Monday, September 30, 2019

Porch Story :: September 2019

porch stories icon 2019

September 2019 desert spirit's fire

• End of most months I link my story to Porch Stories host Kristin's. I know you'll enjoy reading about her September 2019.

• Where am I? How am I?

• In City of Angels.

• Wondering. Waiting. Worrying. Wishing. Excited to move into cooler weather, wearing sweaters, and interesting activities.

season of creation 2019 wisdom series ocean sunday 01 season of creation 2019 wisdom series fauna and flora sunday 02
season of creation 2019 wisdom series storm sunday 03 season of creation 2019 wisdom series cosmos sunday 04

• As I've done for about a dozen years, I created a design for each Sunday in the Season of Creation. The liturgical emphasis originated in Australia and has spread worldwide, traditionally for the month of September; Blessing of the Animals/Blessings upon all Creation on the October Saturday or Sunday closest to St Francis of Assisi day on 04 October concludes the hope-filled celebration. Watch this space for my October summary Porch Story that will include our local Critter Blessing! By the way, each of the three Revised Common Lectionary years features a different theme—for Luke's lectionary year C, it's wisdom.

WTC 911 18 years 2019

• The still free world again remembered the 18-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack on NYC's World Trade Center. Let's never forget. My 18-years memorial design (simply updated from 2012 and from 2014) quotes Lamentations 3:

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

• Background image by Michael Connor of Morguefile comes from before they'd finished the memorial; I still love the reflective graphic style I added.

God's Work Our Hands logo

• I didn't get any bloggable pictures for the September 17th God's Work, Our Hands Day when we assembled snack and hygiene kits in the church backyard to help lighten the burden of nearby transient (homeless, unhoused, unsheltered) street people that are among the approximately 50,000 who sleep rough nightly in this town. The LA NBC affiliate has been airing an exceptional semi-documentary, fully-human interest series called Streets of Shame.

• The choir sang contemporary composer David Haas' Christ Among Us, with text inspired by Teresa of Avila. I frequently remind everyone we're God's hands, feet, eyes, ears, voice, and the anthem took it further with thoughts, words, song, heart, touch, care, love, light, hope, strength, joy!

Michaelmas 2019

• The 29 September Feast of St Michael and All Angels / Michaelmas fell on a Sunday this year. The choir sang one of my all-time favorites, Handel's Hallelujah, Amen!

beauty truth love book cover

• Society of Friends friend Brent Bill is assembling a formal, official, launch team for his upcoming Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love; it already has an Amazon page!

• While you wait for the early November release, you can visit Brent's Amazon page so you can start to discover his other books. I even have a "Brent Bill" tag for this blog so why not check out my blog posts?

Kristin Taylor porch stories button

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Brian J Dixon :: Start with Your People

Start with Your People by Brian Dixon book cover
Start with Your People: The Daily Decision that Changes Everything by Brian J Dixon on Amazon

Like the composer author Brian Dixon described as a guy who'd done everything you're supposed to do to get noticed so you'd get opportunities you prepared for and couldn't be truly alive without, I've worked all the traditional options correctly and compulsively, with close to no return. I've even done it knowing my own light shines brightest when I help other people discover and develop their gifts, therefore trusting God would respond to my awareness and to the world's needs.

But first, about Start with Your People book. Did you know your people include "everyone you interact with, not just your family, friends, and coworkers"? That's every single person. Good beginning. However, you still need your own tribe, which often means "asking for help. No one succeeds on their own. Everyone has a team. ... When you're inside the bottle, it's impossible to read the label. That's why we need other people. ... Allow these people to speak into your life and be honest with you." (page 129, launch team pdf book version)

Again, that validated what I've known almost forever, but that's where the book title and concept becomes powerful. You start with the people by serving them, by placing them first, as Jesus would.

When my social and professional networks both crashed, I knew I needed to rebuild, but that's the subject of several earlier blogs and not a topic for today. Brian includes a dozen examples of people who've reclaimed their dreams after failure or brought their dreams to life for the first time ever. If they could do it, so can you. Me, too!

Although Brian clearly is a highly committed Christian – follower of The Way of Jesus, as the early church would say – and Start with Your People is firmly grounded in service, you would not need to be Christian, religious, or even acknowledge some kind of spirit of life in order to benefit and change from reading the book, from asking, "What are you working through?" and – if that's your jam – doing the exercises at the end of the book.

Brian J Dixon's Start with Your People offers a practical, life-giving way to make your own particular gifts, passions, and skills matter to the world as you engage in community building that validates everyone's worth. Like very very many people these days, I found myself suddenly in the gig economy (sometimes ironically called the precariat), trying to find a way in a world where internet expansion and a major financial recession had moved a ton of work to third world countries where the cost of living is minuscule compared to North America and Western Europe. Still, Brian's ideas give me hope for a future when again I'll wake up excited about my work for that day. BTW, distinct and discrete projects never have stopped exciting me; I'm waiting for that next level that will happen because Brian Dixon's experience and insight has lit a new fire for me!

Notice of Material Connection: As a member of the launch team, I received a free pre-publication copy with no requirement or expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, the opinions expressed are mine alone.

my Amazon review: Validating, Igniting, Practical!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Porch Story :: Summer 2019

porch stories icon 2019

spring 2019 summary header image

• Porch Stories host Kristin writes about an August that sounds almost enviable.

• With August concluding meteorological summer, Emily P Freeman hosts her quarterly linkup.


• Day Camp in the San Fernando Valley easily was the high point of June, possibly of the summer so far. Check out pictures here!


• Reading and reviewing I See You by Terence Lester qualifies as a highlight of this year.

• For the first month in a long time, I didn't blog about July—no interesting outing or activities or pictures, but I did accomplish the amazement of retrieving my belongings, all of those everythings, out of South Central where they'd spent four years in storage. Despite downsizing and donating a lot of mostly furniture along with some other effects before leaving Previous City, like many or most, I couldn't Marie Kondo as thoroughly as might have been ideal. Almost everyone knows about items that don't necessarily occupy a whole lot of space, items you have three or four or more of that are similar but deciding which one to hang onto is too major at the moment, etc.


• No August pictures at this time, though I may add a few later. Continuing the sorting and donating theme because most of it has happened this month, everyone knows about donation regrets that frequently happen because sorting and unloading generates such an emotional high... Chances are I'll schedule a few more pickups (with Vietnam Vets of America) and waiting until I better could assess what to keep and what not has been freeing and satisfying. Due to different box sizes ranging from standard small through medium to quite a few large, blogging a number doesn't say much, but twenty five (25) is the current count.

Watch This Space!

1. For a review of another launch team book, Start With Your People, about gathering your tribe and being a supporter;

2. For a serious blog about Previous City friend Markus Watson's fabulous Spirit Life and Leadership podcast. It's not only for pastors, teachers, deacons, elders, and seminary types (professors and students). It's for everyone because if we are alive, we are spiritual so we have a spiritual life!

Emily P Freeman Spring 2019

Kristin Taylor Porch Stories button

Friday, July 19, 2019

Terence Lester :: I See You

I see you by Terence Lester book cover
Equal parts testimony, analysis, and exhortation, at first glance Terence Lester's soon to be released I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People is about the growing population of homeless individuals along with assorted "others than us" we don't perceive as part of mainstream society. However, as the late, highly admired and regarded Henri Nouwen observed, everyone is impoverished in some way, and surprisingly, "that’s the place where God wants to dwell! 'How blessed are the poor,' Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty. ... Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden." from Bread for the Journey

So I See You is about all of us.

Terence tells us poverty of any kind is about lack of access, but that's only a starter. And yes, much of this book does focus on the economic and material impoverishment that often leads to individuals and families finding themselves without physical shelter, the poverty that happens because of lack of human connections, lack of a community of support and participation. Have you noticed how homelessness and poverty tend to be systemic and multi-generational? Lester dreams of eradicating (especially) systemic injustice. I see You chronicles the author's own experiences and his observations of others who've been poor; it particularly testifies to Terence's – and other's – experiences of being seen clearly enough to have their needs acted upon and met by people acting as God's agents—as God's eyes.

13Hagar answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, "You're the God who sees me! "Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!"

14That's how that desert spring got named "God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring." That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16, The Message

The author reminds us scripture has over two thousand references to poverty and justice; we need to recognize aspects of justice include distributive, retributive, restorative, and procedural. Possibly others, as well, though they may be sub-sets of these primary types. Quite a while ago senior pastor asked what classes I was taking and I mentioned one called "Poverty and Justice." Senior pastor responded with a longish speech about the criminal (retributive) justice system and the highly disproportionate number of persons of color and others without economic means who remain incarcerated. I replied, "No! You're thinking of retributive justice! This course is about distributive justice! Who gets what, how, when, and why!" Most poverty seems to happen because of disconnects in distributive justice that often cascade into other injustices.

Hagar's God who sees me is a God who sees each of us as we really are. That includes individuals with massive financial resources it's easy to stereotype as having everything; it includes people in ragged clothes holding a Please Help! sign at the freeway entrance. What stereotypes do you need to start breaking down? What ones do I still hold onto?

Scripture tells us, Jesus shows us how God created humanity in the image of the divine. In the power of the Holy Spirit of life, God calls and enables us to claim that divine nature and live as God's presence on earth, to act as God's voices, hands, feet, and eyes everywhere we go.

Almost everyone underestimates what a "regular" person can accomplish. Terence advises each of us, "Do something, anything for the [solitary] one." I like to remind my adult Sunday School class everything we do is synergistic and adds up to far more than the sum of our small, individual actions and prayers. "Prayers"? Yes. Read the gospels! Jesus always prayed before taking any significant action, before making any response to human need.

"Where will you start after reading this book?"

With God's blessings to us concealed in our own poverties, with God's blessings and presence in those we see and encounter hidden in their own unmet needs, in the power and the grace of the Holy Spirit, each of us can be the spring named God-Alive-Sees-Me as previously invisible people become visible to us.

Some link love:

Terence Lester online

Terence on Facebook

Terence Lester's Instagram

Terence Lester on twitter

Love Beyond Walls, an organization Terence and his spouse Cecilia started to draw attention to homelessness and poverty and to help mobilize people in situations of poverty into a full future.

Notice of Material Connection: As a member of the launch team, I received a complimentary pre-publication copy of this book with no requirement or expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, my opinions are my very own, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

my amazon review: vision and hope

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Porch Story :: June 2019

porch stories icon 2019

June 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Summer's been in session with the fun and randomness that come with the season, so I'm linking my June summary to Porch Stories host Kristin's July.

• My end of the month summary blog for June 2019 covers less than a week, but those five days were good ones. Sometimes I sit on my actual porch, at other times it's a virtual veranda in a different time and clime, yet everywhere I'm still doing whatever I can to imagine my next move. Months became years became decades, and now?

• And now? I spent the last week of June helping with summer day camp in the San Fernando Valley. Besides mostly doing line chef-type dicing, slicing, chopping, and mincing in the kitchen, I enjoyed good conversations and glorious gardens. Snacks were yummy—one day we even had ice cream cones with our choice among five or six flavors of award-winning Thrifty Ice Cream! Dinner menus were varied and well-prepared. As usual, I've tried to be selective about the pictures I blog, so I chose color-filled ones to represent the venue well.


• With Day Camp sessions from 3 to 9, on Tuesday I got there just as all volunteer, LA-based The Rescue Train wrapped up a day of feline Trap-Neuter-Release, partly sponsored by the church that sponsored the onsite day camp. I have the impression Feral Fix LA also welcomed household pets who needed neutering.

TNR sign
TNR truck
TNR cat carriers
Blue Wheelbarrow rhubarb and flowers
7 blue chairs
central lutheran van nuys and flowers

Kristin Taylor porch stories button

Saturday, June 08, 2019

World Oceans Day 2019

world oceans day 2019

World Water Day mostly emphasizes fresh waterways; World Oceans Day concentrates on waters that contain easily measurable saline. Since it's a day of celebration and collaboration leading to a better future for oceans and for all creation, this year's WOD hashtag is a perfect #TogetherWeCan!

For 2011 I wrote about some of the numerous ocean bays that have been in my life. I currently reside in the South Bay of the placid Pacific Ocean, so I could add to my bay chronicle. But won't.

Creating a word panorama as I did for 2016 seemed a repeatable choice. Given WOD's focus on salty water, why not begin with the poignant fact whether it's ocean, tears, or sweat, salt water heals? I'm one of those many many individuals who don't necessarily go to the beach, stroll along the sand, even drive up or down the shore very often, but who really really want to know the ocean is there.

A light breeze –  fog rolling in from the ocean or out to the sea – shells for memories – shells for décor – seagrass in driftwood—pluses of a nearby ocean. With oceans and rivers gifting us as planet earth's lungs and with half the oxygen our human lungs breathe, we wouldn't be "here" if oceans weren't there.

This year's panorama includes memories of jogs alongside Pacific Beach North, along La Jolla Shores what feels like eons ago. Of early evening potluck picnics at La Jolla Cove while getting acquainted with new friends. If not for oceans, music lovers wouldn't have Bruce Hornsby's Eastern Shore of the Atlantic musical fusion sound (no, not a double meaning this time). That observation reveals my latest YT listens, but to continue, there wouldn't be any Atlantic, Caribbean (recently I've also been loving a lot of Steve Winwood and his predecessor bands), Pacific, or any music at all. Anywhere.

So for the sake of the music, the breezes, the picnics, jogs, the strolls and the shoreside drives, the lives of creatures who make seashells and seagrass their homes—for the sake of memories because no more oceans? No new memories. Let's all love the oceans by doing everything possible to redeem them, because #TogetherWeCan.

Amen? I hope so!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Porch Stories :: May & Spring 2019

porch stories icon 2019

spring 2019 summary header image

March 2019 in current city

Observing April—double meaning

May 2019

• Porch Story Time! I'm linking to Porch Story originator and host Kristin's Highlights for the month of May

• As always when each meteorological season concludes to make room for the next, I'm participating in Emily P Freeman's Learned This Season linkup

porch stories May 2019

• A new crop of peaches and nectarines, another seasonal splash of bright lemons and oranges, fresh crunchy apples (abundant veggies, too) at the Friday Farmer's Market, and there's an easy model to follow for the upcoming months of summer. Trust me, I have some plans and even more expectations for summer!

farmer's market spring apples
farmers market fresh lemons

• Pick Pico Neighborhood Street Fair

• For the first time ever, my church participated in the Pick Pico Neighborhood Fair. Wisely they scheduled the city block event for only a few Sunday hours, which increased interest and attendance.

pick pico fair signboards

• Signboards at the entrance

Church of The Master table at Pick Pico

• A perspective of our church table—I also designed a sign with QR code to direct people to the church Facebook page

Atticus ice cream and pies at Pick PIco Fair

• The daughter of one of our leaders who's one of our best Sunday Brunch chefs owns Atticus ice cream and pie shop

cactus display at pick pico neighborhood fair
cactus display at pick pico neighborhood fair

• I never can resist taking pictures of cacti and succulents

Pick Pico

• Tent City: fairgrounds over-view

• Game Changers, History Makers

California Dance Institute spring program

• A friend had extra tickets to the end of school year gala program by the California Dance Institute. Several schools participated with live band, lively dancing, spell-binding lighting, adding up to one of the dozen best ever performances of any kind I've ever experienced. Visit their website for more information and inspiration!

• The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Easter 6 worship bulletin cover

• Easter is Fifty Days, a week of weeks! For the thirty-sixth day, Sixth Sunday a stack of worship folders featuring my Tree of Life art on the cover

Emily P Freeman Spring 2019

Kristin Taylor Porch Stories button

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Observing April 2019

porch stories icon 2019

• April in southern California predictably brings warmer weather, longer days, hints of new life, and (very often) Holy Week and Easter Day. If you used to visit this blog on a regular basis, you may remember I used to write a lot of more or less formal, structured theology—on a regular basis. As I've been doing for the past couple of years, this end-of-month summary is a pictorial chronicle, yet isn't all creation, aren't all activities basically theological?

porch stories April 2019 summary 2019

• First Moonflower of 2019

spring 2019 first moonflower

• Green Team / Farmer's Market / Pacific Ocean

• After Green Team met again in Glendale (sorry no pictures again this time because the formerly on-campus school's relocation means no more colorful bulletin board and other décor), friend J and I visited the Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market that gathers on Fridays.

spring 2019 veggies spring 2019 veggies
spring 2019 veggies spring 2019 berries

• Pacific Ocean

• The literally pacific and placid west coastal Pacific Ocean offers an extreme contrast to the east coastal Atlantic Ocean, but either one is best of the best for a short stroll or a long saunter on the sand!

spring 2019 Pacific Ocean

• Union Station

• Though A and I met up there for a formal transaction, the opportunity to chill around Union Station is a major perq of Current City that's a port of call, a port of entry, a cultural crossroads. What's better than a train to illustrate our (yours, mine, almost everyone's) open-ended futures? Well... there's always LAX along with at least a dozen other international and general aviation airports, then we have the seaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—yes, but trains carry a mystique no other transportation mode can match.

spring 2019 Union Station spring 2019 Union Station
spring 2019 Union Station

• Earth Day in Watts

• One month before Earth Day – 22 March – World Water Day reminded us Water Is Life. This year the day after Easter Sunday marked the 49th celebration of all that's good, all that needs healing about Gaia. I ventured over to the LA neighborhood of Watts for an Earth Day event sponsored by the Sierra Club.

Earth Day Saturday 2019 in Watts Earth Day 2019 seed packs

• Lent 6

• Originally we canceled Sunday School for Palm / Passion Sunday because of anticipated extra activity on campus, but I decided to meet anyway because I knew I'd enjoy reviewing and assembling liturgical and theological observations about Palm/Passion Sunday through the Three Day Triduum that accompany my quadrivium of related graphics.

• Maundy Thursday – Good Friday

Maundy Thursday Good Friday

• Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil / Sunrise / Morning / Evening

Holy Saturday Easter 2019

• Easter Flower Actuals

California golden poppies on easter Dream Big Earth Day Sanctuary Flowers

• Earth Day Monday in Town

Earth Day flowers in town

Kristin Taylor Porch Stories button