Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Winter & February 2019

porch stories icon 2019

winter 2019 summary

February 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Meteorological winter is over for the northern hemisphere; Porch Stories host Kristin writes about her full...

Stories from the Porch in February

• Just as at the conclusion of every season, I'm linking to Emily P. Freeman's quarterly reflection.

• With spring on the way, this blog post doubles as a winter summary:

here's December 2018;

• and January 2019.

• I'm still doing my best to deal with more unexpected disappointment along with envisioning future possibilities; part of dealing means finding interesting activities.

• LA Metro has been holding a series of Transit Workshops around town; I enjoyed the one in nearby Inglewood City Hall, and also appreciated a tasty free meal.

• Santa Monica Church in Santa Monica, The Vital Worship Grants Program of the Calvin Institute of Worship, and the Lilly Endowment has been sponsoring Honest to God: Encountering the Psalms.

ยช On the third Saturday of February, I had an amazing opportunity to be Ecumenical and Reformed with the Geneva Psalter and its metrical descendants with ultra-renowned John Witvliet from Calvin College and Seminary. Participants even received a copy of Psalms for All Seasons, with several musical settings of each psalm.

• Another stellar presenter, Paul Ford, told us more about Psalms and the Lectionary that I'd previously known on February's fourth Saturday.

• On Oscars night (here in LA, yay!) a couple dozen of us watched Occupation 101 at the judicatory offices and received a Live Generously Thrivent t-shirt—what a great color! We savored a yummy middle eastern dinner, as well.

winter 2019 Emily Freeman

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Five Minute Friday :: Confident

Around a year ago and counting backwards, I used to play Five Minute Friday almost every week, but quit when the going got tough. Oh, not the suggested one-word prompts and not my imagination; everyday life in general kept presenting itself to me with too many overwhelms. I barely could crawl, and for sure couldn't add anything more. Maybe you've heard or read about someone doing something "on a lark?" That's what I did this evening when I realized it was another Thursday and larked over to the FMF site. And realized I might like to write about confidence or confidence. BTW, some of the resources for writers FMF host Kate Motaung offers might interest you.

five minute friday confident

Take five:

It's been raining in southern California—not sure if the storm that tapered off then ended this afternoon was the sixth, seventh, or another this calendar year. I didn't need an online resource to figure out confident combines Latin words con=with and fi=faith, trust, belief. I didn't need to think hard to realize i trust my abilities because God gave them to me and provided opportunities and experiences that developed them well. I don't need to think long or tall to remember my confidence the sun will shine again.

It's been eons longer than a day since I've seen myself around town. Am I confident I'll see myself again? No. Not at all. Sometimes my body reels with grief as I sit at the computer working on a client design. Often I get up, go out, take a walk, distract myself any way I can.

I'll be waiting right here for myself until the day I'm home. Back in Previous City, the first time I heard Phillip Phillips' "though this wave is stringing us alone, just know you're not alone 'cause I'm going to make this place your home" moved me to want to search for home again. It was at a Blue Christmas service, and then the song kept playing everywhere I went. I can't make my own home. Will anyone anywhere make a home for me ever again? Waves stringing me along? These waves are triple overheads! I know the sun will shine again, but I have no confidence I'll ever be home again.

five minute friday confident five minute friday new button

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Dusti Bowling :: 24 Hours in Nowhere

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling on Amazon

24 hours in nowhere coverAs a lover of middle school novels, I enjoyed this adventure that's short in elapsed time, long in lives transformed—though the dense kids in the cave descriptions that completely bored me probably would interest or entice most middle-school kids.

Long ago the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona claimed my heart. I've passed through Casa Grande that's a named landmark for the book's characters; I've seen urban and remote rural Arizona nowheres. I know all indigenous Arizona-born people aren't from the same nation, and I wonder around the phenomena of the current state of Arizona being and acting both Old South and Wild West, so I easily placed myself in the southwestern geography.

In Dusti Bowling's 24 Hours in Nowhere, European descent White, Indigenous, and Latinx kids all reside somewhere in the tiny place called Nowhere (tiny, yes, yet this Nowhere has two bars); all have experienced fractured and scattered families of origin; all need a future. You don't need to have spent many hours as a parent of teens or tweens or whiled away much time online to realize how mean both girls and boys can be; if you've been on Facebook much, you've likely encountered more than a few chronologically mature adults that chronically personify meanness. Those unfortunates just may be what happens when kids grow up with unchecked meanness.

Especially shared difficulties that necessitate finding a solution together can create understanding and compassion between people of any age, and these kids found themselves in exactly those circumstances. To an extent the narrative plays through in expected ways, but Bowling redemptively brings both flawed and graced humanity into a chronicle that concludes with all the kids knowing each is incomplete without the others, resolving friendship and togetherness during the next school year.

"Our table has an open-door policy," Tohono O’odham girl Rossi said. "Anyone is welcome." [page 256]

my amazon review: a desert adventure in friendship

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Porch Story :: January 2019

porch stories icon 2019

January 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Though I'm still in Southern California, I designed a cold winter header for my January summary blog because most of the USA and Canada are experiencing record cold temps and corresponding unheard of wind chill factors.

• Porch stories host Kristin also writes About January.

• On the actual day of the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrated the installation of our settled pastor who's served as interim for the past almost three years.

Epiphany 2019

• Epiphany Sunday afternoon, J and I enjoyed a spontaneous excursion to Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden.

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

• This year's MLK Day celebration was in the nearby city of Hawthorne—all of everywhere around here literally is Los Angeles.

Trinity Church Hawthorne Sign MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Tree MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019
Program Cover MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Litany of Libations MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019

• Three of the Stained Glass Windows from the our MLK Day host, Trinity Church, Hawthorne.

Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Porch Story :: December 2018

porch stories 2019

Los Angeles 2018 yay

• Porch Stories host Kristin chose Faithful as her word for 2019. Will I claim a guiding star word to follow during 2019? Along with the number of books for my good reads challenge, I don't yet know. On this second day of January, I'm letting life gradually reveal itself. Like the month's namesake Janus, on this second day of January I'm glancing backward with my December photos and by pre-dating this post for the last day of December, hoping forward with a still shiny new liturgical year, with a very recently born calendar year.

• My first Porch Story of 2019 summarizes December 2018—last calendar month of the year, first four weeks of the church's New Year of Grace that included all four Sundays of Advent, Christmas Eve/Day, and the First Sunday of Christmas. As usual for my monthly roundups, I don't have much commentary or many observations, but I did collect a few pictures.

lessons and carols 2018

• From long ago at Harvard's Memorial Church when you needed a ticket to attend one of the two or three offerings, to truly truncated versions at a series of almost random local churches, to my fourth time in Current City, a Service of Lessons and Carols has become a perennial for me. I designed the cover for this year's Second Sunday of Advent Lessons and Carols.

Christmas Trees 2018

• Christmas Trees trio: in Glendale from our December 14th environmental meeting; in the bordering city of Torrance from the rehab where my landlady has been staying; {one of several decorated Nativity Trees} at the West LA church.

Christmas Eve 2018

• Although I didn't get an good enough photo of the worship bulletins stacked up in the narthex, their design and the Facebook page banner coordinated with this postcard I designed for Christmas Eve. I attended out of obligation because I'd missed the late afternoon service at the nearby church, but quietly spectacular choir and instrumental music gave me no regrets.

Sizzler Christmas Day 2018

• Since back when I lived on the Wasatch front I've been a Sizzler fan because they have one of the best salad bars, the atmosphere approaches fine dining, but it's never stuffy or formal. Plus it's perfect for a friend, friends, a group, or a crowd, For Christmas Day dinner, long-time friend A and I enjoyed a wonderfully celebratory meal at the closest Sizzler; afterwards we enjoyed conversation and much-needed dreaming.

Christmas 01 Flowers

• For the First Sunday of Christmas I played guest keyboards at church and brought home one of the bouquets of chancel flowers.

• Did you notice my L.A. Yay header banner? I still love Current City, and hope to make it work a lot better than it has been.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Porch Story :: John the Baptist

porch stories 2019

Desert Museum 07
Sonoran Desert Wilderness near Tucson, Arizona

Porch Story host Kristin features guest Beth Johnson this week.

My long ago previous city next door neighbor Sara blogged for the first time in ages with an amazing account; today's porch story expends my comment to Sara...

"The magic in the ordinary!" This entire post is so amazing! The song "Live Like You Were Dying" has it right—if we knew this was our last day on earth, what would we do? What would our concern be? New Zealand must have been a dream come true—and the power and grace of your Dad's priesthood blessing will stay with you forever!

True about living life in ordinary, small things. I teach the adult SS class at my church; next Sunday we'll be talking about John the Baptist in Luke 3:7-18 as he instructs people (a brood of vipers who need to repent) how to get ready for the arrival of God in their midst in the person of his cousin Jesus. Do you remember John and Jesus were very close in age? J the B's official church birthday is June 25, right after the summer solstice; although Jesus's birth likely was during the season of spring, we celebrate his birthday right after the winter solstice, on December 25. Birthdays of increasing and decreasing light symbolize nicely John's observation, "Jesus must increase, I must decrease." Actions of Jesus' followers – ordinary, everyday lives of those baptized with water and with fire – become a big aspect of Jesus' presence increasing and growing on earth.

Luke 3:7-18

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." 10And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" 11In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" 13He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." 14Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." 18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Your entire account reminded me:

Maybe especially smart people (like us!?) imagine doing things the world will consider amazing—teaching elementary school in the inner city, serving as a mostly pro-bono attorney for marginalized populations, serving a non-English speaking mission in a semi-exotic place, parenting a bunch of kids all of whom go on to get a PhD or MD and save their corner of the world... you know! But Jesus' cousin tells us to get ready for The Coming One by living life simply where we already are and sharing essentials like clothing and food. He doesn't even advise tax collectors and soldiers who are in the employ of the occupying Roman government to quit their jobs that potentially oppress and even could bankrupt people. We basically need to bloom where we're planted, and do everything the best we can with fairness and righteousness.

Two Sundays ago in my intro to Luke's gospel, I said Luke emphasizes:

• neighborology – the word about the neighbor! During Luke's Year C the lectionary includes quite a few readings from jeremiah and Deuteronomy that also center around the neighbor, the other, living together faithfully in covenantal community.

• Starting with John the Baptist down by the riverside counseling people to share what they have with others in order to prepare for the arrival of God in our midst, we find a lot of "social gospel" throughout Luke,. However, this isn't let's see how many good works we humans can accomplish on our own; it's always about the indwelling and outgoing power of the Holy Spirit.

I added Luke's...

• Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6:17-49 – is about re-distributive justice and material well-being. Matthew's parallel Sermon on the Mount is more about spiritual well-being.

Would God among us not be an alleluia moment, a time to sing praises?! In this riverside narrative, John the Baptist has people preparing for God's arrival in their midst by starting to live as he knew Jesus would teach us to be and to act; when that happens, everyone will shout alleluias!

This scripture passage anticipates the same Luke's Acts of the Apostles where everyone has everything in common, where members of the nascent church literally provide for the common good. In the way Jesus showed us, economic and distributive justice is very spiritual! Acts includes some pretty amazing accounts of missions to fairly distant places, too, but more than anything, it's about serving the people, people, people, right here in this very place, giving of ourselves and our excess. This is the outcome of the presence in our lives of the One who baptizes with cleansing water and purifying fire. We become part of the magic of the ordinary for our neighbors.

Just as Matthew never lets up on justice and righteousness, Luke never lets up on living for the other, for the neighbor, correcting the imbalance of some having more than they need, others trying to get by with less. Early on in Acts 2:

42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear [the Greek here is an awe-filled type of fear, not fright] came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and distributed the proceeds to all, as any one had need.

Luke (and Jesus!) never let up until everyone gathers as equals around the welcome table of a bountiful eschatological feast that is the reign of heaven on earth.

Can you tell I'm preparing for Sunday?

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Autumn & November 2018 • Porch Story

porch story 28 November 2018

porch story 28 November 2018

• Porch Stories host Kristin features a guest with another inspiring adoption story.

• It's the end of meteorological autumn; that means I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman's quarterly List of Learnings.



• With September 2018 inactive in terms of recordable activities, for the first time in more than a couple years I didn't post an end-of-month summary, but I blogged seven times: four with my art for Season of Creation; a book review for a launch team I served on; a Green Team talk from last spring I finally transcribed; and a porch story reflections on a possible very local church inspired by April Fiet's question on Facebook—looks as if I need to find a photo or create a graphic for that one. Blogging was rich; everyday living? on a much less rich, low-calorie bill of fare than usual.


October was an active one, with LA Metro Conference Assembly, Blessing of the Animals, God's Work – Our Hands Sunday, Pacific Air Show, Reformation 501, and the fourth Boston Red Sox World Series title of this century. I know, I live in Dodger Land and can't imagine living elsewhere, but my heart belongs to Red Sox Nation.


Theodore Payne Nursery Theodore Payne Nursery

• Green Team met again in Glendale, where I talked about encouraging spring flowers into bloom by arranging their temps so they think they've experienced winter. Afterwards? A visit to Theodore Payne Foundation's native plant nursery.

Thanksgiving Day West LA

• Earlier in the month, for the first time in almost forever, I went to craft day where we made seasonal Harvest Style Swag to help prepare for Thanksgiving Day Harvest Feast IV in West Los Angeles.

Emily P Freeman What I learned Fall 2018

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