Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 Happenings

may 2016 experiences

Inspired by praying on the prairie, for a while I started compiling a week of grace summary but eventually unpublished all of them. Lately I've been making Emily P. Freeman's end of every month linkup into highlights, with an occasional mention of what an event or two might have taught me. It's also an excellent opp for pics that might not fit elsewhere.

• The near-astonishment of people thinking of me! "I brought you a boba!" "I brought you a bagel!"

music from the left coast CD

• Spontaneous invitation to a concert I hadn't known about. Excellent choir and orchestra, a couple of world premieres, it was in a beautifully designed contemporary style church, and I won a CD for answering a question during intermission!

Day of Pentecost streamers Day of Pentecost streamers

• Day of Pentecost splendor! At least a dozen people read John 14:27 in a language other than English; I read the passage in koine Greek. Interim pastor told me she wouldn't have done that well, but amidst memories of usually strangely accented Greek in the seminary classroom, I thanked her and assured her I'd practiced lots.

Day of Pentecost brunch lunch Day of Pentecost deserts

• Brunch and dessert tables from Pentecost Sunday

East LA Whittier sign

• Learned, or more accurately remembered: I relocated to Current City because I wasn't getting opps in Previous City, so despite a couple of living places I checked out far away choosing me as their renter/housemate, I had enough wisdom to decline and wait for something closer by my usual activities to open up.

by the beach plants on the beach

Coffee Bean Reed Park

• Homey and familiar natural settings and local outlets of my fave eating and drinking spots everywhere I go

bumble bee beach boy

• I discovered this nearby Beach Boy Painting on the Wall and later on the people who designed him. Love!

3rd street prom banners 3rd street prom banners

3rd street prom banners 3rd street prom banners

• More public art along Third Street Promenade

• I got picked to be one of the few, the chosen, the privileged, to answer a questionnaire as the pastoral search-call committee prepares the Congregational Profile or CIF or whatever they call it in that denom. Yay, me!

• Another surprise concert on the fourth Sunday afternoon of May with heavenly rococo sounds of Mozart and another famous choral work

emily may 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

new backstory page

back story

Maybe you've noticed I've added several static pages to this blog? Yesterday I created and published a New Back Story Page. Blogger doesn't allow labels on pages, so I labeled this post life stuff and tellingthestory.

telling the story button life stuff button

five minute friday: cheer

Five Minute Friday host Kate Motaung chose cheer for today.

cheer courage

FMF: cheer

I wrote by hand again

Would you believe I don't remember ever saying or writing "cheer"?! People announce CHEERS! as a toast. I know there used to be a TV show called cheers and I know I never watched it.

When John and the synoptic gospel writers have Jesus counseling us to be of good cheer as many English translations express it, that's telling us to have courage, literally to take heart. Heart-related words like cardiac and concord and concordia come from the same root as courage and courageous. In Hebrew biology the heart mostly is the seat of the will and determination, rather than the location of emotions as modern westerners have it.

I don't use the word cheer, but personally and as a designer I love the idea of cheerful colors, a bright cheer-filled space. I love the idea of cheering up a person with brights and lights of any kind.

PS As I somewhat recycled my cheer / courage header design from a couple of Valentine's days ago, I remembered a book called the Red Badge of Courage, therefore—cheer and courage in red!

five minute friday expect five minute friday button

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Expect

Another Five Minute Friday Fantastic Free write; Kate Motaung hosts again with this week's expect prompt.


If you've followed my blog, you might remember I've mentioned that in Spanish hope and expect are the same word—espero and its variations. "Espero" also means wait! Sample sentence:

• I waited for her with rekindled hope because I expected her to arrive before long.

• Esperé con la esperanza reavivada porque esperaba que llegara después de poco tempo.

This time I slowly and carefully wrote by hand to three different yet related topics, thus not a very high work count.


future milkweed home future milkweed home

Picture from yesterday, Thursday, of parking lot planter boxes getting ready for new garden soil and milkweed seeds. We expect to prepare soil and plant seeds tomorrow, Saturday, or the following day, Sunday; after that we'll wait with high hopes!

1. Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem! Because they had experienced the risen Christ, they embodied resurrection hope and in the power of the HS of Pentecost could expect their testimony to bear fruit.

2. We hope monarchs will multiply and start to thrive, so we'll plant milkweed, wait for the plants to grow, and expect butterflies to visit.

3. Too often I've expected more months and years of the same old same ole—such a sad yet typical case of practical atheism! I fully hope in the risen Christ, yet need to remember God often has people wait a very long time between call and fulfillment—to help us realize it's God's action, not ours?


I usually feel a bit uneasy when anyone talks about their future daughter-in-law, future place of residence, future anything. But doesn't speaking about a person, place, or event with the prefix "future" indicate tremendous hope and expectation? And trust?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Adoption

Jeremiah 22:6

Today in her Three Word Wednesday Kristin Hill Taylor writes about Supporting Foster Families {and looking after orphans}. I've mentioned I like the discipline, the ease, and the appeal to creativity in using Kristin's prompt, though we can write to any trio of words. Kristin provided a graphic of James 1:27 that prompts us to help care for the needy, the vulnerable, the marginalized. During the era when James wrote his letter, humans who had no responsibly employed male to care for them existed in a particularly precarious situation. The reformer and theologian of grace Martin Luther famously did not like James' epistle, believed it did not belong in the canon, and included it in a group of seven NT books he considered antilegomena – spoken against – pretty much in the category of "leftovers."

Jesus tells us "To be saved? Keep the commandments. Keep covenant with all creation."

Churches since the protestant reformation have made a huge deal of our salvation by grace through faith in the atoning life and work of Jesus Christ. There tends to be a general feeling that Roman Catholics and Latter-day Saints emphasize good works more than most protestants do, yet when we glance across the map we find hospitals with names like Lutheran General and Presbyterian Central, (alongside RC and LDS) mainline protestant church-sponsored humanitarian organizations and missions and countless church-related colleges and universities that all help resurrect people from certain death into abounding life. Kristin's selected scripture from James correlates perfectly with one of my own faves from the prophet Jeremiah's speaking truth to power, in this case to King Josiah's son King Jehoahaz.
Jeremiah 22:15-16

"…Did not your father eat and drink
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He plead the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well
Is not that what it means to know me?"
Declares the LORD.
Supporting Foster Families comes under the general categories of families and adoption. The nuclear family that in many ways is a late 19th century development is not at all prominent in the bible, yet (maybe in place of the conventional nuclear family?) the New Testament brings us Jesus of Nazareth who creates families where there were none:

• For whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in the heavens, he is my brother and sister and mother. Matthew 12:50

• And he answered and said unto them, my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. Luke 8:21

For last Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, the second RCL reading was from the apostle Paul's epistle to the Romans that tells us God claims us as family, chooses all of us to receive a divine inheritance!
Romans 8:14-17

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Saul/Paul came from a Jewish background that celebrated the good news of liberation from death and slavery in the exodus from Egypt; as Christians we celebrate the gospeled good news of the freedom from slavery and death in Jesus Christ. The Spirit of resurrection God bestows in baptism is the creative Spirit of life that brooded over the unordered chaos at the dawn of creation.

To become adopted children of God means to live literally revolutionized (turned around) relationships in the new community resurrection creates. A long time ago I'd just checked into the hostel in Lübeck; only two of us were in the bunk room, so we began talking. The other traveler announced she knew her parents wanted her because she was adopted! She then told me about the tremendous confidence and freedom being chosen and brought into their family as a daughter gave her. Does our adoption into God's family in Christ Jesus give us confidence and freedom? Does our belonging to the people of God liberate us to answer God's call to care for the needy, vulnerable, and the afflicted? Will we plead the cause of planet earth that has become exceedingly needy, afflicted, and fragile, mostly as a result of human neglect, violence, and complacency? Let's do it!

James 1:27
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Grow

Five Minute Friday―you know the drill: simply write without edits for approx five minutes. Kate Motaung hosts with this week's grow prompt.

watertown house


Given that I frequently tell people desert spirit's fire! is my "more formal" theology blog, defaulting into a discussion of the upcoming liturgically mostly green Ordinary Time Season of the Church would be my typical reflection on grow—we often equate the color green with the concept of growth. I've taken many dozens of photos featuring greenery―probably captured several hundred, including a verdant group near the beach this past Tuesday. But today for grow I'm considering the tracks I've made, trails I've trekked over the past two decades, the highly unexpected turns and trajectories. Maybe you've heard if a person isn't growing and changing they're dying? Maybe they've already died? I also claimed this topic as a reason to use a trio of illustrations of the house I lived in my last year in seminary; in fact, the header picture is very very spring green with promises of a whole lot of future growth.

FMF: grow

watertown houseLife happens. You've probably heard that life is what happens while you're making plans? But two decades later, I still cannot fathom how someone as friendly and sociable and outgoing and considerate as I am, as smart, hart-working, and creative as I've been still has not found a settled place and an ongoing purpose amongst those of similar bent and background. But that answer isn't quite right. This is about growth, so in the years since the house in my illustrations, how have I grown in intellectual, social, spiritual, and creative ways despite everything and maybe because of everything? Or have I grown? Oh yes, I have!

I look back to my interview weekends in Previous City. I totally wowed those people, yet that person who on paper was me (same stats, etc.) could not begin to approach the abilities I have today as theologian, artist-designer, performing musician. But maybe more importantly, that person who apparently (yep, of course my appearance has changed over those years) was me could not begin to approach my patience and understanding with people and their insecurities, their brokenness, their self-protection. Could not remotely approach my level of trust in the God of great surprises, whose final answer always is resurrection from death.

five minute friday grow watertown house five minute friday button

Friday, May 06, 2016

three word wednesday: Choosing JOY!

Time's a-wasting to officially be part of this week's Three Word Wednesday, so I'm ready to write to Kristin's Choose JOY! To help celebrate her birthday, this week Kristin chose to Choose 37 Joys. I won't count that high; instead I've chosen a more manageable four because of four elements, four directions, and because "People will come from the east, and the west, the north, and the south, and feast at the banquet in the kingdom of God." Luke 13:29


1. My header image illustrates one of my main joys—design, drawing, illustration, art... It's from a very varied 1 Peter – 2 Peter series I did, with no attempt for any consistency in style, size, media, or any design aspect.

2. I love teaching! Art, music, design, theology, so my Sunday mornings are super-joy-filled. Besides the Word and Sacrament hour that always sustains me for the week, I teach the adult SS class.

3. Summer. Always summer? Almost always. For close to a dozen years instead of not wanting summer to end I couldn't wait for autumn to begin, but recently my attitude of estival joy's returned in full.

4. All Creation! Nature, Wildlife, Gardens, Beaches, Cities—the natural, tended, built, and fabricated environments where we live and work and play. These are arenas of God's presence and grace that God calls us to care for and steward.

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