Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Journaling Holy Week ...

Clearly, I needed to have gone into this with a plan, not thinking halfway through the Palm Sunday service that this would be a good idea. Because, you know, I could've actually put some thought into this, but noooo....

I took an old Holy Week bulletin from a previous year, glued some cream cardstock, front and back to make the covers, and covered the spine in black bookcloth tape. Then I had to let it dry some, before decorating the cover.

(cross image from Ann Voskamp's Easter devotional)
I glued the pages to each other inside, which made for a 6 page booklet to cover 8 days (I decided to include Easter). That had to dry. So I went off to research what actually happened between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday.

For Palm Sunday, I sponged acrylic sponged over the text, added pictures from the internet and doodled some background stuff.

For each day, I'm adding the gifts for that day on a "Smash" card, or similar. For Palm Sunday, I wrote down some favorite lyrics, and some private and not-so-private thoughts about the day.

(stickers for Hawaii vacation came in handy!)
As I ended up doing most of this on Monday, I fell a bit behind on the "content" portion ... it just feels a bit shallow to me. I feel like I should've lectio divina'd the texts for each day and at least privately journaled on them. This, as we say, will be next year's plan, and I can use the images that I found this year to illustrate that again, if needed. Or, I can use phrases that have come out of that lectio divina to art journal around.

So that's next year's plan. We can call this year a practice run :) For example, I now know that I'll need a ton more pages if I'm going to be journaling lectio divina -- should they be a part of the art journal or separate? And should I make each page a fine art journal page? If so, I really ought to be working on it throughout all of Lent because it takes me about a week to finish a fine art page.

See what I mean?

not quite done yet -- Wednesday needs to be finished and I need to think on doodling...
and oh my gosh, one of the pictures is crooked ... see what I mean?!?!?!?!

Thursday's completed pages will hopefully be posted on Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday on either Sunday afternoon (super-optimistic) or some time on Monday.

How are you observing Holy Week?

Linking up with Jennifer's #TellHisStory

Monday, March 25, 2013

Joy Dare Monday: slipping and getting back up

Last week, I watched Ann Voskamp's video series based on her book to prepare to lead the adult Christian education group at my church, starting the Sunday after Easter.

In the session we won't watch together until the fall (because I only have three Sundays in April and will have to wait until then to finish it), Ann reminds me why it has been so hard for me to write down gifts lately.

Because my soul-eyes are closed when I'm caught up in having something productive to show for my day, especially in job hunting, that I forget to look and see the gifts of that moment. I am letting the days blur by.

The gift of God in having a roof over my head, sustenance both physical and spiritual, in my husband, in the silly companionship of dogs, in the quiet conversation with a neighbor.

I need to remember to give thanks in every moment, in every breath. Even when I don't feel like it.

The gifts for the past week:

213. blissed out and sleepy after yoga
214. tons of wisteria blooms

215. realizing non-violence has to start with me
216. computer keeps rebooting on its own
217. conversation
218. marine layer seeping onto Library Walk
219. tiny bubble on new screen cover
220. a moment of jealousy
221. tiny poppy seeds
222. quiet conversation with neighbor
223. Ann reminding me to see
224. dog scrounging under my computer desk
225. scab fell off
226. nap
227. phone conversation
228. pale orange sunrise
229. thick morning fog (it was clear half an hour ago!)
230. seeing a choir member return to church after a fall.
231. tingles while singing "And Every Stone Shall Cry"
232. getting rack of lamb recipe right. finally.

I decided in the middle of yesterday's Palm Sunday service to art journal Holy Week. So I made the journal yesterday. My goal is to post pictures of the journal pretty soon after the day described here on my blog, but we'll see how that goes as I had to leave the glue to dry before adding more wet media to the pages, so am already behind with Palm Sunday. Also, these are going to be quick and dirty art journal pages, not fine art 'cause usually it takes me a week or two to make a "fine art" art journal page.

Bonus cute pic: dogs lying together (from a couple of weeks ago. Did this make it onto my list? No... I saw God's gift (as these two rarely lie this close together), but I didn't record!)

Joining in Ann Voskamp's:

Friday, March 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes (returning)

So it's been a while since I've done the 7 Quick Takes, which are quite unlike the seven deadly sins but somehow there seems to be a lot of confessional stuff in the Takes that I read. Hmm.

Anyway, here we go:

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!


For some reason this week, I've kept thinking its the 18th of March (3 days in a row) and that it's the 4th week of Lent. I feel ready for Holy Week next week ... Almost.


I've been enjoying volunteering for the United Campus Ministry -- we hand out free cookies and the volunteers get to eat the broken ones. What's not to love?

I hope to get more reflective (less shallow) about this ministry later.


The Les Miz DVD is out today. What a wonderful film that was. Although perhaps they should release a highlights reel, which for me was every moment Ann Hathaway was on the screen, and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables".


By the way, you don't want to know how many times I've seen Les Miz the play ... I was a huge fan in college and probably could still sing most of it.


We've a new sound system at church, so  I'm looking forward to how that's gonna sound when my Episcopal church and the UCSD Newman Center Catholic Community get together this year. Hopefully, we will not literally blow them away. We're singing Mozart, a modern classical piece, gospel, contemporary Catholic Christian (for the psalm), and I hope L. is going to sing that lovely gospel piece again as she walks behind the cross processed around the sanctuary. Has to be one of my favorite moments.


In case you're wondering, we two churches become one on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and for an Advent concert. If I remember right -- because I was at Disneyland on Ash Wednesday and so missed that service. (Yes, I know.) The Ash Wednesday service is a liturgical mix (it's pretty similar in both traditions), Good Friday is more Catholic (for some reason I remember our Episcopal services being really short, but when you have a church full of people instead of the about 30 who show up for the Episcopal service, I guess it would take longer), and our Advent Choral Celebration is based on the Episcopal Lessons and Carols. 

And yeah, I love it when we come together. And not just because our choir becomes massive in size and sound.


I am reading an amazing book. Maggie Anton's Rav Hisda's Daughter (I am not being compensated in any way for this review. I bought the book 'cause it looked interesting). She has Diana Gabaldon's incredible detail (I now know how to make date beer), but the setting is rabbinic Jewish life in Babylonia, circa 200AD-ish. And no Jamie. But it doesn't matter 'cause Hisdadukh is a really interesting character although I find I forget how young she is. I was up after midnight reading it last night.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Becoming People of Peace Starts with You (and Me)

Since the events in Newtown, CT, last year, I have been praying for an end to gun violence. This post is a little bit about that, but mostly not. (Just in case you're sick to death of the topic. I promise also to spare you the infographics, statistics, etc.)

Yesterday, I read a story about the first American killed this year by a gun. He was about to graduate college when he died--and so the promise of his future years are now lost to us.

I found it via Facebook and read a handful of comments that were hate-filled and fear-filled -- from both sides.

From both sides.

The article and the comments made me realize that the insane rate of gun-related deaths would not be fixed by legislation alone (although I believe still necessary) or by fixing the mental health system, but the problem stemmed from the inability of seeing anyone other than oneself as a human being.

Oneself? I remembered a conversation from last night.

My husband shared that some people thought that the part of Satan in the Bible mini-series on The History Channel had been cast to look like our President.  (I kid you not.)

I rolled my eyes, both at the old oppressive stereotypes still being used and because "People are stupid."

Oneself? I needed to change my heart too. I have become caught up in the polarization that is endemic in the U.S.

And I thought I accorded dignity to every human being.

"Why aren't you mincing the garlic? It's easier," asks my husband while I chop vegetables for dinner.
Munich gargoyle

"Because the recipe calls for chopped, that's why," I snapped.

Oneself? I need to change my heart too.

I apologize later, explaining that dinner was running late and I hadn't wanted to get caught up in that expectation but had anyway.

You and I, we need to stop seeing people as the Other, and start seeing people as Beloved.

It's a process where we will fall down and get back up again over and over, letting a little more love into our hearts each time. 

It's only through trying, and prayer, and mindfulness and, most of all, by the grace of God that we will become a people of peace. To do that, we need to see others as God sees them. The God who loves each and every one of us. It's a challenge, but it's one we've been asked to take on since Jesus walked the earth.

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we will be saved, in quietness and confidence will be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

How do you see people as other? How could you change that view?

Linking up with Jennifer's #TellHisStory

Monday, March 18, 2013

Joy Dare Monday: week 4 in Lent

Have you heard of Lent Madness? Chances are, if you're Episcopalian, your answer is yes. It's based on basketball's March Madness, only saints are pitted against each other ... It's a great learning tool about the various saints and saintly people -- but otherwise, isn't remotely rational or logical who gets through to the next round and it gets just a bit silly. Especially when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Archbishop John Crysostom debate who is going to win or lose from heaven.

So below I mentioned a fried freckle. It was a freckle that had two of the signs of melanoma (dark and irregular shape), so it got frozen off with liquid nitrogen. When the scab eventually falls off, we'll see if that did the trick or not. When you have as many freckles as I do and grow up under the hole in the ozone layer, it pays to be aware.

One of the gifts below that I list is the DVD of the One Thousand Gifts book study. I'm excited that I'll be leading this after church on Sundays, following Easter. If the first video on YouTube is any indication, it'll be (a) fabulous; and (b) worth stocking up on tissues.

191. voting differently than I planned in Lent Madness
192. beautiful day
193. fried freckle

a week after the freezing off of ... still waiting on scab to fall off ...
194. free cookies = free grace
195. first freesia

196. frogs croaking as we drive by
197. stretching
198. great posture
199. looking into the gym's full length mirror and accepting my body as beautiful as it is
200. heavy marine layer: tops of buildings invisible
201. coloring in on the floor with four little ones
202. fingers of fog drifting in over the hills
203. grilled cheese open face sandwich
204. follow-up boob squish okay
205. 1,000 Gifts DVD arrived. Excited to be leading discussion on this soon.
206. dog's face in mine, wanting to know if I'm asleep or dead!
207. dog watching the singing

208. night jasmine scent filling the air
209. river of rocks

210. smoke wafting up from new sound system mixer (yay! new soundsystem!)
211. Irish upbeat music 
212. chicken bone

Joining in Ann Voskamp's:

Friday, March 15, 2013

So Google Reader is going away....

a pretty flower photo to make sad Google Reader users smile.
I don't normally do tech posts, but perhaps this'll help someone else who needs to make a similar move once Google Reader goes away July 1st.

I loved how all the blogs I read were in one place and I didn't have to flit from blog to blog searching for new posts.

Fortunately, there are other collating blog readers out there (also known as RSS feed readers).

The easiest way seems to be Feedly. You login with your Google account and it transfers everything over for you. When Google Reader goes away, they'll be using a different feed engine. There are migration instructions for Feedly too.

If that kind of thing is important -- Feedly has apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android and Kindle.

CopyBlogger (which has been great at providing these links as part of their article) also suggests using Google Takeout to back up your data or if you want to move to a different blog reader that isn't as easy to move to as Feedly. Probably not a bad idea to do that first, especially if you decide you want to use something else. I don't know about you, but I have a ton of starred items that I probably wouldn't miss, but then I have gone hunting for old articles in the past.

Don't want to use Feedly? The CopyBlogger article has a link to an article on 12 Google Reader Alternatives. (Make that 11, one of the 12 will also go away when Google Reader does.)

Feedly doesn't look the same as Google Reader. Actually, it looks kind of cool. So here's what I've learned in the first five minutes of using it.

(1) Waah! Why is it showing this "Featured" thing instead of all my articles?
Beats me. But on the left side at the top there's this small image that look like short dark grey lines. That's a drop down menu, so you can change what you want to see. For all of them, choose "All" in that menu -- and if you'd grouped your blog feeds (as I did into, "News", "Collage", etc) you can look at a particular feed that way too.

(2) Where are my starred and kept unread articles?
Same menu -- look for "Saved" with a little bookmark image in front of it. It's near the top.

(3) You can make it look a bit like Pinterest.
Yeah, check out the gear drop-down menu on the right hand side, near the refresh button. You can look at your feed a bunch of different ways.

So fellow users of Google Reader .... where are you moving to? Do you use something other than Google Reader to read all the blogs you follow? What is it? What do you like about it?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When Your Mind Won't Be Still ...

This Lent, I took on the spiritual discipline of meditation.

It got off to a rocky start, I did really well last week, and this week, my routine became unstuck: appointments, delayed chores, all have combined to stop me meditating except for a few blissful moments in yoga class today.

Yeah, it's blissful, it's something I long for, and yet, if there is an excuse for it not to happen....

And it gets worse. The one thing I struggle with when I do sit down to meditate is keeping my mind still. I live in my brain: it's where I nut out my writing, my battling with scripture, and it is what I feed with books on scripture, spiritual practices and living.

Yeah, stilling that is pretty hard.

Have you ever been told to give something over to Jesus, to lay it at the foot of His cross? Have you ever wanted to kick them in the shins because it's not as easy as saying it? But of course, we don't kick them because we are nice Christians. We smile and complain how hard that is to do, and change the subject.  (Please tell me you do this too.)

Last night, after four days of no meditation, I lay awake. I ruminated over that evening's meeting. Something that tickled that I let pass.

Over an hour later, I'm still thinking about it. That's one of my quirks, which is both a gift and a curse. I review, I rehearse, I obsess.

I take a breath, use a meditation technique, praying The Jesus Prayer as I breathe in, as I breathe out.

A moment's peace and the subject grips me again. It takes me a little while to realize it. To realize that by sticking with this thought I am robbing myself of joy, of love, of peace. I need to stop thinking about this. Now.

"God," I pray silently, "I lay this burden at the foot of your cross. Please take it from me."

There's a release, a letting go. I start to dream ...

I didn't think it was going to be that easy, did I? My crafty brain approaches the thought from an entirely different, unwelcome angle.

I catch on quicker this time, think, "Looks like I picked the burden up again, God. Here you go..."

And at last, at last, I fall asleep.

I dream of water, of swimming in it ... and wake up with that sense of peace that so eluded me the night before.

My mind kicks in again, but not about an obsessive thought, but how dreaming of the ocean was God's way of forgiving me, of saving me, by washing me clean again and again and again.

You  might have to lay your burdens at the foot of the cross more than twice. It might be ten times. A thousand. Ten times a thousand. It might be the hardest thing you ever do, but try it and receive God's love and grace, and especially for this tired brain, peace.

Linking with:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Joy Dare Monday ...

Busy day today so haven't had a chance until now to write this blog post. So it's short today!

171. sleep in
172. fresh air
173. good news from the monks
174. where I format the wrong hard drive
175. walking through dewy wet grass in the early morning
176. a skittish Alsatian pup that let itself be herded back into its backyard
177. receiving love, giving love
178. warmth of Reiki
179. whacking long grass
180. big flag

181. eucalypt trunks glowing in the dark
182. dog foraging for crumbs on hubby
183. smell of rain / English weather morning
184. profile of dog sitting in my lap
185. the orange glow in a window across the street.

186. weeding before it rains again (so much easier to do after the rain)
187.  journaling
188. laying paint down (getting back to art journaling)
189. first rose of the year

it's a bit squashed looking -- but can you spot the drops of dew?
190. chanting at start of service

Joining in Ann Voskamp's:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When God Doesn't Seem to Love You As Much...

altar rail detail, St. Paul's Cathedral, chapel, San Diego
Have you ever had that moment when reading or hearing Scripture (we'll leave interpretation and preaching of said Scripture aside for the moment), and you are shaken to discover God doesn't seem to like you as much as you thought He was supposed to? That the Scripture you are reading demeans women, or ratifies slavery, or reviles the foreigner (hey, most of us are Gentiles, remember).

When you read that there are sheep and goats and God will decide which are the sheep who get into heaven and which are the goats who will be cast into hell with much wailing and gnashing of teeth (making my orthodontist quite unhappy).

And somewhere, perhaps  not so deep down, you wonder if you're following Christ truly enough to count as a sheep, because after all most of us in the United States are still among the richest people in this world.

I am doing the Bible Challenge again this year and this is where stuff like this comes bubbling up. Last year I read it canonically (straight through), this year I'm reading it chronologically, using George H. Guthrie's "Reader's Guide to the Bible: Chronological Reading Plan", which is, of course, a best guess as to the chronological order of when the stories in the Bible happened.

We're in Numbers right now, where God does a great deal of smiting of people who argue with Him, or complain too loudly, or want to be holier than they currently are. (Numbers, chapters 14-16, but not only there.)

Last week we read in Numbers 5:11-31 about the law when a man knows or suspects his wife is committing adultery. In summary, the man brings his wife before the priest and she agrees to drink the priest's "water of bitterness that brings the curse" (v. 24, CEB). If she miscarries, she's guilty. Meantime, the man's brought a guilt offering for his jealousy (v. 15), a bit of flour, which is also an offering to recognize guilt. The instructions for this end with:
"The man will be free from guilt, but the woman will bear her guilt." (v. 31)

There's no punishment for the man for his jealousy -- he's already "paid" for it with his bit of flour, but the woman ... bearing in mind that the water is probably some sort of drug to bring on her period ...

This isn't the only time woman draws the short straw in the Torah.

And then I realize ... that this rule, barbaric as it was, was a step up in treatment of women from other Middle Eastern law codes. (I read this somewhere.)

And that as we continue to read through the Bible, God continues the steps upward to equality, no giant leaps beyond one's fathoming, but steps that aren't too much to ask: women become judges, the prophets cry out for the widow and the orphan, Jesus recognizes the unclean woman, the Samaritan woman, women are the first to witness God's resurrection and spread the good news, women become deacons, leaders of the church... until Greek/Roman codes of conduct catch up with a church that seeks acceptance in its community, anyway, but even then it's a step beyond. (for a great explanation on the last, see Rachel Held Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood)

God encourages us to take that one more step for equality and freedom, be it for women, slaves, LBGT, any minority you care to think of, any "other" that sits outside your comfort zone.

God loves us all and step by step he brings us up to the same level of love.

May we see it in our lifetime.

I'll be writing about my scripture struggles throughout the year as I read the Bible again. How about you? Are there parts of the Bible that make you wonder about God's love for you?

PS. I discovered a new blogger, Kristen, which I think you should read, if you too struggle with this Bible texts. This post is, and this one starts a series on 1 Timothy -- the "woman should be silent" verse which appears to be a pretty lousy translation from Greek. Makes me wish how much else has been mis-translated....

Linking up with:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Joy Dare Monday: in which I nearly forget...

I almost forgot to post today! Yipes. I should be starting dinner, so this'll  be quick in the list department.

Oh, but I have to tell you -- I made marmalade this week, with oranges from the tree in our backyard (plus a couple of clementines and lemons).

OK, now onto the list of the ways God has gifted me last week:

154. passionfruit vine still. has. passionfruit. on it.
155. extra grocery store trip -- lovely breeze
156. citrus juice in paper cut
157. birdsong
158. sticky jam
159. sweating at yoga
160. garlic burps
161. salted caramel frappe - preparing for a 79degF day

162. eating outside (in the shade) on this beautiful day
163. singing the end of "Ave verum corpus" over and over and...
164. iPhone update ate most of my apps (it's okay, I got them back)
165. lily of the valley blooming

166. blissful moment of shadow on a hot day
167. smell of five-spice pork belly
168. pork belly
169. Archbishop of Burundi at our church
170. running late for interview

Joining in Ann Voskamp's:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

God's Love Stories ....

I keep delaying sending this out, I don't know why. At any rate, here are some blog posts that I found particularly moving and/or inspiring.
May you choose love today.

Hunter Valley vineyards, Australia