Showing posts from November, 2013

What's this EfM thing?

Frequently during my 31 days of blogging, I mentioned EfM or Education for Ministry. Although the school year is well underway, I thought I would write about it. It's a four year course for lay people. The course has recently (finally!) undergone some revision, including new texts, but I think the basic outline is the same: One year Old Testament One year New Testament One year church history, theology and tradition (up to American Revolution) One year continuing church history, theology It looks like these last two are the most overhauled, as I checked out the new texts and it looks like they've finally made it to the 21st Century. But that's the worst I can say for my EfM experience.  The best was learning to be part of a new small group, of learning to discern together, and to support each other through our faith crises. And yes, each of us in the group struggled with a part of the Scriptures or theology as our mostly child-formed theology met

500th Post!

Here it is, my 500th blog post here on Provoking Beauty. Before I announce the winner, I thought I would share what I think is in store for this blog in the months ahead. more Judaism reflections more exploration of early church and what that means for my worship experience today a series on the Magnificat, one line at a time (anyone want to guest post?  I plan to do 2 "lines" a month) a finished icon (!!!) more on God's blessings and healing the world And the winner is: Lory and my Mum! (as they were the only two that entered!) Maybe next time I should have that piece of art finished so folks might be inclined to enter. The goal is to get the two pieces done this weekend, but first I have to go cook a Thanksgiving feast! Oh and has free e-cards to send over Thanksgivukkah! There's a really pretty blue one, but I don't think I have permission to post it here. Go take a look and send one to a friend :)

Icon Writing #10

And we're not done yet. (Did that spoil the ending?) No first both Mary and Jesus needed facelifts: blurry photo, sorry Actually, we've secured a bit of a CD so that the compass doesn't dig a hole into those beautiful faces. We laid the gold leaf onto the halos. Not without mishap. I ended up with several holes where I'd either didn't put the glue on or it lifted somehow. tattered halo Again, I turned to our past workshop teacher, afraid that if I put glue down it might ruin the gold already there ... Meanwhile, while we waited for her to email us on her day off (sorry, Paige). We prepared to lay down the red outline of the halo. It's putting diluted red paint into a ruling pen and then drawing the compass in a partial circle. It's terrifying. Especially when we couldn't get the consistency right and in our practice arcs the paint just glomped out. But Helena finally got it right and away we went. End of Day November 23.

Jumping off the bandwagon ...

... while everybody is jumping on it. It's kind of baffling me. I grew up watching "Doctor Who". I was upset when it was pre-empted by cricket. I grew up with the Doctor of Tom Baker, and was faithful to the program until it was canceled (and/or I emigrated to the United States and couldn't get it any more, but I think it was already canceled by that point). I was so excited when it was resurrected with Christopher Eccleson in the title role. And it was awesome. Up to and including Matt Smith. Got the life scared out of me by "Blink". But somewhere it went wrong. It didn't help that BBC America forgot to mark a bunch of episodes as new so I missed a few David Tennant episodes, but I kept watching. When the Ponds exited, so did I. Not because they were the companions and there are no other but because I was fatigued. Watching Doctor Who stopped being something for fun and began to be a struggle to watch. And I persevered through the writers t

How I stopped feeling so exhausted

I was feeling exhausted at work, which at first I thought was because this is the first time I've worked full time in a long time. But the exhaustion didn't go away after a couple of months so I did some reading especially as I was already taking Vitamin D per my doctor's advice. And let me start out here by saying: if you're feeling exhausted, there's a reason for it. The one I'm about to share that was mine, may not be yours. I am sharing my experience and am not a doctor!  I read that one of the things to feel more awake is to protect your Circadian rhythms. We have two neighbors who live behind us who like to keep their exterior lights on all night. It is like a full fluorescent moon every night. So I tried an eye mask to fully rest the eyes and it seems to be working. My exhaustion is pretty much gone with the occasional days of still feeling tired and there's even some energy left at the end of the day. Before I started trying to

Getting close to 500 posts

In a few days my 500th post on this blog will go live. I've noticed that the thing to do is to have a giveaway and do a retrospective. So first the giveaway. It will be a piece of art (no, not an icon!) that I have made. I had this idea (may even have blogged about it) which never came to fruition because that happens with ideas sometimes. So it'll be a 5"x5" canvas piece and will probably look something like this: But more detailed because I haven't say down to paint it yet. So if you would like to win it, just leave a comment, maybe about what your favorite post here has been, but it can also be a comment that says: "ooh! A giveaway!" Please be sure to leave an email I can contact you with, if you don't have a profile with an email address. After 12 midnight on Sunday 24th November, I'll pick the winner! Retrospective This blog started when I migrated from livejournal and wanted to share pictures of whatever I

Healing the World: World Vision

I mentioned during the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism about the concept of tikkun olam , or healing the world. There are many ways to do this, and this might become a recurring theme on this blog, but the first way is perhaps not the most obvious. I'd like you to join me in sponsoring a child through World Vision. It's an act that makes the difference for not just a single child, but for her family and her village. It'll transform you, too. It took me a long time to decide to become a child sponsor. I worried about the overhead costs, and how much benefit it would really have. (Rachel Held Evans did too , but promise me you’ll come back and finish reading this post!) But then God slowly worked to change my heart. It was a woman speaker at a conference (I wish I could remember who -- it was in Orange County) who talked about meeting the child whose photo was on her fridge. It was fellow bloggers who wrote about traveling to these places where child sponsorsh

Dare to Be Joyful

This Sunday I'm leading the adult Christian education session at Good Sam through a book that profoundly impacted my life: how I see the world, and how I respond as a follower of Christ. I started this back in April with three sessions, and now in November will finish with the last two videos (the author’s publisher released a DVD study), plus a catch-up session, with some additional new material for those who came in the spring. The book is Ann Voskamp’s "One Thousand Gifts", a New York Times best seller. My mum introduced me to the book and it took a while for me to actually start reading it. It's Ann's journey of gratitude -- how seeing and writing down God's gifts transforms an ordinary, dull day into one filled with God and his delight and love for us. Ann's book has changed me. Writing down God-gifts reminds me to look for God every day, even when times are troubled or hard. And when I forget to look? It’s like the light has gone from

Icon Writing #9: in which not very much icon writing was done...

... as Helena caught up on her painting of white spots, I hung out with Mary and baby Jesus... and discovered that our premixed hair, parchment, etc colors had dried out.  So I sat and mixed paints  ... and squealed as carbon black went everywhere! Helena insisted I replicate the look on my face: then we went and had lunch and decided not to do a border (sorry, Paige) and so we painted the edges of the board. But I did do one other thing, can you spot it? To be fair, it was only a little bit of outlining. Next time, (hopefully next week) we'll do the gilding and swing the halo, although I think I said we were going to do that last time

Washed in the water

This was originally part of all the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism (see  here ). But then I came up with too many posts, so I've saved it for a Faith Friday. This isn't a current Jewish practice that I know of, but did you know that converts to Judaism went through a baptism to cleanse them of all things pagan? And that the early Christians borrowed the practice for their converts? (Source: In the Shadow of the Temple) Neat, huh. Water is still used in parts of Judaism for spiritual cleansing. If you remember, Leviticus is squicked out my menstrual blood and childbirth. Giving birth to new life is also considered holy, so the mikveh is used, the woman immersing herself in living water. Many Christian groups have moved from a baptism by immersion to sprinkling water on the head so in this the two faith traditions today have largely moved away from this commonality. I'm still geeked about it as a (to me) discovery.


This was part of the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism ( here ) but I came up with yet another post that pushed this one out, even though I like this post immensely. The psalms are at the heart of Christian monastic practice. As an Associate of the Order of Holy Cross, I am a little hooked on the monastic way of life. For those of you who are new readers of my blog, I keep a rule of life which means I pray morning and evening, among other things. While one could very safely say that the Torah is at the heart of Jewish practice, the psalms have a place too. I got a thrill seeing my favorite psalm used in the Saturday morning liturgy. That would be Psalm 150 which is my favorite because: a) it's short; and b) the tones used by the Mt. Calvary monks used to chant this are just lovely. I'd chant it quite happily around work, except there seems to have been this compulsion to add a verse on the Trinity to the end of every blessed psalm. You know, just in case Christian monasti

God's love stories... post 31 days

I waited too long, a couple of the blog posts I wanted to share fell off my feedly stream. I'll see if I can find them, so to save the rest of them.... The Sacrament of the Present Moment by God in All Things One of the Most Important Grace Stories I've Ever Told by Jennifer Dukes Lee -- this one is making me think and maybe dream a little of what radical hospitality could look like in my household... and I started thinking this before the teary ending...  Rachel Held Evans preached at an Episcopal church, from the lectionary, and t his is her sermon  (which is awesome) I confess, I started skimming this post after a while when she started focusing on the evangelical church, but I found the first half  Saved By Being Right: Christianity and Dogmatism by Wordgazer's Words compelling and echoed some of my recent thinking in a way -- and I'm not even from an evangelical church. Laura Boggess as part of her 31-ish Days of Prayer shared Thomas Merton's Praye

Reviewing the 31 Days Challenge ...

I thought it might be interesting to review what it was like to participate in the 31 Days challenge ... I didn't write on a daily basis. I knew I wouldn't have the time nor energy for that. I wrote in batches, maybe five or six posts at a time, I wasn't really keeping track, some of them typed straight into Blogger (which means I need to do a back up somehow) and some in the Notes app of my iPhone. It sort of reminded me of the days when I wrote novels while working. I can still crank out the words! I finished writing my 31 posts two weeks before the last day. Which gave me the flexibility to insert other posts if something came up -- that happened a couple of times in this particular challenge and you'll see the posts that got "bumped" in coming weeks. There were a couple of posts where I got stuck as what to write, and they got pushed further back into the month, and one of them just ended up being a really short post. Most of them were without pi