. I found all of these speakers to be beneficial in their own […]

10:30 pm 10:30 pm

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3:30 pm 3:30 pm

Found In Translation By Kiah Breidenbach

 At some time or another I’m sure we’ve all heard the Lord’s Prayer, you know: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…etc. etc. For some people it provides comfort, but personally, I never really connected to the prayer. I didn’t really enjoy the way I interpreted it and it didn’t click for me. At least not until a wonderful woman named Carol loaned me a book called Prayers of the Cosmos. I thought it sounded weird and procrastinated reading it, but after a bit of prompting from Carol, I took a peak. The book breaks down the Lord’s Prayer, from it’s original language, Aramaic. It offers various translations that differ quite a bit from the one that I had been taught. The translations were so different because, at least from what I understand, the Aramaic language doesn’t draw sharp lines between things, it’s a lot looser than English, and as with many languages, it contains words that don’t quite translate to English. For instance, the first line, “Our Father, which art in heaven…” in Aramaic is Abwoon d’bwashmaya. Which, aside from sounding really beautiful, can be translated as “O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, you create all that moves in light” or as “Radiant One: You shine within us, outside us – even darkness shines – when we remember”. Personally, I find these other translations a lot more encompassing and uplifting.
The original meanings of many things get lost in translations. Not only in prayers or teachings, but in single words as well. Take the word evil, for example, we take it to mean something malicious and wicked, but the original Aramaic word, Bisha, simply means unripe or immature. A great deal […]

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