Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Porch Stories: Welcome

Wednesday again! Porch Stories host Kristin Hill Taylor writes about Welcoming Murray State College Kids into her home.

porch stories: welcome

I've written a lot about hospitality on this site; my own experiences of inclusion and exclusion, welcome and rejection have led me to do whatever possible to include everyone in every activity and every place. Basic etymology from dictionary dot com explains:
Old English wilcuma "welcome!" exclamation of kindly greeting, from earlier wilcuma (n.) "welcome guest," literally "one whose coming suits another's will or wish," from willa "pleasure, desire, choice" (see will (n.)) + cuma "guest," related to cuman "to come," from PIE root *gwa- "to go, come." Similar formation in Old High German willicomo, Middle Dutch wellecome.
I've blogged about my own experiences of exclusion; written more than a few paragraphs about being surprised when individuals and communities have welcomed me. For this post I'll wonder how best to react or respond when people don't excitedly welcome me – and my participation – into their corner of the world. I'm equal parts iconoclast and people-pleaser, and though I sure won't change my style, opinions, or approach to make anyone happy or happier, I still want to be part of the scene, still long to feel I belong. It would be non-productive, but I easily could remember and type a long list of times people clearly rejected me but I rationalized that couldn't be—I had to be reading them wrong, so I stayed too long, hoped against evidence. After all, you always need to give people time to be comfortable with you, to convince them you've no plans to take over their place, to do whatever job they've been doing? A little time, yes. But please not forever? in addition, I know it's unreal for me to expect everyone everywhere to be excited whenever they see me, to greet me like their almost forever missing BFF.

I've had a few recent incidents of not being welcomed into settings I assumed would be ecstatic about my background and offers where they obviously pocket vetoed me by not responding to my many emails or texts. Even though I know – likely you do, too – a 2nd or 3rd note always is wise (from all those emails I fully intended to answer a few days or a couple weeks ago but that now are out of sight when I'm in gmail, out of mind except when I'm far away from my email).

My Porch Stories image header features my front porch in a previous city and another life. Times change. People change. Kristin Taylor has written about ways God steered her life in directions quite different from most of what she expected. I still struggle (I still do my specialized rationalizing most of the time) to see what's next, to discern beyond the disappointments. This is not a hunter-gatherer society; I need to go for and claim more.

Years of loss, grief, and disappointment have invaded my body and made me weary all over. Yet the origins of welcome still hold true: to take pleasure in someone's presence, to choose or will them to be with you. Sometimes you need to move out the old furniture in order to make room for the new... yes, you do!

porch stories button

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Place

Over at our new Five Minute Friday headquarters, Kate Motaung hosts a flashmob writing about Place. I hardly can breathe through the grief tonight, but absolutely had to showcase at least one of my "there is a place" designs. I even hand wrote and then typed about 5 minutes of words. So very sorry, because I easily could have scampered through "place"—but evidently not at this time or in this place.

there is a place

From Adam named for earth that birthed him
to Revelation's urban land with leaves that heal, fruit that feeds
God promises freedom from whims of empire
deliverance into a land
because there is a place
a geography

Exodus meant sand underfoot
{wear sandals so you easily can shake out the sand...
that's why they call them sandals}
on to the promised gift of place
where earth becomes The Land
a place of roots and crops and harvests

What is this place?

From Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (1626) the tune is Kömt nu met Zang, with Huub Oosterhuis' text translated by David Smith.
  1. What is this place where we are meeting? Only a house, the earth its floor.
    Walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door.
    Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near.

  2. Words from afar, stars that are falling, sparks that are sown in us like seed:
    names for our God, dreams, signs and wonders sent from the past are all we need.
    We in this place remember and speak again what we have heard:
    God's free redeeming word.

  3. And we accept bread at this table, broken and shared, a living sign.
    Here in this world, dying and living, we are each other's bread and wine.
    This is the place where we can receive what we need to increase:
    our justice and God's peace.

another of my "there is a place" designs—backed up with promise:

promise: there is a place

five minute friday place five minute friday new button

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Porch Stories: Seasons

If you sat on a porch with a friend, what could you tell them about God's Faithfulness in All Seasons? For her Wednesday Porch Story this week, Kristin opens with:
So, let’s focus on how seasons are good. God does something with the seasons – the ones on the calendar and the ones in my heart. I want to take the freedom and pace of Summer Break into the beginning of the school year, when the weather cools for fall, and along wherever else God leads me in the coming days.
porch stories: seasons

"I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises." -Wendell Berry

Each of the four astronomical/meteorological seasons has some predictable characteristics that to some extent relate to geography. Ambient temperature, weather patterns (snow, rain, tornado, monsoon), local fruit and veggies, longer or shorter nights and days, outdoor and indoor activities people incline toward. Climate change is a sad reality, but because God calls humanity to steward creation with the same love God himself would provide, thoughtful, informed attention to the needs of plants, critters, and waterways can start to reverse devastating damages human ignorance and carelessness have caused.

We call spices, herbs, and sauces that add tang, interest, savor and flavor to foods "seasons" or "seasonings." If you've experienced tabasco, oregano, chipotle, worcestershire, or nutmeg, you sort of can predict what it will add to a dish and whether or not you'll like it. You only partly can predict because with curries, pumpkin pie spices, seasoned salts and others (worcestershire!) that are creative blends, you may be surprised.

Kristin refers to seasons on the calendar and seasons in her heart. Poet, farmer, and theologian Wendell Berry tells us his real living hasn't been as much about his own plans and expectations as it has been about God's redeeming his mistakes and missteps—God's surprises in his life. Long ago someone told me I love "the thrill of the chase," and that I do. One reason the slowness, drama, and unexpected innings of baseball intrigue me so! Exactly the way different climates, weather patterns, winter and summer, savory, succulent, or sweet good eats, casual and dressy clothes add interest even to dull disappointing days when nothing much has been happening or too much of the truly wrong events have been going down. All humans everywhere have seasons of grief and loss. Seasons of professional success, of flourishing relationships—for what it's worth to label heart endeavors successful or flourishing.

My own season of sorrow has been endless. Too many years of overwhelming disappointment following high expectations. Human seasons contain predictable elements, but like weather seasons in a carefully-stewarded environment, they also contain the hope of a future, God's promise of new life from every kind of death imaginable. If I sat on a porch with a friend, what would I tell them? About my own losses, failures, unfaithfulness, and sorrow? I hope so, because I trust I've grown some beyond my conviction that my pain is illegitimate, isn't worth talking about. Would I also tell them about God's faithfulness? About God redeeming my mistakes, *even* the sins and missteps of others that have affected me. In the power of the Holy Spirit of life—oh, yes! You know I will!

To God alone be glory!

porch stories button






Saturday, August 05, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Try

Kate Motaung hosts another Five Minute Friday: Try—you know how these work? Write mostly unedited for approximately 5 minutes. If you don't have your own blog, you can play in anyone's comments or in the comments on the new FMF site.

five minute friday try

Try

by Colbie Caillat

Put your makeup on
Get your nails done, curl your hair
Run the extra mile, keep it slim
So they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don't be shy, Girl, take it off
This is what you want, to belong
So they like you, do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

Get your shopping on
At the mall, max your credit cards
You don't have to choose, buy it all
So they like you, do they like you?

Wait a second
Why should you care what they think of you?
When you're all alone, by yourself

Do you like you? Do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to, bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

Take your makeup off
Let your hair down, take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don't you like you? 'Cause I like you

But why do you try too hard? Why do you keep trying so hard you have no life? Why do you try to live someone else's life and not your own?

By some possibly random chance – or maybe not all that random – did you buy fashion mag glossies, welcome lifestyle blogs into your heart, consume social media updates advising you to become what you never could? Would you harm the land that gave us birth, the waters that give us life? Does healing Gaia and restoring rivers not excite your passions more than the constant anxious discomfort of appearing to the outside world what you know you're not? Please don't think or strive or try—please simply be. Be simple. Be true to yourself. Be the unique person God created you to be. Claim your own dreams. Rock your own style. Don't let those hyper-critical, envious others be your mirror. Look in your own mirror. Do you like you? Don't you like yourself? You don't need to change a single thing. Feast on your own life!
love after love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

five minute friday try five minute friday new button

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Porch Stories: 15 years

On this week's virtual Porch Stories and in their actual lives, Kristin and Greg Taylor celebrate 15 years of marriage—you can read about their very mature anniversary plans for an awesome reflection of Kristin's "Seeking God as the Author of Every Story" blog description!

desert spirit's fire porch stories – 15 years: mercy roads

desert spirit's fire @ 15: Mercy Roads


Most years I write a blogoversary post; officially and formally desert spirit's fire debuted on the middle day of July – the 16th – but it feels providential that I didn't post closer to that day, because 2017 marks this blog's 15th year, making it the perfect subject for my own Porch Story today.

Fifteen years ago I'd very recently finished a year-long certificate in Community Economic Development. After too many rough, tough, disappointing years, when I excitedly began the CED program I believed it would help me re-enter a life of meaningful service to the city and to society. Two months after graduation, I still held that conviction. In the decade plus since then, Planet Earth's itinerary has included a national and global economic downturn that's affected all individuals and entities other than the ultra-rich and super-wealthy. Along with financial struggles, I'm still (yes, "still") trying to grieve other losses and situations that turned out very other than I'd minimally anticipated.

And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat... Exodus 25:22a

Martin Luther tells us the cross of Calvary is God's Mercy Seat or Gnadenstuhl— God's Throne of Grace and Mercy where God meets us where we are, how we are, rains boundless mercies and offers resurrection hope.

A Porch Story tends to be the type of testimony of God's faithfulness we'd recount sitting on a porch with a friend or enjoying lunch in a kitchen or at a café. In other words, most porch stories are about the little incidents and mini-moments that remind us of God's presence, that fuel and fill us so we can keep talking the talk, walking the walk.

You know how the Apostle Paul frequently lists the many disasters, shipwrecks, and other calamitous adversities he'd experienced? At least once, maybe twice in this blog I've mentioned in passing I've been through a few "Pauline-style" catastrophes, too! {Maybe especially as a woman and} in the interest of keeping on keeping on, I've done my best to sail through and hardly mention them at all to anyone.

Let's turn that around?! Truthfully – yes, really – over the course of these fifteen years, along city streets, suburban byways, urban freeways and a few country roads, other wayfarers have offered me grace-filled surprises of welcome, hospitality, and participation. Other pilgrims have put aside their druthers to rain solace, mercy, friendship, love, and inclusion on me. Is looking to the neighbor's needs rather than insisting on our own not the way of the cross? Has that not been God's call to God's people for all times and in all places? Last fall when we had several lectionary readings from Jeremiah and Deuteronomy, I talked with my adult Sunday School class about neighborology—the word about the neighbor—that's central to Torah. Neighborology that encountered us right where we lived when the guy asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor" with Jesus' reply, "A guy was going down to Jericho..."

Who has been a neighbor to you? How have you been a neighbor? Who has shown God's mercy to you? To whom have you offered grace? What are a few of your mini-moment porch stories that fuel you along the way, fill others as they journey, to keep talking the talk and walking the walk?

porch stories button