Posted by: abbiewatters | January 16, 2017

These words ring true today


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King prophesied in Riverside Church in New York City in his speech “Beyond Vietnam.” How convicting these words are today!

…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

I pray we have not waited too long to conquer those triplets. God in your mercy…




Posted by: abbiewatters | January 3, 2017

Update to 2017 Intentions

You may remember my Star Word that I received in church on Sunday was Praise. I really didn’t know what to do with that, and today I had another opportunity to pick another star. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I scrabbled through the available stars and found one that I liked better. In accordance with most of my intentions, I thought the one I deliberately picked was right on. It was…


Most of my intentions will take all the courage I can muster. We’re in for a bumpy ride this year.

The preacher will be doing a sermon series from now to the beginning of Lent on Bridging the Divide: Facing Divisive Issues as Christians. In Bible study today we looked at Matthew 10:34-39.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

That sounds like I really, really need courage to stay focused and true to my calling.

Posted by: abbiewatters | January 1, 2017

2017 Intentions

My Star Word (received in church today) for 2017 is PRAISE. I’m still mulling how I’m going to live into that word.

These are my intentions for the year. As you know, if you read my post from yesterday, I had some problems in 2016, some caused by my own shortfalls, and some completely out of my control. The main thing I intend to do this year is to try to recognize which category applies to each circumstance, and adjust my attitude to the circumstance based on whether I can control the outcome, or whether I can only control my reaction.

  1.  I will resist hatred, prejudice, and evil, and speak out against all of them when I see/hear them.
    1. I will resist racism by following the actions of Shaun King. You can sign up by sending an email and each day you will receive a couple of suggestions of letters to write, emails to send, or posts to post on Twitter and Facebook, against police violence, and in support of various causes (Standing Rock, etc.)
    2. I will resist evil, hatred, and reactionary government by signing up with Wall of Us. Each week you will receive a list of four actions you can take by writing to your elected representatives to ensure your values are being considered by the government. Some are local, some are state, and some are national. Often you will receive suggestions of products to boycott or hatred to call out.
    3. I will march in the Women’s March in Washington, in Olympia on January 21st, as a mark of protest and solidarity with feminine causes.
    4. I have already set up automatic contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center,, and the Democratic National Committee.
  2. I will exercise regularly and eat good, healthy food.
    1. I will sign up for a circuit training class at the Wellness Center.
    2. I will try to get 10,000 steps a day.
    3. I will log my food every day (and no cheating).
    4. I will cook most of the food we eat from scratch, and will be careful of extra salt and additives in any packaged foods.
      1. I will cook fresh vegetables when they are available.
      2. I will continue to get Blue Apron meals whenever my schedule allows me time to prepare them. If you would like to try them, send me your email in a comment, and I’ll send you three free meals (I have at least 5 sets available).
  3. I will make personal contact with at least half of the churches in the Presbytery.
    1. I will meet the pastors for coffee and a “get-to-know-you” time.
    2. I will try to meet with the sessions and invite more participation by Ruling Elders in Presbytery meetings and commissions and committees.
    3. I will continue to work with the Taskforce on New Worshipping Communities and encourage their work.
  4. I will work for more racial diversity and harmony in my city and church.
    1. I will facilitate a discussion group at Bethany using The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
    2. I will encourage a dialogue between Bethany and at least one historically Black congregation.
    3. I will attend meetings of the City Council, and other opportunities to discuss race in Tacoma.
  5. I will pray for Big Al as he faces decreased mobility and increasing pain from his back problems. I will try to remember that he is hurting, and not push him to do more than he is comfortable doing.
Posted by: abbiewatters | December 31, 2016

Still Possible

(Many thanks to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for her great workbook that gave me an opportunity to review 2016 and to begin to set intentions for 2017. You can get yours here.)

In any case, here is my year-end post for 2016.


Major Highlights

This life-long Presbyterian got to attend General Assembly for the first time. I didn’t go as a commissioner, but I did go as a volunteer and got to meet many of my on-line friends in person for the first time. I also got to renew friendships with folks I met years ago. The open atmosphere, and loving acceptance of racial, sexual, and gender differences was healing to my jaundiced heart.



Co-Moderators of the General Assembly Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson


Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Also, this fall I was elected Vice-Moderator of Olympia Presbytery and installed in the November meeting to take office January 1, 2017


Major Lowlights

There were two deaths in my generation in my family and two deaths of women who were good friends of mine here at Franke Tobey Jones. There are big holes in my heart and in my life with these folks gone.

The outcome of the election was also a major lowlight. However, from that came a resolve for me to be kinder, and to resist all forms of persecution. I finally decided that I was tired of being “tolerant” of those people who spew hate. I am resolved to call out bigotry wherever I find it. That’s what my safety-pin says to the world.


Physical Health

I kept off part of the weight I lost in 2014. Two trips in the spring, and three trips in the fall found 15 additional pounds on me (I have no control over what is served to me on Amtrak and I have no willpower when everybody else is having desert). It’s also almost impossible to exercise when you’re traveling. I’m still able to completely control my diabetes with exercise and diet, and I no longer have to take statins for high cholesterol. I try to exercise regularly by walking, and sessions on the NuStep (although I need to put strength workouts back into my routine). Tai Chi has fallen by the wayside.

Mental Health

My faith in God remains strong, and I’m in a very supportive, loving, affirming church environment. I can’t begin to say how much those people mean to me.

I attend Bible Study at the church almost every week, and it has deepened my understanding and faith.

The affirmation of being elected to the office of Vice-Moderator of Presbytery was a major boost to my ego and mental health.


I have burrowed further into the community where I live. I walk weekly with a group from the church (and then we drink coffee afterwards), so friendships are deepening there. We also have an informal group from Franke Tobey Jones who meet for Happy Hour once a week. During the warm weather we met at the Gazebo next to our house, but when it’s too cold to sit outside comfortably in the evenings, we meet in my living room.

Sadly, we lost more of our friends here this year. Two of my best friends (part of the Gazebo Group) died suddenly, but not unexpectedly. We have been able to welcome a couple of newcomers into our circle. It’s all part of the rhythm of life – folks leave and new people arrive.

My cousin, who is just a year older than I am, lost her husband suddenly this spring, and my brother-in-law died suddenly right before Thanksgiving. When death comes to my generation, it reminds me once again of the impermanence of life.


The good thing about funerals is that the family gets together. Here are all three of my siblings. We haven’t all been together since my son’s wedding in 2013.


I had a vegetable garden again this year,


and I grew green beans, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also had an artichoke plant that made up for lost time this year. I got 25 artichokes of off the one plant. I had such a bumper crop of squash and tomatoes that I was able to donate over 100 lbs of food to the food bank. Al and I ate all the tomatoes, squash, and green beans we wanted.


Political Commentary

I have not been able to write anything about my reaction to the election. I was struck dumb for almost a month over the fact that hatred, misogyny, racism, jingoism, sexism, paternalism and hetero-normity won out. I have decided I will do what I can to resist this scourge of evil. I remind myself that rarely is a society changed from the top down, rather big change comes slowly and through small people doing kind things. Eventually, the selfishness will founder in the face of goodness. I’m checking my news sources and trying, in my small part, to keep to the truth, and to believe that goodness will prevail.


I’m bidding a farewell to 2016. It was a rough year in some respects. Unfortunately many of the good things were overshadowed by death, and loss. The major thing I’m taking with me into 2017 is a new confidence in myself and a new resolve to not let hatred win.

Happy New Year to all of you, gentle readers. Tomorrow I’ll bring you my “intentions”!


Posted by: abbiewatters | December 10, 2016

Whole Again: Reclaiming my human family, reclaiming myself.

Chapter 46 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

There aren’t any questions at the end of this chapter. But Irving leaves us with this thought:

The good news is that everyone can do something to loosen racism’s hold on America. The bad news is that unless you set yourself up for success, trying to do something helpful can actually perpetuate racism. Take time to learn and engage with the problem in order to lower the chances of making the same mistakes I did.

Reading this book, and actually working through the questions at the ends of the chapters is another step I took to “learn and engage with the problem”. I encourage you to do the same.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

Chapter 45 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Make a list of five ways to shut a conversation down. Next make a list of five ways to keep a conversation going.

  1. What a rude thing to say!
  2. Remarks like that are offensive to me.
  3. I’m very uncomfortable when people use racially charged words.
  4. I thought we were supposed to be nice to each other!
  5. Please don’t talk like that around me.


  1. Can you say more about that?
  2. I’ve never experienced things like that.
  3. Do you personally know a person of color who has behaved like that?
  4. Tell me about why you think so.
  5. Can you help me understand where you’re coming from?

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

Posted by: abbiewatters | December 6, 2016

Listening: Listening both to bear witness and to learn

Chapter 44 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Challenge yourself in the next conversation you’re part of to ask more questions than you typically would and refrain from offering your own opinion. Take note of where the conversation goes.

Since serving as a Table Facilitator at Dallas Dinner Table for several years about 10 years ago, I have found the best way to be in a group is to listen deeply. It’s hard when you first start practicing this to not offer your own opinion at every turn, but you learn so much more, and the other people in the room feel so much more valued if you just shut up and LISTEN.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

Chapter 43 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Have you ever been to an event that celebrated diversity? What did you learn about the various cultures’ belief systems? Did the event give you insight into how a person from that culture might feel, given their cultural values and habits, if they tried to engage in an organization steeped in values and habits from the dominant white culture?

When we lived in Dallas, we became friends with a Muslim couple from Turkey. We met them when a group from their social club deliberately reached out to Christians and Jews following 9-11. They “got it”. They invited us to intimate family dinners, and to large gatherings. Often there was no “program”. Just folks getting together and having a meal together.

We learned their names, and the names of their children. They learned our names and some of our ways. Many/most of the men were PhD students or medical students at various hospitals. For a while many of the women struggled with English and were more reserved.

But the women decided the best way to connect with American women would be to hold cooking classes, and teach us how to fix the Turkish delicacies they were missing. DOING something together is a really good way to learn about another person. When the other person is teaching you how to do something, you really learn to appreciate them.

Once the women were comfortable with teaching us, they let us into their lives, and we began to understand how much they had to offer us. We laughed together, we cried together, we ate together, and we shared our lives.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

Posted by: abbiewatters | November 18, 2016

Solidarity and Accountability: Sharing the burden of racism

Chapter 42 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

Think of an issue in your own community (town, school, workplace, religious organization) that has been raised by people of color. How would you approach people who are focused on the problem? How would you go about being in solidarity with them? What could you offer?

Tacoma has, as part of its City Government, an Office of Equity and Human Rights that has been in existence since February 2015. It was only when I just googled “Tacoma – Race Relations” that I learned that it exists. As for as I know (and I’m reasonably plugged in to what’s going on), they haven’t done, or been doing much. I have attended candidate forums during the last two city elections, and I had never heard of this department.

I am connected to Peace Community Center, which is run by a Lutheran Church in the part of the city where many people of color live. But other than that, I don’t have any connection with racial minorities. Part of that is the part of the city where I live, and part of it is my own inertia.

Since I am a retiree, I don’t even have the connections that would otherwise come from having children in public school. I need to get out more.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

Chapter 41 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

What might prevent you from stepping out of the bystander role and into the ally role? Make a list of your reasons. What do you notice as you look at this list? What might you do to overcome the obstacles you’ve listed?

  1. I’ve been raised to “be nice”. – Assertiveness without aggressiveness is a very fine line, and I’m so afraid of offending people that I often am a “bystander”. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to counteract this tendency in myself, and I’m trying to think through some potential situations and how I should/will respond. I also could use a lot more role-playing to practice this.
  2. I’m afraid of practicing micro-aggressions, even when I have the best of intentions. – One of the best ways around this is to develop personal relationships with folks of a different color/faith/gender/etc. I need to seek out people who are different from me, just because I want to be around them. I also need to listen to them when they tell me I’ve stepped over the line and into that space.
  3. My “ear” is often not attuned to unacceptable behavior, and I miss what’s going on. – If I’ve missed the sub-text in a situation, I need to not be afraid to circle back and confront it once I DO “get it.” Again, having a personal relationship with the “others” will help me understand and hear the undertones and undercurrents around me.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.

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