PowerUp on “Grieving Well”

pic of me Power UP for blogThe topic of the show is “Grieving Well” and I invite you to an inward journey where you actively engage in inner-reflection. With the possible outcome being a deeper understanding of yourself and others. You can begin your inward journey, by reflecting on and engaging with the following;

• How comfortable are you crying?
• Do you know the stages of grief ?
• Are you able to feel sad, angry and longing?

PowerUp on “Mentoring”

pic of me Power UP for blogThe topic of the show is “Mentoring” and I invite you to an inward journey where you actively engage in inner-reflection. With the possible outcome being a deeper understanding of yourself and others. You can begin your inward journey, by reflecting on and engaging with the following;

• Name the people who have mentored you.
• Who in your life could you mentor?
• What values do you think are needed by a mentor?
• What do you think you need to be a mentor?

PowerUp on “Living Your Faith”

pic of me Power UP for blogThe topic of the show is “Living Your Faith” I invite you to an inward journey where you actively engage in inner-reflection. With the possible outcome being a deeper understanding of yourself and others. You can begin your inward journey, by reflecting on and engaging with the following;

• What does “Practice Your Faith” mean to you?
• Can people tell by your actions that you have a “faith” that you practice?
• What is an example of how you practice your faith?
• How does practicing your faith impact your relationships with the people you love?
• How does practicing your faith impact your relationships with strangers?


PowerUp on “Setting Goals”

pic for podcastThe topic of the show is “Setting Goals” and If you want to explore and deepen your self-understanding, and set some goals for your life, I invite you to answer the following questions.
• What does “Begin with the End in Mind” mean to you?
• What is most important to you?
• How will you work toward achieving what is most important to you?
• Who will you ask to help you achieve your goals?
• What did you do today that moved you closer to achieving your goal/s?
• What did you do today that distracted you from achieving your goal/s?

PowerUp on “Patience”

pic for podcast The topic of the show is “Patience” and if you would like to explore and deepen your relationship with patience, I invite you to ponder the following questions after you listen to the show.
• When you think of the word “Patience” what comes to mind?
• What challenges in your life did you wish for more patience? When in your life have you been able to be patient with yourself?
• What advice can you give to people your age about patience?
• What are your thoughts on patience being a spiritual practice?
• How is patience connected with spirituality?

I Love My Moms, by Steven R. Ballesteros

My name is Steven Rene Ballesteros. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and I love my moms.pic of Steven B for blog

Plural. I am who I am in large part because of two women in my life. Two spectacular, talented, and fantastic women. My two mothers. I was adopted at a young age by two wonderful, responsible, and intelligent women who love each other so very much. They’ve been together for over 20 years, 15 of which I’ve been gifted enough to be a part of. They are lesbians. Which isn’t worth fussing over in anything less than a wonderfully affirming manner, yet some people do.

They are attracted to each other and they kiss one another on the way out the door to work or at the dinner table when we’re planning out the week. They buy each other anniversary and Valentine’s day presents. They have hobbies, interests, and favorite TV shows. They have steady jobs and magazine subscriptions. They have pets and favorite places to shop and go out to eat. They’re relatively normal people, whatever normal means. But I wouldn’t say they’re no different than any other parents or couples. I’m talking about my mothers right now because they have been discriminated against for their sexual orientation for most of their lives and it seems as if the state of AZ has reached a point of disgusting political action when it comes to that.

Going back to my parents being “different” than other parents or couples.

The reason isn’t that they’re lesbians. That’s more common than some people will willingly admit. No. The beautiful reality of their individuality and unique position is the way in which they have lived their lives. Of course, we all live our own lives and some of us live very powerful and meaningful lives…however, the lives of my mothers are their own. When decisions are made about how they live them and how they may be treated throughout their lives comes to, it is their decision to make. That is a beautiful truth about the lives we live. They are full of choices. Our choices for our own lives. My moms have lived great lives. One is a minister and the other works very hard at a property management business. They have adopted and raised several children who were all “troubled children”, ranging in affliction from HIV/AIDS to mood disorder, PTSD, and the overall darker tone of their skins. My parents have raised my siblings and myself to be strong, motivated, and caring individuals. Even after my sister passed away her memory was not forgotten in how she lived her life and how my parents expect me to live mine. I have advocated for equal rights, spiritual freedom, sexuality education, and better treatment for those who have been oppressed. My mothers have dedicated their lives to helping others in professions of financial advising, counseling, ministry, and creating better living situations for others. In their private lives they have brought up children from abuse and neglect in their biological homes and the foster care system into thoughtful and hope-filled adults in a safe and encouraging household.

Yet, my moms have been treated at times as if they are somehow not beneficial to the world we live in and even as if they do not have the inherent worth and diginity we all have. A worth at times called divine but nonetheless a connection to one another we must all respect and draw from to achieve a better world. As the son of two women I have been called a fagget and a queer. They have been called that and much worse. They have often been denied legal and medical benefits. Their struggles with family and friends have gone so badly at times that one lived in a city full of former friends where in one potentially beautiful day all these “friends” denied her respect due to the fact that my mother revealed a personal truth. Her sexual orientation.

That my moms may be not be allowed service by another on the premise of religion is laughable. Especially considering that one of my moms has been devoted to religion all her life and is an ordained minister who has been changing communities for the better through support groups, progressive preaching, pastoral care, therapy, and inclusion of youth and marginalized communities for years. Not to mention that the other mother is devoted to faith and has helped my siblings and I to grow up with a vast and diverse respect and understanding of faiths ranging from Sidda Yoga to various Jewish and Christian based faiths.

So, you may understand why I may want to puke when I read what AZ State Senator Al Melvin says in regards to Senate Bill 1062.

“I have heard of cases in other states where owners of flower shops and bakeries and pastors and others have been forced to be involved in gay and lesbian marriages against their will and this is an attempt to protect those people here in Arizona.”

If I understand correctly, Melvin is supporting discriminative legislation because he doesn’t want an unwilling flower shop servicing the wedding that my moms CAN’T HAVE?! The wedding that won’t happen unless the state of AZ legally recognizes that MY MOMS TOOK THEIR VOWS OVER 20 YEARS AGO?!

We live in the land of the free. I bet Senator Melvin and similar individuals would agree with me. So…how exactly were pastors and businesses FORCED to participate in gay and lesbian marriages?

And Lord Forbid that we be “forced” to celebrate and directly support the union of a committed couple…

I’m getting a little upset.

And when I was downtown while a march in support of LGBTQ equality went on I was even more upset when a man shouted degrading insults at the openly proud and beautiful individuals nearby.

As a young man of color I have been pulled over, insulted, discriminated against, and racially profiled for the majority of my life. Especially in the dry hate state of SB1070. By border patrol agents, police officers, shop owners, and the random person at school or as I hang out with friends around town.

No one deserves that. Not my mothers, not me, and not you. So please consider this and act on it. Take action for equality and continue to do so even if it’s not in outcry againts politics or such things. Act, don’t just react. And do so for everyone. If you feel the need to advocate for people of color like me than DON’T YOU DARE not to do the same for My Mothers. Or anyone else who is mistreated.

Love Is Love. And Equality Is For All.

-Steven Ballesteros

Unitarian Universalist Lay Leader



But More Importantly,


(We all are, so treat one another as such.)

Pastoral Message

pic of me outside Donald's apt blogHello Family,

I am sitting in my home office watching snow flurries while reflecting on 2013 and the ebb and flow of life. The year 2013 presented me with many opportunities for personal growth. For example, I have accepted that, for me, making new friends I can spend time with is not as important as nurturing and maintaining my long-term friendships using Skype and FaceTime.

During this final month of the year, I encourage you to make a special effort to reflect on the past year and note the challenges you overcame, the relationships you maintained, and whether or not you achieved the goals you had set. Then ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in 2014?” Is there something you wanted to do this past year and delayed doing? Are there things you did or experienced this year that you want to leave in the past? Are there relationships you want to nurture or let go of in the coming year? I encourage you to begin creating the tomorrow you want to have, today.

Finally, I invite you to reach out to family and friends who may be struggling with unemployment, depression, or illness during this holiday season. Let them know that they are not alone. Conversely, if you are suffering with depression, please reach out for support. For Youth and Young Adults of Color who are interested, I have a list of UU ministers and religious professionals of color who are willing to provide chaplain support during the holidays. Please contact me for support or more information.

You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at mcummings@uua.org or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at http://livingmosaic.blogs.uua.org/


Rev. Monica

Pastoral Message

Dear Family,photo of me at P&E 4

I hope this pastoral message finds you and your loved ones well or at least in a place where you know you are not alone. While I was on vacation in May I had lunch with a dear friend who also happens to be a Director of Religious Education (DRE). When I asked her how things were going in her youth group, she sighed. She told me that cutting had become a problem in her youth group. As we talked my mind raced with ideas on how I could support her and the youth who were cutting. One of the ideas was to do a webinar on the topic.

In July, at the scheduled meeting of the Youth Ministry Advisory Committee, I shared my concern about what my DRE friend had told me.  The younger members of the committee validated what my friend had said by sharing that self-harm behavior is big among youth. I mentioned my webinar idea and they agreed that it was much needed and would be helpful. So I presented the first of two webinars on Nonsuicidal Self-Injury (NSI) this week to adult religious professionals. The second webinar is scheduled for Monday, November 4 at 9ET/8CT/6PC and it is not too late to join us at http://fuze.me/21391691 or by calling in to listen at (347) 817-7654.

One of the reasons people engage in NSI is that they do not know how to self-soothe or regulate their mood. So my question to you is: When you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or are in emotional pain, what are some of the healthy things you do to feel better? If you are engaging in nonsuicidal self-injury such as by cutting or burning yourself, by snapping rubber bands on your skin, etc., please talk with your parents, DRE, minister or other responsible adult for support.

Remember you are not alone.

As always I would love to hear from you. You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at mcummings@uua.org, or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at http://uuyayaoc.blogs.uua.org/.


Rev. Monica

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Hi Family,

pic of me with love signI hope this pastoral message finds you well. As some of you are aware today is the start of open enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.  And based on what I have heard via various news outlets, a huge number of people are totally mystified about the ACA.

Pastoral care encompasses a lot more than just spirituality or spiritual fitness. It is also concerned with the physical fitness of beings. So I am going to try and demystified the ACA for young adults who need health care insurance and are overwhelmed and/or unsure where to begin.  The first thing you need to know is if you are 26 or younger you can remain on a parent’s health insurance.  For more information about this topic click here.  If your parents do not have health insurance, I suggest you share this message with them.  The second thing you need to know is there are four categories of insurance plans (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) for you to compare and choose from.  You can find that information here.  A third thing you need to know is that the ACA makes it illegal for you to be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.  You can learn more about that here.  A final thing you need to know is that many preventive health procedures are now FREE.  You can get more information on this topic here.

In conclusion, The Health Insurance Marketplace is Open!  Happy shopping.

As always I would love to hear from you.  You can message me on Facebook at Monica Cummings, email me at mcummings@uua.org or leave a comment for me on the YaYA of Color blog, UU Living Mosaic at http://uuyayaoc.blogs.uua.org/.


Rev. Monica,