Saturday, October 13, 2018

Write31Days2018 • October 13 Talk

day 13 talk

"Talk is cheap; you gotta walk that talk—show me!"

Maybe because I've encountered countless individuals whose only topic of discourse is themselves, I don't talk about myself easily or fluently, yet I love to talk in a group or to a larger public and I enjoy talking about myself in a fairly abstract way rather then nattering on about this feeling or that feeling.

I love to say artisanal and Hanoverian. I'll talk about myself right now and tell you I'm finding this series plodding, dull, and not at all enjoyable because none of the topics interest me. Writing for five minutes to a weekly prompt is one thing; trying to say something substantial – or even five minutes' worth – every day for a month is another. Irony, too, that despite last October's Places and Spaces topic fulfilling a long-time dream, that also became very un-fun because my ongoing exhaustion, grief, and inability to find direction had started months earlier and still hasn't quit.

To end for today, I gotta tell you by grace I do whatever I can to walk that talk.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 12 Praise & FMF

five minute friday praise

five minute friday praise

Today I'm playing Five Minute Friday for the first time in half a year or longer... I didn't resonate with either prompt for day 12 from Crystal's lists, but praise meets my current needs. At the FMF site I picked up their list of daily October prompts and may write to a couple of those before the month ends.

Like I used to do in Koreatown after relocating to LA, early mornings I go out to the back yard to enjoy the fresh start of a new day with praise and prayer and hope. In most contemporary worship resources, morning prayer sort of combines Matins, Lauds, and Prime. Historically, Lauds always included the three Hallel / Hallelujah! Psalms 148, 149, and 150; the name of the office comes from the Latin Laudate or praise. Since serendipitously discovering it on a blog, I've been enjoying the PCUSA's daily office app that features four offices from the liturgy of the canonical hours: Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer or Vespers, Night Prayer or Compline. True to tradition, we always have a Hallel Psalm with morning prayer; just as I did in Koreatown shortly after moving to Current City, early mornings I go out to the back yard to enjoy the fresh start of a new day with an attitude of praise and hope—and a Hallelujah psalm.

"Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

Postscript: theology geek that I am, I have the Company of Pastors (echo of John Calvin!) module addition to the daily office app; it cycles through Book of Confessions, though you can customize that study content and also customize your liturgy to accord with your life currents. The basic prayer app covers the entire NT every year, most of the OT every two years, the psalter every two months.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 11 Autumn Tradition

write 31 days autumn traditions

Did I ever mention September and October historically have been the hottest months in Southern California? Yes, I have and they have, too. Just as recent mornings have offered a welcome sweater weather chill, sundown's been earlier and I can't chase away the conviction winter's on the way.

The season of falling leaves from deciduous trees means traditions. The entire writing prompt includes "favorite," but why would you keep on with a custom if it weren't fave? Social and cultural obligations? You may not enjoy the tradition itself, but you love the results.

With the start of school and new clothes, new notebooks, new acquaintances that often become new friends, September is my always new year—that's Autumn Tradition No. 1. Fall Trad No. 2 would be the new jobs I've begun in the fall; surprisingly, none of those start times related to recently finishing an academic course of study during June or August. Another tradition's the backdrop for all of our human ones when planet earth grows weary, slows down, cycles into sleep, sometimes into actual death that's pre-req for resurrection.

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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

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.

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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 07 A Teacher...

write 31 days 2018 A Teacher

...who had a lasting impact on me.

Boys on one side of the classroom, girls on the other side. Rose in front of me, SaraLee to the left. No one on my right—this was the first row. Behind me? I don't remember.

All states of the USA require a year of US History for HS graduation and I dreaded it. Couldn't imagine what it would take to endure it. People who know me now might be surprised to find out I didn't like school as a kid or a teenager, but I didn't detest it, either. I had classmates who loved school, some who hated it. Aside from a few teachers, students, and assignments, what was to hate or to love about school? You literally just did it.

Early September of senior year I took my seat in Mrs. Hartley's honors American History class because the standard classes they usually assigned me to were full. From September through June I learned how to gather, assess, compile, and make decisions about evidence. I learned to write about the process. History became interesting, surprising, an exciting enterprise far distant from memorizing and quickly forgetting a few facts as we'd done in earlier grades.

A way long overdue shoutout and thank you to Mrs. Hartley!

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Saturday, October 06, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 06 Saturday

write 31 days 2018 Saturday

Saturday. Do you know about sorrow? Do you know about loss?

Cornel West reminds us, "We are people of hope! Why do we party on Friday night? Why do we go to church on Sunday?" Saturdays come between all those Fridays and all those Sundays, but there was a particular Saturday inbetween the Friday we call good and the Sunday we know as the day of resurrection. Someone described that Saturday as the day nothing happened and the day everything happened.

The struggle with the expectations that glimmer true for a moment and then fade into another past have exhausted me. I need an agent of resurrection. Will you wait through Saturday with me?

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Friday, October 05, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 05 Gold

write 31 days 2018 something gold

In most situations, whoever has the gold (the most valued medium of exchange) holds the key to the most desirable goods and services. Sometimes it's actual metallic gold. Other times, gold refers to whatever a culture, organization, profession or a family values most. With numbers 2 through 6, we can describe gold in terms of how many nines fine; we can talk karats. What gold can I offer? What goods and services do I desire? What ones do I truly need? Is there a way I can borrow more gold to get what I need to start life over?

Despite another lukewarm forecast of rain, it's been another mildly overcast autumn day. Aside from my needs as an individual, southern California seriously needs rain, but no gold I know of can summon that goodness from the sky.

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 04 A New Place

write 31 days 2018 A New Place

Geographical landed place remains part of almost everyone's homecoming dream. Being exiled from place is one of the worst nightmares. Next Monday, October 8th I'll write about returning home, homecoming, or ideas related to one of those. A person may mention they're moving into a new place, typically a house or an apartment. Referring to a life situation, we speak of being in a good or bad psychological "place." Which will I blog about this time? About the most urgent one, about my need to get into a new, psychologically and overall healthier place.

The new place I need and anticipate probably will consist of a group of physical locations? Yes, but more than anything, it will be a new place of being, contributing, and participating.

That's all for today; more on this topic later.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 03 Sweet Spots

write 31 days 2018 sweet spots

porch stories 03 October Sweet Spots

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!

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Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 02 Friendship

write 31 days 2018 friendship

Friend-ship... a ship, a vessel full of friends! A boatload of people who travel together. Friend can connote acquaintance, playmate, soulmate, romantic partner. In this social media era, friend has become a verb. On Facebook and other sites, one can friend, unfriend, or de-friend someone, but don't confuse de-friending with defending because they are opposites. Like bread, land, earth, and book, friend is one of the marvelous single-syllable words the English language received from German. Well, German, Dutch, Danish, English, all belong to the same linguistic family, but English also got a lot of vocabulary from other sources.

What else can I say about friends and friendships? Social media has made reconnecting with friends from the past relatively easy. Social media has made heartless, unfriendly, vicious behaviors relatively easy. As someone who'd spent her life surrounded by friends of every intensity ranging from ultra-casual to BFF (a common TLA (Three Letter Acronym) meaning Best Friends Forever), I never expected anything different.

And more? Friendship's always about at least one of the four types of love C.S. Lewis described. About a year ago our choir sang a lovely setting by Alfred Fedak of 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul's love passage. Verses 4 though the start of verse 8:
In love is patience always found,
for love kind hearts make common ground,
from love, conceit and pride take flight
and jealousy is banished.
Love keeps no score of what's gone wrong
nor sings a pessimistic song
nor lets regret or guilt prolong,
for love expects tomorrow.

paraphrase by John Bell. ©1988 Iona Community, Scotland

Even more? As someone who'd spent her life surrounded by friends, I never expected anything different. Love expects tomorrow. Friends and friendship expect tomorrow.

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Monday, October 01, 2018

Write 31 Days 2018 • October 01 Autumn

write 31 days 2018 autumn / fall

What better topic than autumn to launch this year's 31 day writing challenge? During the months of falling leaves, the quality of light all day long makes my heart yearn for an unknown just as it aches with late afternoon shadows and shifting light any time of the year. I always love how fall signals a back to school new year, so September into early October is my real new year. Right now I'm technically not in any school program as learner or teacher, but as usual, I bought some school supplies including a couple of cute composition notebooks, a matching 1" binder, and got a 6-pack of folders from amazon vine.

I am so surely weary of people saying they like changes of season and informing me therefore they would not want to live in a place like Southern California. Evidently they assume our Mediterranean climate is unchangeable, and unlendable to different styles of attire. Because I've lived both places I honestly can compare my current place of residence to New England and the intermountain West with their marked seasonal temperature changes; I can tell those changes of seasons people we have almost as many chances to snuggle in warm sweaters and sleep under quilts as denizens of Massachusetts or Utah; southern Californians have the added advantage of always being able to get warm and stay warm.

Almost anywhere you live, each season has a distinct personality. It's never been a secret that summer's my favorite and best, July the month I never want to end. Winter means classier cozier clothes, more formal social and cultural events. Spring always carries the astonishment of new life out of darkness and apparent death. Summer? Feels like bring on the festive, romp in what's casual, saunter down to the beach, break out singing the blues, because the world is young, the planet's restless, it's carefree and no one's really blue at all.

Even as work and school start humming along on a regular track again, in other ways fall slows down. The season itself journeys at a slower pace than spring or summer; most people parallel that pace. Poets and novelists have observed how the year has matured by autumn. Fall has seen it all: the astonishment of new life during spring—surprise because we never know the rest of the story; summer's fruits, fantasies, and flings. Fall has learned death is not the end. Winter is one more way to wait for resurrection.

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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