Monday, July 30, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: a week (almost) on retreat

I had planned to write in more detail about this past week, especially the bee incident, but that's going to have to wait until later in the week.

Here are the past week's gifts from God. The first six were written as part of a challenge in the group study of Emily Freeman's "grace for the good girl":

630. clean water
631. functioning appliances
632. a spare jeans patch
633. a patch that didn't take
634. food
635. discernment time

636. birds skimming over undulating grey ocean
637. sitting on the wrong side of the  train and not being able to see the ocean
638. writing
639. orange rocks

640. heart-shaped willow

641. chirping of baby swallows. Mama seemed to disappear right into the trunk.

642. woodpecker diving and swooping up
643. hummingbird hovering right in front of me
644. 10 maybe 11 bird species counted today
645. "The Big Year movie from last night giving awareness of so many different birds!
646. sunset on Santa Barbara hills (and choosing to sit there for an hour instead of inside)
647. writing lyrics to music Dan wrote
648. inexhaustible children
649. bee sting (this isn't the bee story)
650. being distracted from focusing on Jesus
651. light in the valley changing as the sun set
652. hills shrouded by low cloud: wondering if the mountaintops see it as fog shrouding the coast?
653. discussion with Br. Tom
654. being eyeballed by a bee (this is the bee story)

yes, this is the reason I got eyeballed by a bee
655. "I am with you."
656. being nice to a Kiwi and vice versa
657. parable of the sower sharing
658. bonding with Maria
659. arrival of friend and my hubby
660. "Yes, H----, that exit is closed."
661. watching the world darken after sunset, being reminded of childhood camping trips
662. slept through 6am Angelus bells for the first time
663. writing a song with Dan
664. sequoia forest at Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens

665. incense smoking dancing in the chapel
666. baby woodpecker head
667. satellite flash
668. dedicating Compline prayer to 2 mountaineers who died in the Peruvian Andes
669. empty woodpecker nest
670. tired legs
671. smooth train ride home

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 5: more inner excavation...

The multi-media painting has hit a wee bit of a dead-end, but hopefully will become clear when I add the photos.

Meantime, here are some more self-portraits that I took (and liked). Two are more week 4-ish, and the two mirror reflections are from week 5.

Don't you just love how blue the sky was that day? This is where I go after a session with my spiritual director. I usually see pelicans but not on that day.


nervous and excited about what lies ahead...
This week is week 6 and my friend Helena has graciously agreed to tackle two prompts with me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Joy Dare Monday

This week's gifts from God, as spotted by me. Which is not necessarily all the God-given gifts, because I should give thanks daily for my privileged place in this world (food, water, shelter, etc) but those that I spotted during the past week.

607. smooth ocean

608. finding out that vintage album I looked at two months ago still hadn't sold
609. "you are beautiful" sidewalk message

610. not an outdoor dog

611. transported by the gifts in "inner excavation"
612. spots of rain
613. unexpected conversation
614. cool evening breeze
615. learning descant to a piece my husband wrote [3 gifts musical]
616. tuberose blooming

617. sea salt caramel gelato
618. Facebook status: "heartbreak, heartbreak. If anything this time is giving me, is the cracking open, the breaking of my heart with testimony like this..." 
619. black furry caterpillar
620. two quarters
621. found fabric
622. a/c
623. a husband who will deal with serving the mess that is pad thai. (yummy, but oh so difficult to serve!)
624. bright green beetle flying
625. talking about collaborating on a creative project with Helena
626. ink-stained fingers

627. singing a duet with Clare
628. catching up with a friend overseas via Facebook chat
629. family dinner

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Week 4 of Inner Excavation... (and a bit of 5 and 6)

So here it is, week 4 and I thought I would share the photos I've taken as part of the photography prompts as well as part of a journal spread that I'm doing.

I wanted to put feet into the image below, but couldn't swing the iPhone camera (I didn't have a camera with me), not to mention that I didn't want to get run over.... So there are two images.

I actually got to know my camera a little better. I found out how to set the timer and take five continuous frames.

I also did a lot of jumping to get just one hovering shot.

I think last week and this week's photography prompts will be ongoing. (Hmm, if I take my camera to O.B. and jump around on the cliffs, would the neighbors think I'm being weird, or will they not even notice? Maybe one of the gardeners will come and take my temperature.) Mainly because the photography prompts are a ton of fun.

Chapter 5 and Self-Portraits

At the time of writing (Sunday) I just finished reading Chapter 5 and watching the videos and somehow I've merged this chapter and the next one together, because I did a self-portrait this past week (which is almost done, just need to finish the background -- so it matches the left hand side a bit) and work on the skirt some more).

and here's the portrait side updated since I first composed this post. It's still not quite done yet.

How I did the portrait:

I took a photo of myself using the timer, printed the photo onto paper and used a calligraphy nib and graphite paper to trace the outlines onto the Arches watercolor paper (first time I've used Arches). Then I used Prismacolor pencils to color it in (using the technique Suzi Blu teaches in her classes), and added watercolor over the top of that.

This is in my Full Tilt Boogie journal, so the poem is written on a flap. The costumed girl is from an Old Globe fundraiser invitation and that page isn't finished yet either. (So far it's the girl and a quote out of a Teavana brochure.) Not sure yet how I will finish it. The poem reads:

I see her

absorbed in her book
curled up in comfort
lost in another world
not really here.

I see her --
dreaming dreams
of adventures
envisioning a new church,
imagining the ancient,
wondering about monasticism

I see her --
feminine in skirts,
knees tucked up
cradling a book that grows heavy
at ease with herself,
forgetful of her self,
accepting her potential.

Chapter 6: Collaborations

I snuck ahead and skimmed through Chapter 6 because that's the week I'm going on retreat and I wanted to plan for what I will take with me craft-wise. That chapter is about collaborating. Writing poetry together, taking each other's portraits (or doing the same photography prompt and sharing the photos), or doing some sort of collaborative mixed-media painting or journal thingy.

Yeah, with others. This is freaking me out just a little bit.

I like to create on my own, although I have enjoyed participating in a few swaps and collaborative journals (like this Victoria one). At workshops, I'm the girl who puts her head down and gets it done and drifts around looking at other people's work. I'm happier with my nose in a book (in case you hadn't figured this out yet.)

Ultimately, I'm an introvert. So I think one of the things I'll end up doing with this chapter is journal about what communities I participate in and what they mean to me and what an intentional community would thus look like. Also, the chapter heading is "I open my heart" so I may reflect on that as well.

Although now that I've written that, the perfect person has come to mind. Wonder if she'll be up for it. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Joy Dare Monday ... dare to be joyful...

If you are here for the Where Bloggers Create party, it's the next post down.  If you want to see what caught my eye this year (and in past years), I have a Pinterest board dedicated to such.  I seem to really like repurposed things.

585. yellow blossom rainfall

586. writing a difficult post with as much grace as I could muster
587. overhead fans
588. (mostly) following schedule
589. squawking of mockingbird
590. spilling white vinegar and detergent solution on kitchen counter
591. spilled hot French onion soup all over my hand - flung bowl and broke it
592. first tomato of summer
593. floppy dog ears
594. mushroom sauce pasta (I love pasta but don't like mushrooms, he loves mushrooms but doesn't like pasta)
595. learning how to use the self timer on the camera

596. catching dog licking grease off my  breakfast plate
597. cloudy day
598. orangutang swinging from a sling he'd made
599. 19-14 day old flamingo
600. sleeping in
601. meeting a senior citizen who was trying out Tai Chi -- and who enjoyed her first Zumba class!
602. a little girl standing up to talk at her mum's funeral
603. "Lord, you know my rising ..." (Psalm 139)
604. lazy afternoon looking through the Where Bloggers Create party
605. the key changes going up and up for Amazing Grace
606. red flowers

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Bloggers Create: for real

This is the third time I've participated in the Where Bloggers Create party and I know I will be wasting a lot of time surfing the list and looking at people's creative spaces. This year will be the first time I'll be using Pinterest to save the photos that inspire, and if I can figure out how to link to that, I'll do so at the bottom of this post, as well as post it separately.

As my room hasn't changed much, I thought I would share what it really looks like week to week, between cleanups.

If you want to see it all pretty, you can look at last year's offering. If you want to see a space that's looks like it looks like until I can't find something, read (or look) on!

the work table: not just an insane number of Glimmer Mists, but sundry templates, stamps, 
inks, washi tapes, bits and pieces of paper. This desk holds a lot!

paper stuffed into the bookshelves at left, paper and fabric on the floor from when I 
put together the Full Tilt Boogie journal (see next image -- and Mary Ann Moss
has a summer sale going on the class!)
innit pretty? My first Full Tilt Boogie journal...
 Okay, back to what my art room really looks like:

pile of stuff on chair because I had to tidy up the guest bathroom where I wash 
brushes, pen nibs, rollers, stamps, etc... And as there's no room on my table...

the floor isn't so bad: my purple & black travel art kit that hasn't been put away yet, 
piles of magazines, book blocks, instructions, printed images, boxes that haven't been 
altered or found a home yet. At the back you can see two shipping boxes: one holds a
project, the other holds scrapbook paper I've been meaning to get rid of (but turns out 
useful for practice book-making)

the floor to the left of the image above: a purple canister out of place, a wicker basket 
full of journaling odds and ends, magazines, and buried under that is my Full Tilt Boogie
 journal, you can just see it peeking out from under the basket on the left
And that concludes my tour of my art space. Lately, I've been art journaling like mad and having huge fun doing it.

Don't forget  to look at the pretty from last year.

Does your art space get this "real"?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"grace for the good girl", chapters 13 and 14

On re-reading these chapters, it almost feels like I  have to go back to chapters 11 and 12, and ignore my agonizing over scripture interpretation and just pick up from the bottom of page 132 and read it again, because it feels like I've somehow missed something.

That perhaps, even though that I've experienced God's overwhelming love, I still don't quite believe it.

I remember that morning on the mountaintop (which I will blog about some day if I haven't already). The extravagant love poured upon me. Extravagant only because I didn't believe it would ever come.

And when for a while you believe that you'll never be worth God's love, it sticks. It's slowly getting unstuck, but there are days I forget. I trust in God more each day, and my actions, my worship, reflect that. On the days I'm trusting God, anyway.

And I remember His love more and more when my trigger of worry and anxiety is fired off. Some days I'm surrendering that fear to God sooner, and sometimes it's way later.

I think this is part of the long hard process of changing from "good girl" to "grace girl".

The read-along questions for this week's chapters are: 

Chapter 13 highlights the truth that we are a whole people. We cannot diagram our lives into segments, not really. Worship covers the circle, full. Do you struggle with the concept of worship in everything? In what ways are you beginning to see your living as worship?
In Christ, our safety has already been decided. By faith, we believe it to be true. In that case, our greatest enemy is not losing our salvation, trying to become worthy of love, or disappointing God. Our greatest enemy is forgetfulness – forgetting what we already have in Christ. Forgetting that we have been placed into safety because of him. In Chapter 14 we talk about setting our minds on truth. What does this practically look like for you? 
Intellectually, I know there is worship in every thing and every act. That's why Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" is so powerful, it is a day by day teaching of seeing God and giving thanks for God's working in my life. In every moment. 

But some days are a struggle to see any gift, and other days, I am so full of my work that the day breezes past without me even taking a breath, without stopping to remember.

Now that I'm not working, there's less work to breeze through, and I stop for prayer during the day, which helps me remember Christ's truth. This morning, though, it was a child's wail echoing through my mind: "Five more minutes on the internet, pleeeeeease?"

Emily says in "grace for the good girl" that the first two steps (in chapters 11 and 12) are the hardest, but I think this step of remembering the truth of God is probably twice as hard and there's precedent for it too. (Or maybe it's twice as hard because I haven't incorporated the first two steps yet.)

Look at how many times the Israelites in the Old Testament forgot their God! Sometimes I like to console myself that I am in good company, and have more compassion these days for the fallen-away Israelites than I had in my seriously-judgey days.

And it's a process, not a case of knocking off one step on my to-do list and moving onto the next. It's growing into a new way of being, learning a bit here, a bit there, incorporating, living into it, and then learning another piece of the puzzle. Learning it intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

So how do you remember God's truth?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Inner Excavation: Week 3

I am now two weeks behind the rest of the class, and working on week 3 may end up taking me a little bit longer as I haven't started the mixed media piece yet, but that's okay.

I thought I would share some photos from the ground (one of the exercises) and the poem notes that I wrote (another of the exercises).

You can follow along at your own pace, for free, at Lisa Lamoreux's blog.

It's been a long while since I've written poetry, so it's been fun doing this read-along and getting back to it. I hope to do more.

"4th July"
scorched blue sky
seared skin
solo anthem in silence
bbq corn
baby blue band

"in this moment"
menacing music
soap dramatic
warm sofa
scent of dog medicine and pee
rested, retired
lazy scribbling

"color of morning"
caramel and spices
orange syrup dripping
glow of tiny screen

earl grey tea
reading anything
sweeps of color
rustling leaves
warm arms holding me close
clean air
caramel and chocolate
salty salty chips
spaghetti bolognese
airy cotton
holy, thin places
natural beauty
eucalyptus scent
smell of home

(this one's my favorite)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"body and soul and spirit" in "grace for the good girl"

"grace for the good girl" by Emily Freeman is a book I would heartily recommend to anybody who needs to please, who is a Martha rather than a Mary, who identifies with the prodigal son's brother more than the son.

In fact, I finished reading the book and immediately handed it to a friend on retreat with me as I recognized that we shared some of the same "masks".

Even so, I struggled through Emily's interpretation of two pieces of scripture. I even ended up emailing her to ask about it. (She very generously replied with some links.) I did find my way to the same point she reached, so I was able to finish the book.

Also, I want to point out: this is two bits of scripture out of the many Emily refers to in this book. I don't recall any problems with the rest.

If Emily's interpretation worked for you, you don't need to read on. I am not saying she is wrong. I'm saying that my theology (built via my background and study) couldn't hold it. I am sufficiently post-modern enough to recognize that there is more than one way to interpret scripture.

First, my background, for those of you who don't know it. I'm Episcopalian (which is a liturgical church that traces it's splitting off from the Catholic Church to the Reformation and King Henry VIII). There's a certain worldview/theology that many Episcopalians hold (given that the House of Bishops just voted on approving same-sex blessings as I was writing this on a Monday, that might give you a clue as to where it's at). I've also completed a four year course called Education for Ministry which is put out by a seminary in Sewanee for lay people.

Second, I wouldn't be reading "grace for the good girl" again as part of Emily's read along, if I did not think it revealed much about giving up this trying to be perfect and instead having Christ living within us to guide us. It's a powerful message. I'm writing this in case anyone else tripped over this part of the book and stopped reading. If you did, you need to keep going.

Third, in going through this process, I recognized an amazing God-gift. Emily and I interpreted the scriptures differently and yet we both ended up at the same larger-than-both-of-us truth. That blows me away.

Chapter 10: the Fall and spirit (Genesis)

The first time I read this book I was on retreat at a monastery so of course I hit their library to find commentaries on this passage that might share Emily's interpretation. The second time, I was at home with the New Jerusalem Bible (heavily footnoted) and the New Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Plus the internet and my EfM course material.

Emily talks about how God killed the spirit in Adam and Eve as part of the Fall in Chapter 10 of her book. But I couldn't find a reference in this Genesis story to a death of anyone's spirit.

If anything, despite God warning that they will die, God stays His hand. His curse describes the consequences of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of  Good and Evil. He kills another creature to provide clothing for them and he expels them from the Garden of Eden, but they are not killed.

Our God is merciful.

That conclusion was the first step in helping me join Emily in her conclusion in her book.

Chapter 11: Paul's "body and soul and spirit" (1 Thess. 5:23)

Emily's concepts about this phrase were new to me also. I hadn't read Watchman Nee or Dudley Hall or Lynne Hybels to name a few of her resources in the back of the book. So what did the books I had read say about this verse?

I looked up the footnotes in the New Oxford NRSV. It concurred with my EfM material: that this phrase probably meant "the whole person" as it's a bit of literary parallelism with the first part: "...may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely..." (translation used in "grace for the good girl".)

The New Jerusalem Bible agreed and then went deeper. It looked at the Greek words Paul used to describe soul and spirit.

psyche - translated as "soul", that which makes us a living being. (Emily describes this as the ability to think, feel and choose. In Romans 7:25, Paul uses the Greek word nous for human reason and the mind.)

pneuma - "spirit." Either "the divine presence in a human being, giving new life in union with Christ...; or more probably as the innermost depths of the human being, open and awake to the Spirit" (pg. 1955, New Jerusalem Bible). Emily says this part of us is the invisible connection to God, which is another way of saying the same thing.

But, in "grace for the good girl", our spirits have been dead since Adam and Eve (see Chapter 10 notes above) and when we admit that death and "receive the One who is Life" (pg. 132), then we regain this connection to God. This doesn't sound like "open and awake."

It turns out that whether the spirit is dead or awake, it doesn't really matter, because with either state, we make a choice.

Not dead yet

This connection to God is not dead as has been shown throughout salvation history in the Old Testament: Abraham, Jacob, Rebecca, Job, Samuel and all the prophets; and in the New: Elizabeth and Mary before Jesus' birth. Were their spirits dead? To speak to God (or one of God's messengers) would suggest that this connection be open to God, else how would we hear?

Paul argues earlier in Romans about the righteousness (or faith) of Abraham in God's promise to Him. Those who heard God's Word spoken to them all believed, all had faith, all trusted in the Lord their God. Paul goes on to say (eventually) that now that we have new life in Christ, we have been acquitted of our sins as well.

And yet as Christians, Emily, myself (and you, if you're reading this because you've read "grace for the good girl") have either forgotten or ignored that we don't have to earn this acquittal and this is what we have to admit.

The freedom to choose

What happened as a result of the Fall is that Knowledge gave us an awareness of choices, morals, if you will. So do we choose to obey God by listening to the Spirit via our spirit, or do we make the choice that we are enough, that this is all on our shoulders? Do we choose the spirit or do we choose the self (what Emily calls the soul)?

And with that question we can rejoin Emily at the bottom of page 132, not even halfway through chapter 11!
"Now I have a choice. I can either receive truth from my circumstances by responding to what my soul tells me, or I can believe that God's Spirit is now united with my spirit and receive truth from him." (pg. 132-133)
It's always been a choice, and it's a choice that throughout history, we haven't always been successful in keeping. But making that choice, surrendering to the Christ within us, means no more masks and lightened burdens, although it's not a one-off choice, but one we need to continue to make, recognize and remember and ... well, read the rest of Emily's most excellent book, "grace for the good girl".

Monday, July 9, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: a restful week

566. blue lisianthus

567. canvas page too big for art journal
568. praying for one in surgery
569. first "not working" day
570. mythic family roots
571. "one of these things is not like the others". Driving up to Julian in our Prius surrounded by bikers.
572. white wing tips on a broad eagle span
573. total silence at the 4th of July parade in Julian as a high school senior sung the National Anthem. Total. Silence.
574. sunburn
575. flash of bright blue feathers (stellar jay)
576. rose-lavender sunset
577. hollyhocks

578. pre-dawn bird chatter
579. relaxing at home
580. searching for tape to match label makers
581. comfort food - spinach tortellini and alfredo sauce
582. singing with "vim and vigor" (as one parishioner commented to me during the peace)
583. dewy sweat on skin
584. whistling "The Andy Griffith Show" theme successfully

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How to Make Room for God, Pt. 2

Since I wrote that "Sabbatical Daily Schedule" (which was a couple of weeks ago as I started to get anxious about what exactly I would be doing in my soon-to-be copious spare time, but posted about last week, see link below), the bloggers I read have touched on this subject.

In sort of the order I found them:

  • Christianne Squires over at Still Forming has been blogging a whole series on Living a Rhythmed Life which I have been thoroughly enjoying;
  • and then, just as I was wondering if I needed to totally redo my schedule, or just declare them guidelines for when I drift toward distractions instead of intentions, along comes Jennifer Lee at Getting Down with Jesus with her beautiful post and images on "...The Truth About Our Plans"
  • which got me to finally articulate in writing what I'd been sharing in a few conversations here and there in "How To Make Time for God"
And the blog posts just kept coming, even after I'd written the post (if not quite posted it) ...
And here are other blog posts of note this past month:
What are some good blog posts you've read lately?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Setting A Transition to Music...

As I mentioned in last week's Monday post, I put together a playlist of tunes to help me through this transition. I am leaving a job I like, and will no longer be working with people I like (although I am still planning on making the Thursday Chuao's trips).

And so, I put together a playlist to listen to and remind myself. I call it Leaving With Grace...
  1. The Presence of the Lord is Here (Fran McKendree)
  2. Holy Spirit, Come Now (Jesse Manibusan)
  3. Use Me Up (John Tirro)
  4. Trust in Your Heart (from the musical "Paris")
  5. I Say Grace (Hayley Westenra)
  6. The Potter's Hand (Hillsong)
  7. This Journey Is My Own (Sara Groves)
  8. Unwritten (Natasha Bedingfield)
  9. Compelled (Sara Groves)
  10. Lifesong (Casting Crowns)
  11. How Can I Tell (Sara Groves)
  12. Tacos, Enchiladas and Beans (Doris Day)
  13. Dog Days Are Over (Pentatonix)
  14. Shut Up and Let Me Go (The Ting-Tings)
  15. Hymn (Brooke Fraser)
  16. It Is Well (Sara Groves)
Yeah, I diverged into a little bit of upbeat silliness, which has more to do with me bopping my head along to the music than being actually, you know, applicable.

I've uploaded this as a playlist on iTunes (hoping that I could somehow get it to play in here. Ah well.) One song is missing and I think that's because it's from an Australian recording.

[Leaving With Grace iTunes playlist]

Do you create and use playlists to change or perpetuate your mood?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Joy Dare Monday: a new life.

This past week was my last week at work and I was pretty happy right up until the moment I walked out of the office for the last time as an employee and the tears welled. I'll have a different life now, but it's important to acknowledge that I will miss the life I left behind.

Chris called Friday my Good Friday and that Sunday I would be a resurrected Leanne, parishioner. It seems to have turned out that way, although I got teary at church announcements where they thanked me for my work and made the mistake of opening my gift once we were done singing the communion hymns. Then I cried.

Ya know, it's nice to be loved and appreciated.

This past week's gifts:

544. lectio
545. crazy fun with ink
546. white bird at the top of a tree, like a Christmas decoration
547. good training day
548. contentment
549. M. dies
550. Mother-in-law in hospital (joking about medical procedures)
551. another convert to Chuao's
552. mother-in-law home
553. time for bits of art
554. "it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen)
555. last day
556. friendly dog
557. hearing a friend's voice
558. only thing my mother-in-law remembers from anesthesia to waking up at home the next day is how the elevator doors closed between her and I as we were leaving (I kept pressing the button but the doors kept closing!! Honestly!)
559. smell of hot pastry
560. lace box
561. Mexican Train dominoes
562. crosses in the sky

one had faded by the time I got the camera. But there were three...
563. appreciation
564. generous farewell gift
565. fresh vermont cheddar bread

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)