Category Archives: biography

2012 According to Sarah Beth

In spite of what I’ve seen on TV, I am sure the world is NOT ending tomorrow.

In the spirit of the upcoming New Year, let me offer my reflections on ” 2012 According to Sarah Beth” .

This has been a pretty good year. Best Dude & I are healthy & very happy. Our lives are not fancy, but we are content.

In February, I traveled down to the Tampa/ St Petersburg area to meet his family{ Siblings, daughter & grandchildren} His family is wonderful & on our way home we took the ” scenic route”. He took me to Cedar Key, a tiny little island off the coast of Levy County, Florida.

This year we adopted a dog. The first part of our dog-seeking journey occurred in April when we tried to adopt a two-year old female Springer Spaniel. The poor little girl had been rescued from a puppy mill & was NOT socialized. when she bit Best Dude we had to surrender her back to Springer rescue.

In October one of my friends in the neighboring county posted photos of a very uniquely colored male Springer . Best Dude & I met the dog & immediately ” took to” him{ he ” took to ” us as well. We named our dog Seamus { after the classmate of Harry’s in _Harry Potter_}

So, in 2012 we added a canine to our family.

My fitness quest is coming along well. My fitness partner & I meet on Monday,Wednesday & Friday to either swim in the pool { said pool is heated & covered in the cooler months} or strength-training in the gym. Although I’ve decided that I am not quite muscle-bound enough to enter the 2013 Panhandle Showdown, I am continuing to work on building lean muscle.

This past summer I spent two weeks up North. Most of the time there was spent with my godparents at their lake. It was wonderful….I hiked, kayaked & even attempted to water-ski. { That attempt could have gone better} I also went to a County Fair wit my godsister & her husband….something I had not done since childhood. I also attnded worship at th smll Presbyterian Church where I had been baptzed { at thetender age of 20}.

It has been a great year.


In the wake of the school shootings….


My heart breaks tonight. Words cannot suffice regarding how I feel about the most recent school shootings. I ache for all of the victims’ families & the entire town of Newtown.

This should NOT have happened.

A priest-friend of mine asked on Facebook” Where is God in all this?”

Where is God indeed?

I am glad I am not the only person who wants an answer to that question. How can a loving God ” allow” such slaughter of innocence?

Yet I am comforted { at last a wee bit} by the image of The Blessed Mother holding the Infant Christ on her lap. On my desk in our home office is an icon card of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. Although I am not sure of the name of this particular rendition of ” Madonna & Child” I’ve always been comforted by the image of a tiny, vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth wrapped safe in His mother’s arms. I imagine that this very Jesus welcomed each of the innocent victims of yesterday’s school shooting tenderly & gently.

Scripture tells us that our loving God will not & has not given up on humanity. Humans can be evil creatures & I am sure these acts of evil sadden our Creator. No matter what Israel did, God was steadfast in God’s love. No matter how many times God’s People screwed up, God never reneged on God’s love.

It is times such as these that my Catholic faith really anchors me. I do not know WHY this happened to these families in that town in New England. But I do know that God has NOT forsaken humanity— regardless of what ” the culture ” might try to show us. Somewhere & somehow, love & Shalom will prevail .


Tikkun Olam

 Shalom Shabbat, y’all.

Coming from an interfaith family– I am a huge fam of both Christmas & Hanukkah. Naturally Christmas means more to me, but my Jewish heritage is a gift–and one that I have never taken for granted.

Anyhow, I came across a Hebrew term this evening that I had not known until now. It is : ” Tikkun Olam” & it is { very loosely} translated as ” to fix what is broken”.

As Christ-followers, we have a responsibility to fix what is broken in our world.  The Advent/Hanukkah/Christmas season is the perfect time to reach out to our sister & fellow humans who are suffering in mind, body or spirit.  Instead of focusing on materialism, we should take time to help another person { or people} who are needy.

Although helping to provide basic needs is a great way to start, sometimes people who ” seem” to not need help are the neediest.  There are many lonely souls in the world : & I know from experience that the loneliness amplifies itself tenfold during the holidays. Reach out to someone who is struggling emotionally or spiritually this Advent. Give to your local food bank. Visit an elderly person who might not get may visitors. Donate toys to a shelter for homeless families.


Spread shalom this holiday season.

When God calls…

God has been loudly knocking on the window of my mind for about 6 months.  God is calling me to a ministry that I’ve vehemently denied answering  since I was confirmed into The Episcopal Church.

I am running for vestry. Unless  two other people runs with or against me I’ll sit on vestry for three years.  Since I already told my priest of my intentions , I cannot back out of this now. { even if I’d wanted to, which I do not}

I am apolitical & until now have *NEVER* seriously considered vestry.  But now is the time.  Although I do not wish to sound arrogant: I feel that someof my gifts will be useful on a parish { any parish} vestry.

I am— comparatively speaking– younger than the average vestryperson. Younger people tend to be more open to what the Spirit might be saying at any time. I have taught Sunday School & I work with youth currently & some of my biggest ” aha moments” have come from conversation with younger people.  Some of the children with whom I worked are much more spiritually-mature than some adults I know.

I care. I care  A LOT.

Although there is nothing wrong with ” pew sitters”{You know– people who attend church almost every Sunday but are otherwise not involved in parish life.} I’ve never been a pew sitter in my life.  The Church is my community, my OHANA. {Hawaiian for ” family”}I want to help her be the best example of Christ’s ” hands & feet” that she can be.

While I am not a ” numbers person” I feel strongly that doing God’s work & measuring how well we do ministry should NOT be calculated only by numbers on a spreadsheet.

My entire church-going life has been with small churches & it is here that I’ve felt God’s Hands at work within me the most.  Although I left the Presbyterian church, I’ve gleaned examples of what does & does not work in a small congregation.

The little church where I was baptized taught me much about doing much to BE Christ in the world regardless of limited human & monetary resources.  The Holy Spirit is working within my Small Parish now & I firmly believe that I am the sort of vestryperson needed to help her grow numerically & { much more importantly} spiritually.


Gone to the dogs….

he big news in my life is the addition of a new family member with four legs & a tail. Best Dude & I adopted a four-year-old male English Springer Spaniel about a month ago.

His American Kennel Club-registered name is ” Johnny Utah Roan” but we renamed him “SEAMUS”.

Most of you know that we tried to adopt a little female Springer back in the spring & how that ended with the dog biting Best Dude & her subsequent return to the foster organization. It was a sad time for us. Both Best Dude & I are dog-lover & I know that I felt liked a failure when we had to return the biter to the foster home fomwhere she came. Although I totally understand the rescue organization’s policy on never adopting out dogs who bite–it still made me feel like  I somehow failed the needy dog.

Seamus eats A LOT! We’re trying o get him to only at twice–but the first week we had him he  was so UNGRY. Acing on advice from  dog-loving friend, e bought Seamus some diet dog food–hoping that he won’t find the low-calorie food palatable. We were wrong.

Seamus is a wonderful addition to our lives. We are blessed that Go led him to us.

{ Iwould post a photo–but WordPress is not working properly, so I’ll need to wait to post some photos of Seamus here. Sorry. }

Tick Tock….get out & VOTE!

It is almost over….after 17 months of constant politics, the 2012 election is tomorrow.

Alleluia, Amen!

I already voted { Florida has early voting} & for once I am proud of the vote I cast both for President & for the US House of Representatives.  Early voting was a new experience for me & all in all it was a good experience. best Dude picked me up at the gym after my training session & we went to lunch at our favorite sandwich shop. We got to the polling place { there were only two early-voting polling places in our county} soon after the lunch rush ended. the staff was very helpful. I felt NO pressure to vote for any one candidate nor for or against any of the proposed amendments to the Florida constitution.

Since I voted, I wish that the political ads would somehow disappear from my TV set. :O( My mind is made up & legally I cannot  undo my vote –even if I’d wanted to do so.  This political season seemed to last longer than usual & I’d developed ” voter’s fatigue  this summer.  I do not really subscribe to any political party–although if pressed I’ll admit to being a left-leaning Libertarian.  Since I’m not affiliated with any official political party , I tired early of the partisan bickering. In my opinion both rabid Democrats & rabid Republicans are equally annoying.  many people I know will { or already have } vote along ” their” party line, regardless of what said candidate says .

I am NOT looking forward to tomorrow’s ” election coverage” on TV.  All that so-called ” data” makes my head hurt. I often wonder why no one bothers to explain to we, the taxpaying & voting public, exactly how & from whom this data is gathered .

Guilty Pleasures {PG-rated}

We all have our ” guilty pleasures”. You know, those things that we’d just fade away in embarrassment if anyone at school or work knew that we enjoyed.. and we secretly enjoy them anyhow? { and I mean PG-Rated guilty pleasures–get your mind out of the gutter!}

Here is my list of cultural ” guilty pleasures”.

~ Swamp People on History Chanel on TV. Best Dude & I can { and do when we are really bored} watch this for hours on a boring afternoon.

~ The too-cutsey pop song ” Call Me Maybe”. As inane as they lyrics are to tis song, it has a great beat that cheers me every time I hear it. Please don’t make me turn in my Rocker Chick card for this admission….please! :O)

~ TV’s Dancing With The Stars is another guilty pleasure  that I indulge in on most Monday nights. I like the competition part of this show but truly do not like the Tuesday night  results show.

~ I’ll admit that Avril Lavigne’s music used to possess much more ” street cred” than most of her later work.  But as far as popular music goes, I still think she is way more original than most of current stuff  on the radio now. There is nothing like ” vintage Avril to calm my frazzled nerves when I’m angry or in need of a workout playlist with more POW! :O)

~Jeff Foxworthy’s humor always makes me giggle. perhaps it is because his ” You Know You are a Redneck if_” schtick reminds me of A) People with whom I grew up in Pennsylvania & Ohio or/and B)  Some of the people I see shopping at my local Wal-Mart.

~ I do use Twitter. Yes, after much consternation, I finally created & kept a Twitter account. While I do not ” tweet” my entire day to my few followers–certain sporting events & a few other various & sundry events will see Sunshine_SB { that’s me} light up the Twitter-verse. :O)

What are YOUR {PG-rated} guilty pleasures? You know you have them….

Hawlin Lawgs

 I went to the gym solo this afternoon, as my usual M-W-F workout pal was not feeling well.

Anyhow, I walked into my gym & it was so QUIET { for once} Myself and a little old lady were the olny two humans of the female persuasion there —as well as the usual jocks. I completed my workout & left the gym in my typical 45-minutes.

Best Dude & I had to ” Hawl Lawgs” from the wooded area behind the house to the driveway. Not only did I easily lift te smaller logs into the wheelbarrow,  but I pushed the LOADED wheelbarrow all the way ” uphill” o the spot where we’re gathering the logs. These are heavy oak logs & I am proud of myself.

Today’s OT lesson is probably my favorite in the Hebrew Bible!

Today at Mass we heard the story of Queen Esther. This story is one of my all-time favorites in the entire Hebrew Bible.

Not only was this young Jewish woman incredibly beautiful{ according to legend}  , but she was smart. Married to a Persian king,  Esther discovered a plot by the evil Haman to have all the Jewish people in the area murdered. When her husband asked her what she wanted–anything up to & including half of his kingdom}  she informed him that she is Jewish{ I am guessing she didn’t let him know the truth about her ethnicity before now???} The king agreed to save the Jewish people from the planned massacre.

Esther is a hero to the Jewish people { and yeah, we Jewish Christians are still Jewish]

My question is: why did Esther hide her ethnic identity from her husband. From what I’ve read & been told–the guy was clearly smitten with her. Did she fear that ill fortune would come her way if people discovered that their Queen is Jewish? Did she really think that her husband would divorce her based on her ethnicity?

Of course I am hearing this story with 21st century Jewish Christian ears–and as a young woman born in 1976 in America. 

My Jewishness is not ” visible”{ Is anyone’s Jewishness visible…sadly some would answer that question with a vehement ‘yes’}.  Since my father is Irish-American, my last name is Irish. But I’m not only Irish-American, I am Jewish-American as well.

The way I see it, the Star of David is a symbol of ethnic Jewish pride.My ancestors in Europe during th Hitler years were forced to wear this six-pointed star on all their clothing as a mark of ethnicity–I can understand why some Holocaust survivors might feel strongly against displaying or wearing a Star of David anywhere on their body.

After I visited the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC a few years back– I felt a deep kinship with the souls of those who perished under Hitler’s reign. I see a parallel between Haman in today’s Old Testament lesson & the Hitler who ordered the murder of over 6 million European Jews.

In our nation where religious freedom is a birthright, I’ve never felt the desire to hide my ethnicity from ANYONE. My Jewishness is part of why I have the worldview that I do regarding prejudice against * any* group of people.  I am a Christian— but a Christ-follower with some genealogical roots in Judaism. My Christianity does not negate my Jewisness & my heritage does not cancel my faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Time marches on….and on.

I see that several  of my friends on Facebook have children who are old enough to attend high school Homecoming dances this weekend.

Seeing the photos makes me both nostalgic, proud & sad.

 I am NOSTALGIC because it is hard to believe that we , Class of 1994″ are old enough to have teenaged children.  I saw my High School Best friend’s daughter’s Homecoming  photos & she is attending her first high school dance. the girl’s Mom & I went ” stag” together for our sophomore Homecoming, since neither one of us managed to obtain suitable dates to that dance.

I hated high school, but I muddled through those bad years.

I feel PROUD when I looks at these kids’ dance photos on Facebook because I am *much* stronger { physically, mentally & spiritually} than I was in high school. In spite of many obstacles: I managed to overcome challenges & grow into the woman I am now. I’ve met most of my life’s goals &  am blessed by a good life  When I was in high school, I could not see beyond the immediacy of the moment{ such as attending a school dance “stag” with my best friend since my date ditched me at the last-minute  . { I’ve forgiven him but cannot forget the humiliation I suffered because of his dishonesty}

I am SAD for all the young people in other parts of the wold ho would love nothing more than to receive an education. In some countries education is a luxury & { depending on the traditions of a particular nation} a luxury that is only reserved for boys.

It saddens me when I hear about teens in my own area dropping out of high school. Many American youth do not see that education–at least the completion of high school, is essential in the current job market.  As much as I hated my time at Hillbilly High School,  dropping out was *not* an option for me. Many afternoons I would come home from high school literally in tears as a result of all the bullying I suffered , but not once did I ever consider quitting school. 

Have a happy & safe Homecoming, everyone!