Sunday, December 18, 2011

Buist 2011 Newsletter

December 2011

It’s the end of an Era. The home I grew up in on Hamlin road has been sold. Five of my brothers have worked hard to clean out 57 years of living there. Kudos goes especially to Mark and David who have fought clutter, dumpsters, and other wild things such as rat nests in the process. My Mom’s only home now is her home in Hemet. She is part of an exclusive book club there which she enjoys and she passes a lot of good books my way. I picked her up for Thanksgiving and we did our bonding over eating and shopping. We had a great Thanksgiving here with her, Don’s Dad and sister Janet. We had a 24.4 lb ham (we got a good deal on) and the leftovers live on.

I am still substituting but did some tutoring last year working 16 extra hours a week at student’s homes and am signed up to do the same for a company which pays better. My biggest accomplishment this year was finishing writing a book that I started as a student at the U.W. (One, which had never seen the light of a computer.) I participated in National Write a Book in One Month for November. I actually finished the first draft on December 9th. Now the editing begins and guess what you’ll all get for Christmas next year? I cannot tell you the joy that writing again has given me.

Don has not only been formatting my manuscript into a book, he has been working with his sister Janet on basic information books on Orchids. She and Don’s Dad, Hal, are part of the OC Orchard Society and have most of their backyard dedicated to growing orchids.
Like teaching and most businesses Don and Janet’s business is going slow, but Don and I were finally able to get Health Insurance for which we are grateful.

John turned 19 this year and was the most employed one this summer working at Office Depot where he now works part time. He is finishing up his second year of college and has sent out applications to UCLA, Berkley, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara. He loves his Math and Physics classes and has a huge whiteboard where he writes out long equations (his homework) which look like hieroglyphics to this English Major. He is part of the Engineering Club where they are building a robot.

Benjamin is now 13 and an 8th grader. He is beginning to get taller. He won an Outstanding Award for 7th grade English last year, quite surprisingly to us since he is in Honors Math and Science. He loves Woodshop, Science, and Band where he plays trumpet. It’s hard to think of him entering High School next year.

It has been a year where we have lost a lot of great people. Many friends have lost loved ones or are going through rough times. So in this season of Advent we may not have an abundance of money but we have the love of all our friends and families along with hope in the love and peace of Christ which will pull us through any cold and dark winters of our lives.

Love to you all and may you find joys in the little things, the moments of grace and blessings our God of love brings to you this New Year and,

Have a Merrijoyful Christmas!

MJ for Don, John, and Benjamin Buist

Monday, December 27, 2010

Buist Christmas Newsletter 2010

As I write we in Southern California we are having the Seattle version of” I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, which is I’m Dreaming of a Wet Christmas ,just like the ones I use to know.” As the rain pelts down a “dry” Christmas would be nice. Last year, I talked about going for a year of joy. Well it’s a good thing that I write these yearly letters to give my aging, forgetful brain a chance to recall the joys 2010 brought to the Buist family.

In March my dream of showing my sons one of my most beautiful places was accomplished when we went camping to Big Sur. Hats off to Don for the long drive. Life came full circle as John wore my Eddie Bauer jacket that I wore in Europe and probably on my many trips up the coast in my skinny single days. To hear my video game sons awe at the beauty and insist on stopping to see the seals was priceless. Cooking outdoors at the campground does food taste any better? We even had French press coffee. John and Benjamin enjoyed climbing trees and breathing in the beauty of the waves at the beach I first discovered and took numerous pictures of over 25 years ago.

It was Senior year for John including the prom. I commend all you mothers of daughters since getting together his matching tie and suit exhausted me. To see all the kids he grew up with all grown up was quite a sight.

It was graduation year for both boys. Benjamin graduated from 6th grade and is now a 7th grader at Santiago Middle School wearing uniforms every day. He is playing trumpet in the band, is in Honors Science and Pre-Algebra and loved his Wood Shop class. He turned 12 this summer with his annual water balloon fight.

John graduated from Elmodena High School and Grandma W was able to attend along with Grandpa B and Aunt Janet. He is attending Orange Coast Junior College and another joy is that he has free tuition. The books, however, are a different story. He took American Government, Western Civ, Economics and Calculus. In his spare time he reads Physics textbooks he has downloaded off line. These Math traits are obviously not from me as my boys remind me daily.

A highlight for me this year was being in charge of the Fathers’ Day Service at my church. I not only preached but ran the entire service, even singing a solo with the choir. My joy of the day was singing the offeratory with John who sang Stephen Sondheim’s, “Not While I’m Around”. Ever since then I’ve been known at the church as “John’s Mom.” It has been a joy sitting with John at church. Another joy was dedicating my sermon, “Stories of Our Father” to the memory of my earthly father, Dick Wennerlind with my Mom attending. Attached is a copy of the sermon I preached.

One of the strangest things this year is that my nondrinker husband Don bought a bottle of vodka. It is a project he and his sister Janet are doing to make authentic vanilla extract. So if you want to place your order now please contact him. (He is also making soup with Italian sausage – what Alien has replaced him?)

As friends are losing loved ones this year, and dear ones are facing health challenges, I am thankful that our extended families are doing well with the exception of my youngest brother David who has been diagnosed with MS and is on medication. We’re all praying for him and would appreciate your prayers. We are happy that Grandpa Hal B is healthy at 88 and Grandma Shirley W. is turning 83. We were blessed with having her stay the summer in Hemet so she was able to attend Don’s Fourth of July birthday party. She did go to the Richards family reunion in Texas for Thanksgiving so my brother Dan’s family got to spend it with her but we look forward to having her for Christmas.

I will be starting a new group called Empowering Our Sisters (EOS) where we read about global needs of women and how we can help support them to bring change. The book we will be reading is Half the Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Kristof and WuDunn. I encourage you all to read it

The Business front for both Don and I has been rough due to the Recession. Teacher jobs are not to be found but I am grateful I’m keeping busy substituting. In these tough financial times I am grateful for the health of my family, the joys that continue to come our way, and how we are blest with the love of family and friends.

We wish that you find joy even in the midst of life challenges this New Year.

MJ. For Don, John, and Benjamin Buist

PS Teaching in Santa Ana for so many years I find myself enjoying my flan singing O Come O Come “E”mmanuel with the Spanish pronunciation “A” manuel. But lest we forget Benjamin’s spelling of the reason for the season it is Je “A” sus!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stories of Our Father

This is the sermon I preached for Fathers' Day. Sorry it took so long to post.

Stories of Our Father
By MJ Buist
Diaconal Minister
June 20, 2010

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you God our Father and to the memory of my earthly father, Dick Wennerlind, Amen

There’s a funny story we like to tell about my own father. It involves a mug, chicken and stars soup and a bad dishwasher. You see my mother likes to drink her soup out of a mug. Now those of you who have ever had Chicken and stars soup know that it has noodles shape like little stars. Now combine this with a not so thorough dishwasher and my father grabbing a mug and pouring himself a cup of coffee. Looking into his cup he saw the stuck stars on the bottom glowing back at him. So he began to shout, “There are stars in my coffee!” My mother and I realizing what had happened decided to play along with both of us looking into the cup saying, “I don’t see any stars, do you see any Mom”. The story rings with a bit of irony since in later years my father died of Alzheimer. At his Memorial service all 9 of us –yes count them – 9 of us siblings took turns telling stories of our father.

My brother Mark told how my father on a family vacation could keep a station wagon in perpetual motion for 3 days. My youngest brother told for the first time how my Dad had been kicked out of one of his basketball games for getting in the referee’s face and how he had begged my brother, to not tell your mother. I told how my father by being a teacher and a deacon at the church had taught me servant leadership. We all told about the ways our father had always been there for us over the years. People at the church told how he had ministered to them and for weeks later my mother would receive letters from his former students saying how his influence had helped to change their lives.

My father took us to church each Sunday where we learned the Bible Stories about God our heavenly Father. The Old Testament is full of stories of God the Father. The lectionary reading from the Old Testament for today which we didn’t get to, is the story of Elijah running for his life from Jezebel. It tells how God sends his angels to feed him and provide a place of rest.

Hebrew is a much more emotion felt language than the cognitive Greek of the New Testament. The Hebrew Scriptures have the Psalms which praise God for the work he has done. The Psalmists remember how God has delivered them and even when the Psalmists are asking where God is, they still express confidence that God will provide for them. The Old Testament ends with the prophets who tell it like it is while prophesizing about the Messiah to come who will put an end to the law.

In our Galatians reading today you have the apostle Paul who was once a zealous Jew who sought to destroy Christians. But a funny thing happened on the road to Damascus, he has a conversion experience where Christ calls out to him and Paul realizes that the Messiah has come in the person of Christ. So in this passage Paul tells about how we are no longer ruled by the law but by faith through Christ which is opened to all whether Jews or Gentiles. It not only belongs to the biological descendants of Abraham but Paul declares that if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs to the promise. So through Christ we are all children of God the Father and we can all share in telling stories about how God our father has saved us.

I love the song, So Many Times which the choir graciously allowed me to sing with them because it is somewhat of a modern Psalm. I love the part where God welcomes her home not asking where she’s been – like the father in the Prodigal Son, I choose to view God in this loving way versus an angry punishing killjoy. The writer tells how God has been there for her, for so many times. Along with St Julian of Norwich’s mantra,” All Will Be Well” this song, has gotten me through many nerve racking times. I would sing it over and over again every time I had to face a stressful situation like my Diaconal Interviews, claiming like the Psalmists claimed, that no matter what the outcome, God would pull me through.

In our Gospel Reading we have the Messiah Jesus Christ driving out a legion of demons from a man. Now while many of you were enjoying the sunshine of the weekend I have been studying about demons and the abyss. It reminded me of doing research for papers in the 2nd basement of the Fuller Library nicknamed the dungeon. In this passage demons were known as unclean spirits who would dirty up your own spirit. They were called noxious spirits which could be spirits of delirium or my favorite spirit of melancholy that enter a man. Demons were always cast out by claiming the power of God the father. Well here you have Jesus who the spirits recognize as the Son of the living God. And they beg him not to torment them. Very strangely Jesus doesn’t just zap them but he asks them their name. After telling him they beg not to be sent into the abyss. This is translated into “the deep” meaning a bottomless, unfathomable deep or underworld which is mentioned in Revelation where it is opened up and Satan gets locked up there. Christ show compassion here by allowing them to go into the pigs, note he didn’t send them into them but allowed them to do so. Now my whole life the big emphasis on this story was not only the miracle Christ performed but also how Christ was somewhat punishing the Jewish people who were violating the Levitical law by raising pigs. Thus the angry pig farmers asked him to go. But in verse 37 it says they ask Christ to leave since they were seized with great fear. They were terrified at his power. He gave them the hemi gimmies. Due to these preconceived notions, I wondered how this passage could work into a Father’s Day sermon until I noticed the last verse. This is where I believe the true emphasis should be. The cured man begs to stay with Christ but Jesus sends him away telling him to go home “and declare how much God has done for you” So it ends with this man proclaiming throughout the city over and over again how Jesus had saved him from the demons.

I have just fallen in love with the musical Sweeney Todd who they call the demon barber of Fleet Street. Sweeney has earned this title by the terrible deeds he does in the musical. What I found most interesting, however, were the demons within him. Sweeney had been falsely arrested and thrown in jail away from his wife and baby daughter so years later after breaking out of jail he returns to London with the demons of revenge and vengeance for how unfair he has been treated. It got me to thinking about all the modern day demons we have in our own lives. Exterior and internal issues that dirty up our spirits. It’s easy to come up with addictions such as alcoholism, drug addiction but what about other demons that keep us from living a life of wholeness. Demons of unforgiveness, resentment, jealousy, fear, and unworthiness. You probably know your own demons. In AA addicts call to a higher power who can pull them out of the bottomless pits of despair. Another one of the 12 steps is to name you addiction, name your demon, like the man in the story. Numerous now sober people will talk about how God gave them the power over the demons of their addictions. Christians believe in the power of Christ helping us to name the demons in our lives. We believe in the Holy Spirit who will overcome and cleanse our unclean spirit. We join then with the Jewish people, the Apostle Paul, and the man Christ delivered from the demons in sharing the stories of salvation that God our father has brought into our lives.

I close with a story about my own children which started in this very church. My husband and I were attending a Wednesday night class and our children were in the Childcare, John was 7 and Benjamin 4. Well I got delayed in picking them up since I was gabbing with some people, whom my children will tell you is one of my demons. So their father picked them up and when little Benjamin asked where Mommy was his older brother teasingly said, “Oh the aliens got her”. Now I who have worked hard on making my children feeling safe in “God’s house” was not happy to hear that my oldest had created aliens in the church yard. When I finally got to the car Benjamin hugged me and started telling me this elaborate story about how I had been abducted by 5 aliens who took me to their spaceship. He had raced after them and he went into great detail how he had body slammed the first alien shouting you’re not getting my mommy and how he fought all the rest to rescue me. I wish I would have put it on tape. But the story didn’t end there. Each day of the following 2 weeks he would still tell his story embellishing it more and more. He would tell it to classmates, friends, and even strangers in the supermarket. Till finally I was getting a little tired of it and I asked him, “Benjamin– why are you telling this story over and over – why is it so important to you?” To which he simply said, “Cause Mommy, I saved your life.”

We love to tell the story; will be our theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Song John sang:

“Nothing’s going to harm you
No one’s going to dare.
Others can desert you not to worry
Whistle I’ll be there.
Demons will charm you with a smile
For a while but in time
Nothings going to harm you
Not when I’m around”

Stephen Sondheim

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Movie You Have to See

The wonderful book called "Half the Sky" which is named over the idea that women are half the population tells about ways we can help empower women all over the world by sending micro loans to help women start businesses to get out of poverty and have a better life for their daughters which hopefully includes education.

This book is coming to the big screen on Thursday March 4th at 7:30 at a local theatre near you. It will show success stories of women who have been helped through micro loans. Check out their website at for more information.

Some friends and I are looking for somewhere we can give a group donation to help women overseas. We look forward to viewing this movie which will show how the little money we spend at the movies and/or Starbucks can change the life of a woman overseas.

I encourage you all to attend and share your comments regarding what the movie inspires you to do. I myself will share with you all what I learn and where we decide to donate our group's money.

Continuing to live out Susan's and Elizabeth's mission of equality for all women, wherever they may live.

MJ Buist

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Susan B. Anthony!

Today has been marked "Presidents' Day" combining George and Abraham's birthdays. If you are a woman who has voted in any Presidential Election you have Susan B. Anthony to thank and guess what? Today is her birthday, Susan B. Anthony Day.

Ken Burnes Series called, "Not for Themselves Alone" tells the wonderful story of not only Susan but her sidekick, Elizabeth Caddy Stanton. I love the story because these activist women who were trying to get the vote for African Americans realized that they had no political power to do so until they themselves got the vote. I loved the example they set of what women working together can do. Women from all walks of life joined the movement. Elizabeth a wife with many children was the brains while Susan who was unmarried, refusing to be a man's doll or drudge, was the feet to get out the message. Elizabeth, a bit of a radical along with Susan's political savy and organizational skills, made great strives to get women the right to vote.

Sadly, they didn't live to see the day when the 19th Amendment named after Susan B. Anthony was passed by many of who were called Susan's nieces in the movement. Women who brought their own skill sets to accomplish the vote for women.

She reminds me of what we as women, forgetting our differences, can accomplish working together to make this world a better place for the next generation. As I look into issues such as Health Insurance for all, education for girls all over the world, and stopping the violence to women in the Congo; I hear Susan whisper in my ear to continue her work for total equality for all women.

©Buist 2-15-10

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Those Gaggy Valentines are Back

So today is the big day. A miserable day when I was single but now that I'm married it's just another day - an excuse for chocolate. I'm so happy that this is the last year my 6th grade son will have to buy and address those cheap tear and fold Valentines for his class. My students as well as my husband shopped at the 99 cent store for me this year. I considered buying my husband a valentine at one of these dollar stores and was horrified with what I found. The covers were cute but I would turn the page to find some truly not only "gaggy" but untrue statements. One card had a cute teddy bear but the inside read, "You are my world!", not, "you make my world" or "enhance my world", or "glad you're in my world." I consider myself a whole person. My husband and I at our wedding did the traditional lighting one candle with both of our candles, yet we kept our individual candles still burning. So you see nothing is my whole world, not my faith, my job, my children, my husband, or my friends. My world is made up of all these things and more for which I am thankful, but none of these by themselves is "my world." Other cards had beautiful words and pictures on the cover but again the insides read, "You fulfill all my dreams", or "my life didn't begin until you". I wondered if it were the cheap store I was at. Were Hallmark cards more truthful? My favorite Valentine my husband ever bought me, though he's gotten so many of those glossy 7-11 ones over the years, was one with a heart shaped ditch which was being dug out and it said something like "our love is a work in process but with you it's worth the work."

Let me tell you about one of my favorite Valentine's Day. My family went out for an early Valentine's dinner (We had money then.) Afterwards I went out for coffee with some of my single friends and I got them each a pretty bag of chocolates. Driving home I found myself upset that Valentine's day had hit on a Thursday-Trash Night and I dreaded taking the trash out. I got home and found it already out. My son had helped his Dad take out the trash. I was ecstatic, at that moment this simple act was the greatest Valentine's gift and from that year on I never had to take out the trash.

So call me an easy, cheap date, but little acts of love bring Valentine's Day to me all year long.

So how do you feel about Valentine's Day. Is it "Ba Hum Lady Bug" day or a day you truly treasure along with all the heart and chocolate wrappings? What have been your favorite Valentine's cards or gifts?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Train Still Runs

“This train still runs, though the baggage weighs a ton
We carry on, No one is forever young, I’m not done,
This train still runs”.
Janis Ian, This Train still Runs©1992

I was flipping the channels the other night and ran into a beautiful white haired woman singing folk music and was surprised to find it was none other than Janis Ian. Her hit, “At Seventeen” was one of my favorites in my college days. But this was not the timid nervous teen singer with afro hair, but a confident white haired woman with a beautifully mature voice and a face glowing with wisdom. Some complain that singers’ voices aren’t as good when they age, but I found hers so much more mellow and developed than her younger years.

I found her Autobiography at the library which told about the years of struggles that brought her to such inner beauty. I bought her Essential Hits and loved the poetry in her music with some of her songs reminding me of Joni Mitchell of whom I have been a die hard fan.

Then I heard her song, “This Train Still Runs” written in her midlife and it reminded me of the midlife women celebrated in WomanSage. WomenSage is an organization started by Register columnist Jane Glenn Haas which is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to educating, empowering and fostering mentoring relationships among women at midlife.

In the past women were forced off the “train of life”, retired into the role of Grandmother. Thanks to groups like WomanSage, another car has been added to this train of life where women come together to continue the ride together, discovering new destinations and helping one another and the world with the grace and the wisdom born of maturity. This is something that Janis Ian, who hasn’t had a hit since 1975, is doing.

We admit with Janis that no one is forever young and though we may carry baggage from our life experiences, we have survived the bad and celebrate the good. We still carry on refusing to jump off the train since we are not done. We have plenty to contribute still and we will, since our train still runs.