Thursday, September 20, 2018

Porch Story :: Green Team Talk

porch story 18 May Green Team Talk

porch story 18 May Green Team Talk

Porch Stories host Kristin's younger daughter Rachel is three years old! Happy Birthday, Rachel!


September and October typically are our hottest months in southern California. Two more days until Saturday and the autumnal equinox. Water year begins 01 October, the rainfall year—01 July; both are at historic southern California lows. Meanwhile, Florence has sent floods, devastation, and grief along the Eastern seaboard and she's become another hurricane name that will be retired forever. Today, September 20th, I'm finally blogging my Green Team talk from May 18th, Friday of Easter 7, the 48th day of Easter, two days before the Festival of Pentecost. Although I kept my six pages of notes, I'm reconstructing what I said from my single page outline.

Green Team Talk

Today is the forty-eighth day of Easter!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
response: Christ is risen indeed; Alleluia!

Today is the forty-eighth day of Easter! In a couple of days the church's year of grace will cycle into the green and growing liturgical season of Pentecost, and we'll begin counting Sundays after Pentecost. Even Trinity Sunday can be called the first Sunday after Pentecost, or the octave of Pentecost. The church long has celebrated important events in octaves of eight days...

During this season of the Spirit, time of the Church, we act upon and celebrate the reality of the Holy Spirit of life, the Spirit of resurrection from the dead that fills all creation and that we specifically receive as a gift of our baptism.

A month after the Day of Pentecost, the wheel of the year will welcome another summer solstice; summer's unfolding parallels the early part of the Sundays after Pentecost. Long ago the band Spirit sang, "I've Got a Line on You" because "the summer, she's coming on strong." Spirit! Just listen to that name! During the great fifty days of Easter, the lectionary gospel texts have showed us quite a few misunderstandings of Jesus' call to serve, and by extension, confusion regarding our baptismal call to life as God's servant people in Christ Jesus.

I love reminding my adult Sunday School class Romans 8 reminds us all creation waits for us to be revealed {to all creation} as true offspring of God, as people who authentically reflect and embody God's image as careful stewards of all the earth, all creation just as Jesus would. In fact, that passage is the appointed second reading or epistle for Trinity Sunday in this lectionary year B:

Romans 8

19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God ... 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

I love reminding my class when we claim our divine image in the Spirit, creation itself will be set free from death and decay and enjoy the same bounded freedom we humans do as God's presence on earth. I frequently point out the same Spanish word – esperar, espero, and cognates – means hope, wait, and expect.

The days and the nights of summer convey a sense of lush, full, completeness. Spring's yellow-green has turned richer and darker; seeds have displayed their once-hidden promise in fruits, veggies, berries, and blooms.

The late James Agee {A Death in the Family; Knoxville, Summer of 1915} wrote about summer with a poem later set to music for a solo vocalist by Samuel Barber, for mixed choir by Morten Lauridsen:
Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars.

I've been enjoying the PCUSA's Daily Office app that follows a 2-year, standalone {not related to the Revised Standard Lectionary} daily lectionary. This morning's psalms were 96 and 148; both psalms are appointed for all the Christmas/Nativity liturgies in all three lectionary years!!! Psalm 96 charges humans and "all the earth" to sing a new song to the Lord, with happy skies, singing trees, rejoicing prairies, roaring waters. Psalm 148 demands sun, moon, stars, mountains, fruit trees, cedars—and people, too praise the Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God.

During this season of the Spirit, time of the Church, we act upon and celebrate the reality of the Holy Spirit of life, the Spirit of resurrection from the dead that fills all creation and that we specifically receive as a gift of our baptism.

This denomination emphasizes God's Work, Our Hands. Does everyone have a chrome orange slogan t-shirt? {I have two: one from one of my churches in Previous City, one from my church in Current City.} In the SS class I facilitate, we've talked a lot about neighborology—the word about the neighbor. Especially during these great fifty days of Easter, particularly in John's gospel and Luke's Acts of the Apostles we've considered the shape, form, and function of the servant church God calls and enables us to be. Now we're moving into another Season of the Spirit, Time of the Church.

Now we're moving into another Season of the Spirit, Time of the Church. God's promises in the Spirit through Paul of Tarsus' letter to the church at Rome, the psalmist's word imagery of creation fully alive look exactly like the realization of God's work done by our hands, voices, hearts, and feet. Like the band Spirit, in the power of the Spirit of Life, we've got a line on all creation.

Amen? Amen!


This typescript of my page of sparse notes probably is close to what I actually said four months ago; like most people, I tend to say the same things over and over. When I assembled this talk, summer with its long, sun-filled days officially was four weeks on the horizon, only ten days out in the popular sense. As I blog on this September Thursday evening, late summer's shadows, shortening daylight, and a settled sense of completeness rivals James Agee's whole hearts of earth in the grasp of high summer.

Recently admitting I'm doing less with my gifts and education, participating less in church and world, even earning less in my design endeavor than during my last bleak year in Previous City has made me weary and thoughtful. Like someone in a small town with declining population and departing industry, I relocated north to Current City because I'd mined all possible opps where I was. Like Mary Chapin Carpenter's sibling in "Only A Dream," I departed Previous City leaving no sign of someone who expects to be back, though I left the bed in the old condo, gave the desk to the son of a good friend.

Please tell me all this was only a dream and I'll wake up to something new?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Season of Creation 2B • Humanity

Season of Creation 2B - Humanity

You have made them
a little lower than God
and crowned humanity
with glory and honor.
Psalm 8:5

Original B&W faces art by Prawny via RGB Stock; recolored by me in my suntreeriver design identity.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

It's Momplicated :: Debbie Alsdorf & Joan Kay

On Amazon—It's Momplicated: Hope and Healing for Imperfect Daughters of Imperfect Mothers by Debbie Alsdorf and Joan Edwards Kay

It's Momplicated front coverThis is a most amazing book! Co-authors Debbie and Joan have solid psychological and scriptural backgrounds, so "It's Momplicated" is super-sound in terms of contemporary psychological practices; it's firmly grounded in Old and New Testament scriptures. Everyone needs to read it and gain more wisdom regarding relationships, though authors and launch team particularly focused on women because even mother-daughter relationships that have experienced lifelong sweetness never are quite perfect. As a grateful member of the launch team, for me the best aspect of the book (so far) are short case studies or vignettes that help clarify what's within a normal range and what's way far outside normal, expected, and acceptable.

Without delving into much of my own pain or history, I've previously mentioned learning about some of my late mother's history and struggles has helped me understand her in general along with providing perspective on her often outrageous, hurtful, treatment of me. Though like every human she had her faults, my maternal grandmother was an almost constant nurturing presence from my early years until her death at 96 years old; by the time I reached high school, she'd often comment on some of my mother's – her elder daughter's – out of line behaviors. Page 33: "When we realize our mothers faced difficulties, we may think it insensitive to acknowledge our wounds. ... However, the fact your mother faced personal trials does not remove the reality your needs were not met." We can carry over this realization to all sides of all our relationships.

Ideas I plan to start implementing right away include: page 54–realizing when we're not doing something or thinking about something in particular, our minds return to a default network; page 64—not so much focusing on my mother's mistakes as on my needs as a daughter and taking positive steps toward healing; page 72—when an event or rejection triggers negative feelings, ask if it's a legitimate concern or not.It's Momplicated back cover

Besides rich revelations related to both authors' mom-daughter situations and those of anonymous others, we get many opportunities to put the Serenity Prayer into practice, an "Explore Your Story," and a written "Connect with God" prayer for each of the dozen chapters. It's Momplicated is a prayer book, a journaling opportunity, and a workbook. As I plan to do my second time through, I'd strongly suggest starting a new journal book or spiral-bound notebook (my choice for serious life reflections), or whatever format works best for you to take best advantage of the content.

Notice of material connection: I received a free pre-publication copy of this book from author, publicist, agent, or publisher with no obligation to write a positive review. As always, I've expressed my own opinions in this review.

my Amazon review: relational wisdom

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Porch Stories :: August & Summer 2018

summer summary header

• Time to summarize another meteorological season and review the month almost past! I've been neglecting writing a weekly Porch Story and haven't blogged anything else. Most often I pick up the same topic as Porch Stories host Kristin, but despite formatting my porch header image at least a dozen times for a post that never happened, as August concludes with a seasonally sunny southern California day and urban foresters noisily trimming magnolias up and down the street, I'll claim two of Kristin's recent themes:
• trusting the time keeper

• changes and seasons

• and I'm participating in Emily P. Freeman's summer 2018 seasonal linkup.

porch stories Changes and Seasons summer 2018 blueberries August 2018 porch story

• Today (I'm illustrating more blueberries because they've been abundant and succulent) I finally link up again with Kristin's Stories from the Porch in August. I love how she divides her months into categories!

• Although this month's overview is image- rather than text-heavy (but not because of the old Photoshop sub-app ImageReady), its progression from the 2nd to the 28th plus August including outings and activities provides you, the blog visitor, a sense of trusting the Time Keeper and Life Giver with changes and seasons. At the end I don't say any more about this journey, about railroad tracks, or about homecoming, yet all those were all over desert spirit's fire! during my last few years in Previous City. You can look under labels tell the story, tellingthestory, and life stuff.

• To say I'm still extremely discouraged is an understatement, yet symbols as ordinary as a stack of dishes on the shelf (color-filled stock photo from unsplash, but I could've pictured kitchen actuals), the agricultural cycle doing its thing, the church's year of grace keepin' on keepin' on till by now it's run three-quarters of its course continue to remind me to trust the Divine Time Keeper who self-reveals in commonest everyday objects and events, whose claims to fame include subverting the status quo and resurrection from the dead. (If resurrection isn't "subverting a status quo," what could it be, what could be?) Not long ago friend Sara I met in Previous City when we were neighbors blogged about praying intently and incessantly for a couple of years about a situation, almost decided the Time Keeper must have gotten things wrong (so for a short while almost rejected God's surprise answer), then by grace realized it was Heaven's gig, not hers or her family's. This sixteen plus year long blog (still!) remains my testimony to my life being Heaven's gig, not mine...

mid-August railroad tracks

• Railroad tracks are a major new world icon. Visiting Promontory Point was a touristy highlight of my entire life—or minimally of my mixed reviews years in A Former City in the Intermountain West. Railroad tracks are the Wolverine and the New England States humming underneath my berth (riding the train because logically that meant we were rich so didn't need to consider time passages, ha ha (and to minimize chances of another of "Lost Luggage in Cleveland" incident?).) Maybe. Train tracks mean Previous City to Current City to Previous City.... on the Amtrak. Train tracks mean waiting for the Buddliner south to North Station on a snowy late December evening in Salem; they're endless freight cars alongside the freeway as we returned home from Idaho late on a Sunday evening; countless freight cars accompanying our drive back to Previous City from any of JS's many concerts late on any weekday evening. More than anything, railroad tracks still are Al Stewart singing, "Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight." Name of the song? Time Passages! This photo pictures the tracks around the corner from where I'm living; the header for another of my other recent monthly rundown blogs featured tracks around the corner from my place in South Central.

Painting Day at church

• First Saturday in August at church we hosted a visit from famous artist John August Swanson and a demonstration of woven paintings from our office manager. I've finally divided my notebook portfolio into five sections, and showed off two to John August. I'd describe him as "beyond excited and impressed" with what I'd done.

Glendale August

• Green Team met again in Glendale. No excellent art or other fun stuff from the resident school, but I captured some greenery in late summer glory.

Hermosa Beach Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach Hermosa Beach

• A short post-Glendale side trip to the Farmer's Market in Hermosa (lovely, beautiful, gorgeous) Beach and still more examples of what a major architectural treat Current City can be.

Hollywood Bowl banner Hollywood Bowl entryway
Hollywood bowl Hollywood Bowl

• The morning of Tuesday 21 August at Hollywood Bowl, "Where Summer Plays," meant huge excitement of an open rehearsal with LA Phil, Gustavo Dudamel The Dude, guest violinist Itzhak Perlman. Two famous pieces formed the program: Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony No. 6 and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Parks and Recreation oversees or manages – or both – Hollywood Bowl.

moon flower dry seedpods eight moon flowers moon flower seedpod and seeds

• Backyard bed of moonflowers has been constantly interesting as I've watched spiky fresh green pods full of unready seeds gradually turn brown and then burst open. First picture on kitchen table shows how open pods form graceful flutes; next pic is from the morning of 28 August and a rare total of eight new blooms; third is an open pod and seeds beside the garden bed. Pods won't and can't break open until the seeds inside are ready to open them; the seeds won't be ready until sufficient time has passed. Etc. You know!

• Moonflowers/ datura have been a daily reminder of trusting the time keeper plus trusting changes and seasons. I need to figure out an analogy in my own life to the flowers that bloom mid-evening, stay bright and wide open only until the next mid-morning, yet always always, more are on the way, now and then missing a day.

Emily Freeman summer 2018r

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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Porch Story :: July 2018

• Porch Stories host Kristin takes a retrospective glance at July; I'll do the same.

About Time

porch stories July 2018 summary

porch stories July rundown

• Trains run on a preplanned, often published schedule, sometimes on time, sometimes not. Most of us anticipate life will run on a schedule, but life doesn't very often happen within the parameters we set for it. However, we still need to plan, we still need to hope and expect—because otherwise the world would stop spinning? Not quite, but a lot of essential services wouldn't happen, a lot of basic needs wouldn't get met.

• I haven't yet opened it, but I noticed the "Career, Job, Calling?" subject line in today's email from The High Calling, a site about Theology of Work.

Dreams Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

• As I still keep agonizing why the life of service I dreamt of, had been gifted to do, had taken advantage of opportunities to develop the gifts into high-level skills could have crashed and burned so badly, I never quit quoting Eric Andersen's It's not the times, it's just the dreams that die.

• What do I want to talk about when we meet on my porch? Most often I turn the spotlight over to my guests. That's ironic, because I'm very much an outgoing classic extrovert and I adore being the center of attention. I want to talk about myself. I don't want anyone to explain anything to me; I've already almost choked to death on untenable rationalizations.

moon flowers

• Typically two to four backyard moonflowers bloom each evening; here's a group of nine from early July. Several seedpods are getting ready to burst so more flowers can blossom. Seed times and harvests also are about time; the seeds can't break open the shell until they're ready.

porch flag 2018

• The USA's Fourth of July birthday – Independence Day – is my favorite holiday. No special activities this year, but during most of July we flew the Stars and Stripes from the actual front porch.

• Every July is blogoversary month! 2018 marked desert spirit's fire Sweet 16!

4 o'clocks 4 o'clock 4 o'clock

• Four O'Clocks flower only at 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. "People have seasons," I observed during one of our Monday evening women's bible studies that met at my home the first time I lived in Previous City. Not a novel declaration in the least, but everyone instantly picked up on it, probably because everyone always needs to be reminded life is not about constantly producing and endlessly contributing to The Greater Good. A good life includes times of lying fallow; life needs times of receiving rather than giving.

• You may have noticed I didn't include any outings or events for July. Way back in those bygone days, whatever happened to be going on in my life, I always loved summer. I always wanted summer to last forever. Then a few years ago life became so dicey even summer didn't cut it any more. My previous three summers (2015, 2016, 2017) in Current City I still had a sense of excitement and anticipation, but now, for 2018, I gotta yell out loud to tell everyone I haven't yet rewoven a life of adequate participation—of both giving and receiving. By any measure or standard. This has not been a fun summer... I hardly can wait till it's over; I can't wait to experience what God will do next ... but I still need to plan and prepare.

• Wherever the place, whenever the time, I cannot let my dreams die.

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