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.

Backtracking

September

• 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

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.

November

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

porch stories button

Monday, November 19, 2018

green team talk :: bulbs roots beauty

• The Lord is with you!
• And also with you.

crocusThe church's year of grace will conclude nine days from now, and then we start another season of Advent anticipation. We count each day as we look forward to winter solstice and to the birth of the Son of Light we know as light of the world a few days later. People who follow the practical and spiritual way of the wheel of the year also yearn for light and excitedly anticipate the winter solstice; their celebration of the festival of Yule coincides with our festival of Noël.

For several years I've been following the 2-year standalone daily lectionary that's separate from the Revised Common lectionary. Specifically, I've been enjoying the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s daily office app that draws upon the daily lectionary for its scripture readings; this is the week of the prophet Joel. Most likely Joel wrote after the Babylonian exile. God's people already had escaped bondage and slavery to empires of Egypt and Babylon; now yet another empire, Persia, impinged on people's lives and freedom. Whether nation-state or trans-national industry, empires appear to be here to stay, so we need to learn ways to counter them.

21Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! 22Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. Joel 2:21-22

In Joel 2:21 we hear the constant biblical admonition, do not fear, don't be afraid! This time Joel addresses what the NRSV interprets as "soil." The Hebrew language uses the same word for earth, land, soil, dirt, ground; which one it refers to depends upon context. In Genesis God gives earth to humans as a gift and as a charge.The earth of Genesis becomes the land of Deuteronomy. The land of Deuteronomy becomes the heaven under our feet of well-tended, carefully stewarded turf in promised land Canaan, and in our cities and towns, as well. Joel assures the land and the residents upon the land prairies will be green again, trees will flower, vines will yield abundance.

Maybe especially as days become shorter, nights get longer, we long for light that brings life, for beauty that's evidence of life. Did you know flower bulbs including daffodils, amaryllis, jonquils, tulips. crocuses, hyacinth, grape hyacinth {a green team member added iris, and then there's narcissus}, carry anticipation of new, eastered life within them? Those bulbs contain everything necessary for new life! That is, they contain almost all the essentials for new life. Everything except winter. We can provide winter for spring bulbs by placing them in a cold place for six or eight weeks. In the LA coastal basin or one of our inland climates, a fridge probably is the best option, though if you're in mountains or desert, the garage or an unheated basement might get chilly enough long enough. crocusHushed, quiet, still, chill of winter is essential to make roots that literally give the bulbs power to make flowers; winter temps allow bulbs to grow long, deep roots. When bulbs spend enough time in the cold, they think they've experienced winter, and they grow life-giving roots. Empires and struggles are here to stay; surrounding ourselves with beauty is one way to counter them.

In scripture, well-cared-for land becomes a heaven under our feet and produces food for human and critter consumption, flowers and trees for beauty and overall planetary health. Especially in the wake of out of our control disasters like the recent night club shooting and state-wide forest fires, we need beauty to keep going on with our lives. I'm going to chill some crocus bulbs so I can anticipate and enjoy eastered new life before the season of winter's technically even over. What's your plan?

To God alone be glory; amen!

Friday 16 November 2018 • Glendale

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Porch Story :: October 2018

October Days 2018

desert spirit's fire October Happenings

porch story 31 October Happenings

• Porch Stories host Kristin had a wonderfully full month with her family. Unlike September, the tenth month gifted me with several interesting activities.

LA Metro Conference Assembly

• Very early in October some of God's people from congregations in the Los Angeles Metro Conference (basically a local division of Southwest California Synod that's our mid-level judicatory) met for worship, breaking of bread, fellowship, conversation, and a view into a possible future.

• Artistic skies make early nightfall worthwhile.
• How do you like the cross of hands on the door?
• As at many church gatherings, we had Subway subs for dinner.

early October night skies hands cross subway sandwiches

Second Annual Critter Blessing

• With Annual Blessing of the Animals Take 2 incorporated into Sunday morning worship, a few people brought their pets, but more of us went with pictures of our companion critters along with endangered parts of creation that especially concerned us.

blessing of the animals blessing of the animals blessing of the animals

God's Work Our Hands

• We went very local in the church campus backyard for an installment of the denomination's God's Work Our Hands initiative and put together several hundred nutritious lunch bags to help feed the area's transient population.

God's Work Our Hands

Air Show

• This year I enjoyed the Huntington Beach Pacific Air Show from a friend's front yard, with some gorgeous trees as a backdrop; her kittehs stayed inside. Before visiting the website, I hadn't realized it was the biggest air show in the country!

air show 2018 air show 2018 air show 2018

Reformation 2018

• The year 2017 was Reformation 500, a major worldwide celebration. I designed my worship folder cover for Reformation 501 to convey a sense of continuing faithful re-formation and revitalization in the power of the Holy Spirit of life.

Reformation 2018 narthex scene

Red Sox Nation 2018

• I've belonged to Red Sox Nation almost forever; this year (my City of History, as this blog refers to it) Boston's American League team won their fourth world series title of this century! Living in Current City 3+ years means I'm no longer a Previous City transplant, so technically the Dodgers are my team, but you know... no illustrations because I wasn't at the game.

porch stories button

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Write31Days2018 • October 17 Pause • Porch Story

day 17 pause

porch stories 17 October pause

Edited later to say I quit the October 31 days writing challenge (and may or may not retrieve and finish it), but I'm republishing this episode because it's a Porch Story.

Kristin's Porch Story for today is a wonderful one about her family's recent Caribbean cruise.

Whether or not you're a musician, you may realize pauses and rests or are as important to the overall effect of a piece of music as are individual notes, harmonies, instrumental timbres, and venue acoustics. On my porch story icon I very lightly wrote "Pause" in barely there Helvetica Neue Ultra Light Condensed (but increased the tracking some). Seems as if sections of my past couple of decades mainly have consisted of long pauses. How many times have I observed on this blog Life Has Seasons? Similar to music, life includes times of high productivity and intense engagement with the world interspersed with months and years as fallow as ground in winter—or maybe that's as still and hope-filled as farmland settled into jubilee sabbath?

When I wrote, "sections of my past couple of decades mainly have consisted of long pauses," that had to mean discoverable audible music between the pauses, because without the main music there can't be any pauses, rests, or other interruptions. I'll easily admit there has been discernible activity and literal music. Quite a lot of it.

However...

People realistically expect skills, education, and experience partly to determine the extent they contribute to the greater good. But overall, have my past decades been as lightly inscribed into my surroundings as a word in ultra light Helvetica Neue?

porch stories button

write 31 days 2018 potpourri graphic

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 10 Boots • Porch Story

write 31 days 2018 Boots

porch stories 10 October But I like boots

Edited later to say I quit the October 31 days writing challenge (and may or may not retrieve and finish it), but I'm republishing this episode because it's a Porch Story.

Porch Stories host Kristin writes a long one about her daughter Rachel wanting to do, wanting to get almost everything that occurs to her because... "but I like it!". As Kristin explains, our self-willed impulses generally even out as we grow older, closer to God, and seek to align our actions with what's best for everyone.

When I chose my daily prompt from the lists Crystal provided, it had to be boots for today! Though at times I've enjoyed shorter and taller ones, most days I wear one of my pairs of what they (actually!) call combat boots. They look fun and urban with most skirts, pants, and dresses; they even go okay with shorts, though if I won't be walking much, usually when I wear shorts I rock sandals—either flip-flops or huaraches. In a cityside stroll, boots support my ankles better than tennis shoes/sneakers. Despite the firmness plus the comfort they provide, I don't wear boots because I like them!, but I've discovered a lot of other people really like my boots, so I want to wear boots because other people like them! Yay! I can't count the times people on the street, at an event or meeting venue, on the subway, in the park have complimented me because they like my boots!

On the other side of likes and preferences, I'm currently highly stressed and very distressed; I need to figure out how to regain my life, which means daring not to do optional things I'd rather not do if and/or when they're not essential to my economic or practical survival or that of others. This year's Write31Days is an example... unlike last year's Celebrating Place I'd wanted to do almost forever, I had no series topic in mind. Unlike the previous year of five minute free writes, I had no impulsive desire to illustrate every post. But I like boots, so I'm writing about them for this day 10.

porch stories button

write 31 days 2018 potpourri graphic

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 03 Sweet Spots

write 31 days 2018 sweet spots

porch stories 03 October Sweet Spots

Edited later to say I quit the October 31 days writing challenge (and may or may not retrieve and finish it), but I'm republishing this episode because it's a Porch Story.

It's Wednesday, so it's blogging doubles with Write 31 Days and Kristin Hill Taylor's Porch Stories, where this week Kristin writes about The sweet spots of Washington, D.C. she and Greg discovered on their recent trip. I'm picking up Kristin's topic.

With double faults and sweet spots, tennis can get challenging, tennis can be fun when you let it be by not taking it too too seriously. We all seek that best results, least effort sweet spot on our rackets. We look for sweet spots in relationships and activities, too. Relationship sweet spots happen when your conversation partner gets what you're telling them and does not offer an analysis or a solution, when you're in a lovely natural setting and know you're both (or y'all y'all) part of creation with a common dream of keeping the good good, helping making the less good better.

You can read about some of my sweet spot places and spaces in my Write 31 Days 2017; it even includes pictures! Short version? The Desert that revives and restores me, The City that holds my heart top my list of geographical sweet spots.

From a magazine ad for illustration board:

In the beginning, a small bell chimed. Creativity! It chimes at the heart of the human spirit. Remember the first time you spoke to the world...?

The literal full-body, mind, and spirit excitement of drawing, painting, or laying out a design that's going well is my ultimate sweet spot. Maybe as a writer. a cook, a baker, a musician, a knitter, or any other kind of artist, you know that sweet feeling and that sweet place? Nothing better ever!

porch stories button

write 31 days 2018 potpourri graphic

Monday, October 01, 2018

Jeannie Marie • Across the Street and Around the World

Across the Street and Around the World: Following Jesus to the Nations in Your Neighborhood…and Beyond by Jeannie Marie on Amazon

across the street and around the world book coverYou don't need to be either Christian or considering local or international travel to a culture different from yours to benefit immensely from Across the Street and Around the World, yet if you're in either situation, and supremely if you're Christian and venturing into a nearby or across the globe community of mostly immigrants or refugees or permanent residents unlike yourself, so much the best.

Jeannie Marie reminds us everyone is not "all the same," so don't ever assume they are. Her experiences with people in Eastern – primarily Muslim – countries held high value and interest for me. I have enough basic western smarts to know (for example) despite North American culture possessing a sameness, every state and each province has quirky distinctions we need to watch out for and may not understand at first encounter. Hey, we may not even understand their regionally accented English!

Everyone everywhere is not all the same, so don't ever assume they are. "In the Gospels Jesus didn't offer the same good news [gospel] in the same way to everyone. How he offered good news always depended on the person's immediate visible need—and his or her inner felt need." (page 88)

Jeannie Marie explains Muslim culture ("culture" encompasses people who practice the religion of Islam and those who aren't necessarily religious but go along with ethnic Muslim culinary and social habits) is honor and shame based with almost no notion of sin and guilt. Although I've never been much concerned with guilt or sin, either, most Western Christians emphasize Jesus obliterating sin and guilt. That absolutely comports with many passages of scripture, and with Jesus' words recorded in Matthew 26:28, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured our for many for the forgiveness of sins," (though best guess is "for the forgiveness of sins" is a gloss by a later redactor to align Jesus' words and actions with passover), but the author makes clear Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension led to a full, abundant life in every way for the entire world, all the people, all creation, and wasn't simply a near-static cancellation of sin and guilt many assume. As we reach out to previously unreached / unengaged people, we need to be like the bible as the written word of God that brings us gospels by Luke the Physician and by John the Beloved, that provides thought-filled practical counsel by James, vivid apocalyptic by John the Revelator, and not offer the same pictures and words about Jesus the living Word of God to everyone.

In the author's world, "field worker" rather than "missionary" is the current term for anyone who lives cross-culturally in order to make disciples for Jesus. Because they contain the "sent" word root, I prefer the old-fashioned missionary and missioner we still use in the protestant mainline, but that's simply an aside.

Field workers, missionaries, Jesus people interacting with other cultures also need to be aware of different life styles and worship styles amongst Christians. An individual's post-baptismal apparel isn't necessarily a white shirt and black pants for guys, long skirt and long-sleeved blouse for women. The worshiping assembly may or may not meet in a rectangular room with stained glass windows, a cross, and a plushy red carpet. Friends of Jesus may or may not gather around a round kitchen table for praise, scripture study, breaking bread and drinking wine. Particularly in terms of worship we need to remember worship and hymn-singing in both the spoken and the cultural vernacular languages of the people was one of Reformer Martin Luther's seven marks of the true church.

Although you could describe Jeannie Marie's Christian perspective as conservative evangelical rather than my own more liberal mainline, in the end all of us are about helping lead people to Jesus and thus replace life-denying practices with life-engendering ones. As my review title states, Across the Street and Around the World is solid evangelism and solid anthropology. It's impossible to cite any part of the book as more valuable than any other.

I ordered Jeannie Marie's book especially because the urban church where I'm active is in an ethnically exceptionally diverse urban area and has been successfully reaching out to nearby Iranians; more than a dozen have been baptized and have become active in worship and other activities. As an amazon vine reviewer, I read it as interested individual so didn't do anything with the Small Group Plan, Small Group Bible Reading list, or Recommended Resources for Further Exploration at the end.

my amazon review: fabulous anthropology and evangelism resource