Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 2020

December 2020 Header Christmas Scene

• December header coordinates with my designs for Advent and Christmas Day.

Sunday School lessons for December 2020. Per my earlier observations, though they're less dynamic, they're better organized than the notes I used to blog after our in-person meetings.

December grasses in Hermosa Beach Heather's Christmas sled December grasses in Hermosa Beach

• Beach grasses are from a Tuesday trip to Roxy's vet for routine tests and checkup. Heather Bolinder painted the Christmas sled and I decorated it bit by bit, year after year. Heather's painting pain website is parked without content; although she hasn't added to her FB page for a long time, you still can enjoy some painting pain pieces and examples of her other art.

Christmas Day 2020 Park Scene Christmas Day 2020 Park Scene

• Christmas day walk in the park matched the one J and I did on Thanksgiving Day.

Christmas Day 2020 Trees Christmas Day 2020 Trees Christmas Day 2020 Trees

• A trio of tree trunks and branches at the park came together to create an artistic group.

December 2020 blueberries in bowl

• By venturing outside my usual Canada/Mexico/California I'm still enjoying affordable fresh blueberries in late December. These hail from Peru; they're larger, firmer, and clearly grown to haul some distance.

Living Local 2020

• Last January before anyone could have imagined 2020, I announced it would be my year of living local. Though I realize many small businesses are Amazon vendors and provide order fulfillment, I didn't order anything amazon during the year, and despite buying some on eBay, the rest of my shopping remained ultra-local.

December 2020 Cold Moon

• I've been illustrating a year of full moons; here's the Cold Moon for December. Sky background and moon itself both are stacks of photoshop filters.

• Would you believe – do you believe? – I'm ready to welcome 2021?

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Sleeping with Bread

Sleeping with Bread book cover
Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, and Dennis Linn on Powell's

Sleeping with bread—tucking yourself in at the end of the day with whatever's basic to your survival and overall health. With graceful pastel watercolor illustrations by Francisco Miranda, this giftable paperback provides simple instructions and compelling rationales for anyone of any age doing an Ignatian examen on a regular basis. Can you name your greatest consolation, your most stinging desolation from today? Oh, those Jesuits and their reputation for being so good with discernment! Because they are!

I especially appreciate the authors' counsel that making an examen can be wise and helpful not only at the end of a day, week, month, or year (I'm so ready for 31 December 2020 and 01 January 2021) but also after a meeting at work or anywhere, a conversation, a class as student or instructor, a meal. Can you name the best part? The worst part? What brought life? What caused death? Making an examen as an individual or with other(s) each day over as short a period as a calendar month may help confidently guide you into that critical "what now-what's next" in your own vocational or recreational pursuits, or as a family. You probably remember Howard Thurman, the late and great preacher to Boston University telling us: Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you alive, because the world needs people who are fully alive.

My Good Reads review: Discovering Life

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Church: Towards a Common Vision

The Church Towards a Common Vision book cover
The Church: Towards a Common Vision on Amazon

We frequently refer to God's Providence—an aspect of God's merciful loving care that involves vision and foresight. The Church: Towards a Common Vision, the ecumenical World Council of Churches Faith and Order Paper Number 214, includes in its title "vision," a word about seeing and perceiving that humans share with the Divine.

Published in 2013, Towards a Common Vision is a convergence text that pairs with Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. "BEM," from three decades earlier (1982). The book radically condenses conversations related to the nature and practice of faith, sacraments, and ministry in church bodies that confess the triune God. Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Roman Catholic participants seeking to articulate a "global and multicultural ecumenical vision" [viii] came from all over the globe.

Convergence implies moving together in some directions, yet it is not full consensus, nor is it necessarily an "agreed statement." Maybe surprisingly, the churches agreed more fully on faith and sacraments than they did on ministry. All interlocutors affirmed both scripture and tradition as authoritative, along with the need to proclaim the gospel in languages, symbols, and images related to the time and place at hand—contextualizing within the listeners' overall cultural heritage. Incorporating diversity, an aspect of catholicity, is essential to incarnational presence and embodied ministry.

Towards a Common Vision views Church in biblical terms as both eschatological community and historical reality. The writing in this technical document is easy to understand; the wide format printed throughout in double columns makes it pleasant to hold and to read. And what's the purpose of all these ecumenical discussions? Because… God so loves the world, and calls the church to be in the world and for the world, enabling the church to embody and reflect God's loving trinitarian communion.

• My Amazon Review: Ecumenical Convergence Text that Pairs with BEM

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmas 1 2020

Nativity 2020 Wisdom 18:14-15

The First Sunday of Christas 2020 
When all things were
wrapped in deep silence, and
night in her swift course
was half spent,
your almighty Word,
O Lord, leapt down from
your throne in heaven.

Wisdom 18:14-15

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Give Work :: Leila Janah

give work by Leila Janah book cover
Give Work: Reversing Poverty One Job at a Time by Leila Janah on Powell's

• Intro: We all realize at least for the human years between 20 and 90 "age is only a number," yet I'll mention entrepreneur and paradigm-changer Leila Janah died of epithelioid sarcoma at the much too young age of 37 in January 2020. RIP and thanks for writing about the inspirational possibilities of a digitally and humanly connected world.


We can give work

• Because life first must be gift before it becomes task.

• Because the world is even flatter than Thomas Friedman told us.

For close to a millennium, goods, materials, and money have moved with little regard for national borders, but historically, humans have not been able to go very far. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 broke enough boundaries to create a single global market; six years later, netscape went public and brought internet access to regular people, eventually leading to individuals being able to virtually be and virtually work in places other than their actual physical locations.

Leila Janah's autobiographical account of her lifelong adventures in Give Work is copyright 2017, meaning it was written, edited, and ready for press some time before that year, and almost four years later, interconnections have expanded even more than when the author finished the book. 2021 is about a week away, and we're almost ready for a sequel!

Janah cites topographical barriers of forests and deserts that prevented earlier, pre-internet era connectivity between many African countries, as well as death-dealing mostly European colonialism that extracted natural resources, used them elsewhere, and left the population bereft. Maybe paradoxically, countries with land not so richly endowed sometimes were able to develop human potential much more readily. In terms of reversing poverty, although at times limited direct infusions of cash, services, or supplies from government or non-profits can be helpful and sometimes will be necessary, the giving work concept means people do easy to learn computerized work that companies worldwide need, and it happens in a fair and verifiable work-for-pay exchange. Those wages then stay in the community and lead to more income for others as the money circulates.

It's never easy to find an appropriate name for a product or entity that will span cultures and geographies. In Sanskrit sama is equal or fair. In Arabic sama means sky; it's the root of the Hindi word for same. Leila Janah hoped her company would give everyone an equal opportunity by sourcing in ways that enhanced the value of "sama," thus becoming Samasource. Janah imagined, developed, and planted Samasource on an astonishingly tiny budget—even for a startup. Samasource has grown into an excellent option for companies of any size anywhere to access digital workers who produce quality and get paid fairly.

Although Samasource first sought to employ persons stuck in poverty because of almost zero work options in countries like India and Kenya, Leila chronicles later experiences and challenges she had training people in rural California and rural Arkansas. Maybe surprisingly, big cities in developing countries had literally countless, increasingly affordable internet cafés; underpopulated, depressed American towns lacked all kinds of viable infrastructure. (A few years later, I need to research if or how that has changed by now.)

What was Give Work's best counsel? Keep following your dreams and if your initial product rollout doesn't have glitches and inconsistencies, you have waited too long to launch!


An interconnected world is a flat earth, a planet that keeps shrinking, finally down to the size and weight of a smart phone. Leila was able to develop and leave legacies of companies Samasource and LXMI* because of the imagination, energy, and resilience she'd been born with, because of the education she was able to get as a result of where she'd been born, and equally as much, because of her connections with other people. It's not what you know, it's not who you know: it's all about who knows you.

Needless to say, despite beginning the Samasource enterprise somewhat on her own with her own pocket change, all along the way Leila Janah found emotional and intellectual support in friends, acquaintances, classmates, and coworkers. They got who she was, trusted what she felt called to do. Oprah reminded the teenager, "You know you can't do life on your own." I've spent too long developing more skills and further expertise—even including more academic credentials. Objectively, it doesn't matter how splendidly someone does something if there's no place to do it.

It can sound vulgar, but "human capital" is essential for success. Success? Contributing in a manner and to a degree related to the person's gifts and preparation and sense of call. And though virtually no creative anywhere ever imagined they'd get an immense financially windfall, one truly expects working hard and spending time eventually will result in a livable income.

Reminding myself: amidst the overall isolation and urgent "what's next" of the current global pandemic, what was Give Work's best counsel for everyone? Keep following your dreams and if your initial product rollout doesn't have glitches and inconsistencies, you have waited too long to launch! I am so reaching out a few more times and expecting opportunities good to go as soon as the surrounding world starts to open up again… really!

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from publicist, author, publisher, or distributor, with no requirement or expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, opinions are my own.

my goodreads review: Life as a Gift in a Flat World
*Though it's not the main topic, Give Work interestingly details development and marketing the ethically sourced for-profit complexion care line LXMI.

Five Minute Friday :: Conclude

five minute friday conclude

Five Minute Friday :: Conclude Linkup

The last FMF of calendar year 2020. I can hear everyone's "I am soooo ready to conclude the year 2020!" More weeks than not I intend to write and do the linkup; more weeks than not, time eludes me. However, this one I need to do.

Taking Five:

As often as we imagine God redeems circumstance and situations in spite of, because of is better theology.

Ready to conclude this calendar year? Martin Luther especially loved the "grace has appeared" nativity scripture in Titus 2:11. He loved Christmas, and he survived a pandemic! Maybe you've seen some of Pastor Martin's pandemic advice that's been circulating? Someone observed Dr (of theology) Luther sounds so much like Dr Fauci!

Someone online said her worst ever move was buying a daily planner for 2020. Too funny! For a while I couldn't quit thinking of activities I did, places I went, after we'd heard about COVID-19 in Wuhan, yet before any cases had been recorded elsewhere. And then… last spring or so, NBC Nightly News demonstrated how to avoid hugs and handshakes when you met up with people. I think they'd started recommending masks by then? If that feels innocent or naïve, that's because It was.
Grace Has Appeared - Titus 2 11

Ready to conclude this calendar year? Every Advent the church begins a new year of grace, about a month before the civic new year. During Advent we prepare with Mary and Joseph for Jesus' birth. We join two thousand years of trusting that earth will experience the fullness of heaven's reign.

Today is Christmas Eve. Most of us won't be reading or hearing it inside a church building this year, but we know the Christmas story well. We've read and recited and sung it. No one needs another list of everything that's gone down wrong during 2020. God doesn't redeem in spite of; God saves, redeems, restores – and creates new life out of death – because of. Remember MLK famously saying, "The arc of history bends towards justice?" Yes, it does! We know much more about managing pandemics now than anyone knew in Luther's world, and that knowledge contributes to God's shalom-filled justice we all seek, all of us need.

Grace has appeared, grace will keep on keepin' on appearing. Sing Noël!

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five minute friday new button

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Advent 4 2020

Advent 4 Isaiah 61:1-2

The Fourth Sunday of Advent 2020 
The Mighty One
has scattered the proud
in the imaginations of their hearts
and filled the hungry
with good things!

Luke 1:51-53

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Advent 3 2020

Advent 3 Isaiah 61:1-2

The Third Sunday of Advent 2020 
To bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the year of the Lord's favour!

Isaiah 61:1-2

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Advent 2 2020

Advent 2 Isaiah 40:4-5

The Second Sunday of Advent 2020

Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low,
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together!

Isaiah 40:4-5

Monday, November 30, 2020

November & Autumn 2020

November - Autumn 2020 blog header

September 2020 Summary: Pandemic Blues

October 2020 Highlights: COVID Continues

Six Sunday School lessons for November, because I included a retrospective of Matthew's gospel for review and a prospective of Mark's for looking forward. I miss the interesting fluidity of meeting in-person, yet I like how these more formal lessons have developed.

November citrus on Santa Monica Blvd / Route 66 November citrus on Santa Monica BLvd/ Route 66 November succulents along Santa Monica Blvd / Route 66 November succulents along Santa Monica Blvd / Route 66

• All Saints Day and Sunday I went to real-life church again and captured citrus plus succulents along Santa Monica Blvd / Route 66.

November 03 election day I voted sticker

• I've always loved the drama of in-person voting. Way before pandemic I voted absentee only twice, both times because I'd be out of state on election day.

Biden/Harris California yard sign

• California for Biden / Harris yard sign in front of a house on the way back from polling place.

world Sandwich day 03 Nov

• Election/Voting Day was World Sandwich Day that's on 03 November every year. I popped into the Subway closest to the voting place, but this picture is from another year's blog. As with the ice cream sundae further down this post, in general pictures of the real thing don't look sufficiently appetizing—though one of the sandwich artists at the SFV Subway always created subs worthy of high end ads.

red and white flowers at the strip mall white and red flowers at the strip mall

• Fresh and pretty red and white flowers decorating the strip mall.

Hot Fudge Sundae

• Another outing with a non-household member! We went to BR31 again and had Hot Fudge Sundaes again. As often happens, pics of the real thing didn't look very tasty; this photoshopped public domain picture looks close.

Franklin Park Trees Franklin Park Trees
Franklin Park Trees

• Thanksgiving Day morning Walk in the Park with a non-household member. Starting this week, county authorities have banned even this type of masked and distanced activity. They specifically told us no "Walks in the Park."

Psalm 65 Thanksgiving Day design

• Psalm 65:8 for Thanksgiving Day USA and Territories: "Your wonders awe those who live at earth's farthest bounds; you make the gateway of the morning and the evening shout for joy!" I enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving Dinner with another non-household member. No worries; we sat far apart.

Advent 1 design

• 29 November was the First Sunday of Advent that opened wide the church's new year of grace. This is from my 5-part design series, The Road Home.

Bowl of Blueberries

• Hey Blueberries! Still! Circumstances have sent me outside my usual resolve to get produce only from Mexico and Canada; blubes currently in the stores hail from Peru.

November 2020ful beaver moon

• 30 November and a Full Beaver Moon. Beaver picture from PIxabay; I'm in process of creating all 12 plus full moons.

November 2020 Safer At Home

• Los Angeles County is back in the most severely restrictive purple tier, though slightly more relaxed than the previous purple. In short, it's best to stay Safer At Home, though we can shop for grocs and other essentials. No more real life church, though according to plan this lockdown ends around 21 December, so in-person church for Christmas may happen.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Advent 1 2020

Advent 1B 2020 Isaiah 64:1

The First Sunday of Advent 2020

"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would quake at your presence!"
Isaiah 64:1

Saturday, October 31, 2020

October 2020 :: Covid Continues

October brick wall square header with flower

• I'll start with this month's Urban Wilderness-City Paradise Sunday School lessons. October had 5 Sundays, so 5 lessons this time—including specials for Jubilee Weekend, Reformation, and All Saints.

Harvest Moon
• The first full moon for October was a Harvest Moon.

Critter Blessing
• Church hosted a virtual Blessing of the Animals on the First Sunday of October. Roxy always gets into weird poses when she sees camera or phone and knows I want a cute picture, so we used this old one.

Watermelon Simply Living
• It's true I wanted a reason to blog this picture here; it's also truth that regular stores and farmer's market still have sweet juicy watermelons. "Simply Living" picks up my theme of Living Local for 2020.

• For the most part I blog berries every month during berry season. Blueberries and Blackberries both have been plentiful, yummy, and not too expensive. This picture's a companion to September's Strawberries in a box.

West Los Angeles Urban Scene October foliage with power lines
• Eight months into covid tide, and getting to West LA a few times has felt good. Characteristic October foliage and power lines created an urban scene on October 18th.

Art Classes on Alignable
• A friend in Previous City connected me with the newish professional networking site Alignable that's much smaller scale than LinkedIn. They noticed I was an artist, and even emailed to ask if I offered Art Classes! They then created very appropriate text for my ad, and I popped this painting into the ad. Despite the pandemic I'd already been seeking to lead a few art classes or workshops… serendipitous.

• The LA Dodgers won the World Series!!! This is Dodgers Nation!!! Because I couldn't find a good picture with reuse rights, instead I'm writing in their current Dodger Blue.

Reformation 2020 Psalm 46 snipper
• Paraphrase of Psalm 46:1-2 for Reformation 2020 reads, "God is our shelter and our strength—always there for us in troubling times. Therefore we will not fear." Martin Luther more or less based his famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" on Psalm 46.

Hunter Moon October 2020
• And a second full moon in the same month, making the Hunter Moon on Halloween also a Blue Moon. My FB page still is online but currently not active, so I didn't design anything for Halloween this year.

October brick wall square footer with flower and green sprig