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Showing posts from 2016

Mary of Aleppo

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Every year some part of the Jesus birth narrative strikes me differently. For the past few years, it has been that the birth wasn't a pretty, sanitized thing, but was full of dirt and muck and loneliness. The song, "Labor of Love" by Andrew Peterson, has been my song of the season in the past. This year it is Mary's Magnificat that has captured and held my attention. I've read a couple of articles about how Mary was not meek and mild but that she was a revolutionary, a rebel against the occupation. I'm sure you've seen the video footage coming out of Aleppo. I watched one yesterday that started with a shell-shocked child sitting on a gurney, like so many of the shell-shocked Syrian children we've seen lately. Blood is on his forehead. Beside him was a woman from the same building that had been bombed. She is mourning and crying for her lost children. Her face is bloodied also. "Omran, Angels Are Here!" by Judith Behr The camera move

What I Learned This Fall

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Emily over at chatting at the sky , is now doing quarterly link-ups for what we've learned each quarter. Previously, it was each month and before I knew it the month was over and I hadn't gotten around to posting. So, here's hoping quarterly does the trick! 1.  I love painting intuitively. I took Flora Bowley 's Bloom True-course this fall and finished a painting that just glows with color. But the more important thing was that the act of painting (by making a series of marks, grooving, just seeing where the color and marks take you) brings me joy, even when I'm angry or upset. Putting paint on a canvas really makes a difference. Am wondering if this should really be my meditation practice... 2. Being open to other worship experiences can bring clarity It helped me to remember what is important about worship. In a short time span, I attended an interfaith labyrinth service, a UCC church and three other Episcopal churches. One of the latter is St. Gr

Should We Let this Election Continue to Bring out The Worst in Us?

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This week I have seen a lot of hate on my Facebook feed. Hate toward Trump voters, non-voters, third-party voters, Clinton voters. Nasty comments in people's posts that are filled with disdain and viciousness. I have read about reported acts of hate toward people of color, women, muslims and LGBTQI people. I have a mixed crowd of all kinds of people and politics on my Facebook feed. Over the course of the election, I felt the need only to unfriend one person who was viciously mean and disrespectful. Now my feed is full of meanness and disrespect. Imagine two monkeys so angry at each other they start hurling their excrement. That's what it is like now and we're starting to stink of shit. I've taken refuge in art (I am having an amazing time taking Flora Bowley 's Bloom True e-course), posting photos of my dogs, and I am seriously considered taking a Facebook fast. So why are my friends behaving so badly? Have we, lost in our hurts, forgotten who we are? Beings

A new creed...

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Diana Butler Bass shared this on her Facebook page and it is worth sharing for reflection in these last few days before the election ... and after.

Why I am developing my artistic style

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ok, so not one of my recent "strong women" portraits. but this post should give some reasons as to why you don't get to see them. Lately, I’ve been working in the Ever After class which, while on the subject of fairytales, is a big step for me. It’s the step beyond “learn this technique” or “follow an artist’s footsteps” to uncovering my own style, and create paintings of my own. I am loving this — learning what I like and don’t like, struggling to create expressive faces, and coming up with ideas that feel true to me. I have learned that I like to paint strong women. Women who not only survive, but thrive. And weirdly, the eyes have decided to get larger lately. Maybe because I am seeing more. But then the question hit me: Why do I want to develop my own style? What is wrong with following along with lessons? What am I going to do this style of mine? First, I want to tell my own stories. Whether they reflect what is happening to me, or whether they

God's love stories ....

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Here are some interesting stories and thoughts found on the internets this past month. Aiming for stories of love and thanksgiving... A Blessing for a Year by Erin Ramsey-Tooher at God in All Things , a beautiful story about blessing (thanking) God for life. Look, I'm not a Mum, and I usually skip "mommy"posts but the one above and this one have deeper stories to tell: Look at the Birdies by Katie Lacz at God in All Things Iowa's Breaking Bread ministry mixes sacred with secular by Luke Blount at The Episcopal News Service It is epically long (almost two hours) but The Liturgists' podcast on Religious Art is well worth listening to ... well, until they get super-philosophical and existential at the end where they lost me, but at least they realized the rabbit hole they went down (which was kind of funny). The Gift of the Green Blob , a must read at Momastery Is God Transgender? discussing the gender fluidity of God by Mark Sameth at The New York Ti

Grounding with Some Zest

In April, I finished reading " Grounded: Finding God in the World -- A Spiritual Revolution ", by Diana Butler Bass. There were many things that were great about the book, and it was a good beginning (it inspired me to write a poem ) but by the end it felt like a whole other book could now be written. This is because I had some reader-baggage / preferences that came up as I read the book, and rather that writing to the author and complaining, I wondered what about the book discomfited me. Each chapter starts with a theology of grace, even abundance (in the non-prosperity gospel sense of the word!), rejoicing in these gifts that we have been given on "this earth, our island home" (a quote from a Book of Common Prayer Eucharist service) but halfway through a number of the chapters it switched to a scarcity-based theology: good soil and clean, fresh water is disappearing, air pollution, etc.  It is all true. Good soil is disappearing, air pollution is maki

Finding sanctuary

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I have gone silent a bit lately because well ... I have dogs once more. Two adorable, smarter-than-me, could-do-with-some-training (and they're getting it), wee dogs that have been taking up a lot of my attention lately as we settle in together. They're shelter dogs, were turned in as strays, and had terrible matted coats so they have some serious separation anxiety issues but we're working on them. Earlier in the year, I finished reading " Grounded ", by Diana Butler Bass. The opening introduction inspired me to write a poem about the two Mt. Calvarys. ( Mt. Calvary is a monastery retreat house in Santa Barbara.) The one on the hill top before it was destroyed by fire and its current location. I thought I'd share the poem. On a mountaintop My heart broke open, filled with God's warmth In a city sanctuary: Conversations with bees, Rubbing wood prayer beads As storm blue clouds loomed, bad exhausts and loud music Whittled away in

God's Love Stories ... listening and loving

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My superpower is to get out of a crowd quickly. I'm not a small person, so I do indeed treat this as a particular gift. While I do have, in some measure, kindness and empathy, it is seasons like the one we're currently in where I wish I had it to the extent that it is a superpower: Empathy Girl. (See, I already have a name for it, and I am longing to do a portrait of her too.) The articles I've found are about coming together as human beings to love and care for one another. First, though, I highly recommend this Meditation When the World is Falling Apart by Christianne Squires at Still Forming . It is a beautiful thing. How to Listen when you Disagree: A Lesson from the Republican National Convention at Urban Confessional Hospitality and the Secret Power of Weakness by Micha Boyett at Grace Table Holy Spirit and Holy Empathy by Scott Gun at Seven Whole Days,  a lovely reflection on how things went down at the recent Anglican Church of Canada synod Send Fo

Happy Pride

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Happy Pride! I’ve never been to a Pride Parade before, let alone walked in one.  It’s the crowds, you see, and the heat, as I told a friend. But after the tragedy at Pulse in Florida, I felt a pull toward showing my support for the LGBTQI community, but by that time entries into the parade had closed. No worries, our new deacon at Good Sam got a small handful of us organized and we walked with St. Paul’s Cathedral, along with about four other churches on Saturday. Three church ladies walk in a parade... As we waited our turn to go, we cheered wildly for the various police departments and law enforcement that passed us by. Because, Dallas. I have no idea how San Diego measures up against the reformed police department in Dallas, but in that moment, it didn’t matter. I looked up at the streamers carried by the St. Bart’s youth, that usually represent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in church. And here they were in the world. Yes, I thought. The Holy Spirit

Update to Where Bloggers Create

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I have an update to my overhaul of my art space and it is also an opportunity to link to this year's Where Bloggers Create , hosted by Karen Valentine at My Desert Cottage . I found that I needed somewhere to put a palette/paint mixing place, and as the goal was not to use the icon writing space for anything but icon writing, I brought a piece of furniture that had been banished from the space for a few years, put some plastic wrap on it to protect the top and I'm currently using palette paper for the mixing. When I run out of that, I'll look into get some glass or perspex or something for the top. Here is that part of the space before: and after (apologies for the lighting, it was twilight when I took the photo): It's a pine bedside table that I painted and used for storage for a while. So if you haven't seen my overhaul that I did in June, you can see that at this link . And for previous instantiations of my craft room now art stu

How We Can End Violence

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It's been a horrible few weeks in America. There seems to be some sort of madness infecting the population: fear, hatred, anger. And let's be honest, we've all felt one or more of those things in the past month, whether it's anger at our government for failing to implement protective measures for its citizenry (come on, not even a little gun control?!), fear of being hurt, dispossessed, rendered voiceless, etc. If you took a good look at yourself, you've probably at least reacted to something in fear, or anger, or frustration. I know I have. It's part of being human. But as a nation, we are out of balance. We are letting our darker natures get the better of us. After each police-caused death of an African-American, we cry out for anti-bias training in the police forces as part of the reform. Yes, but where do police officers come from? From our towns, from our churches, our temples and our mosques, from our friends, and from our families. Where do you

9 Things I would never had known if I hadn't moved to America

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Hubby and I on a rainy day in Disneyland eating churros The title seems to maybe have the wrong number of negatives, but you know what I mean, right? How to write romances: early on I joined Romance Writers of America, because that's what I was writing and I didn't know anybody outside of my husband's family How to spell without a "u", e.g. "colour" vs "color" fish tacos churros I really doubt I would've learned more about my faith, the Bible, Christian history thanks to taking Education for Ministry and from becoming members at Good Sam Benedictine monastery food is really good I would've have pronounced "Cursillo" incorrectly. (Hint: it's not Curs-ILL-oh) How amazingly wonderful Disneyland is  Judaism: working in a synagogue has taught (and is teaching me) a lot. Not a whole lot of opportunities to work in a synagogue where I grew up Baseball. Not that I’m particularly interested in team sports, but the fi

Young Victoria Collaborative Book

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I wanted to put all these posts together from 2010 of a collaborative book that we put together: I posted in three parts: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 I handmade cuffs as a thank you to each of the participants: Sue's cuff Rita's cuff Pam's cuff Sandy's cuff Cristina's cuff

Where Bloggers Create: Evolution of an Art Studio

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I've participated in Where Bloggers Create which is a blog party that shows off various creative spaces. I wanted to put them all into one spot for future reference. If you want to see my past entries, you can click here: 2009 in its barest of bones (I didn't participate in the blog party, but wanted to show in 2010 how my room, which is a small third bedroom, had looked before.); 2010 which is like a complete reveal with an additional post on my homemade hanky curtains ; 2011 after an overhaul of the closet (the doors fell off); 2012 , where I decided to show some "for real" pictures. 2015 , ditto "for real" pictures 2016 , rearranging and substantial changes to the space, and a small update regarding the corner with the easel

Being Tested in Bella Grace

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I finally succumbed and picked up a copy of the Bella Grace magazine , because the photos and art looked so peaceful, so mori girl . A special way to treat myself away from the rush of the day. More than halfway through, I realized something: this magazine, this journal, was bringing grace, beauty and peace into the world. Sure, it occasionally got hung-up on pedicures as being something worth having, but it lingered on summer evenings and sunrises and cups of coffee (or tea). Pauses throughout the day. And then I realized that all these authors were bloggers, like me, living their ordinary lives, but unlike me, actually documenting it.  Yes, in a beautiful Instagram way that I could never match (nor do I want to), but I found myself comparing this blog to their writing, to what I proclaimed back in November : "I am going to be blogging about peace, love, light, joy and transformation, and my struggles to find the same. I figure by sharing struggles and learnin

Blogging Resuming...

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My posh "Call the Midwife" look :) I know, I know, I go through periods of posting and then ... crickets. My hope is that I'm about to embark on an extended period of posting. I'm watching CSPAN right now (after watching the House sit-in via my representative's Periscope!) ... and it feels like history (although I've learned that sit-ins have occurred twice before and the Senate filibuster earlier this week was, well, a bust as all the gun control bills were voted down) and while I wasn't intending my first post to get all political, it's what's happening and here we are. But I'm not coming back to write about that. There are things I want to write about and this summer, I hope to start the routine of writing again regularly. I will write about art, theology (of various sorts), and life in general. This has come about because Claudia of Mockingbird Hill Cottage made a remark in a recent post about how much she appreciated her webho

My art studio makeover

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I've participated in Where Bloggers Create a few times, but not the last few years. If you want to see those, you can click here: in  2009   in its barest of bones (I didn't participate in the blog party, but wanted to show in 2010 how my room, which is a small third bedroom, had looked before.); in  2010  which is like a complete reveal with an additional post on my  homemade hanky curtains ; in  2011  after an overhaul of the closet (the doors fell off); in  201 2, where I decided to show some "for real" pictures. and in 2015 , ditto "for real" pictures I've played with various arts and crafts over the years: jewelry making, psanky, painting bird houses, etc and so forth. And I've settled down to three: art journaling, icon writing, and I'm currently exploring painting large canvas.  I discovered that I didn't have enough space on my desk to art journal (the current one is on the large side) and write an icon. I could set asid

What I Learned in May

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1. I can still obsess over something.  Like, really obsess, lose all track of time forget to eat obsess. I spent the Memorial Day weekend emptying out most of my art room so I could reorganize the furniture to better do what I now want to do art-wise. The whole weekend, until I nearly dropped with exhaustion and then pushed through it. (I finally stopped Monday afternoon for a shower, movie and dinner out.) I still have some tweaking to do because I ran out of time, so the grand reveal will have to wait. 2. This icon of Mary (follow the link, I couldn't find a public domain image of it) is one of the oldest surviving icons from the 5th century (the 6th century saw iconoclasm and the destruction of icons). Its tradition is that this is the first icon Luke painted. This exact one. Although most date it to the 5th century, the nuns claim it has been carbon dated to 100 AD, give or take. I find her beautiful and haunting and she's going to be the next icon I write

Ever After ....

I don't blog much and even less about art or craft these days, but there is a new class coming out headed by Tamara Laporte called Ever After. I am in the midst of doing LifeBook 2016 and planning a complete reorg of my art space (as I can't move it into the larger guest room) but it's not the fairytale aspect of the course that appeals to me (although, you know, that can be fun and pretty), but being introduced to new artists, new ways of doing things, and in addition, there's a module on developing one's own style (which I'm pretty convinced comes with time and repetition). One of the artists teaching is Effy Wild , who successfully hooked me on gel pens last year. You can click on her name to enter the giveaway too!

God's Love Stories May edition

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Here's another round-up of thought-provoking stories, hopes, prayers, and discussion on current issues that are worth a read: Richard Rohr on Incarnation instead of Atonement Hope in Hollywood by Rev. Simon Mainwaring Kindness Matters by Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage A Prayer for the Hectic Times by emily freeman at chatting at the sky On Restrooms, Gender and Fear by Emily Heath at Glorify New Girl Director Recalls Making the Prince Episode at Vulture All The Things You Can No Longer Buy if You Are Boycotting Transfriendly Businesses at The Daily Beast New Christian Contemplatives at Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (KPBS) Hamilton South Jesus Church Connects Community by Helen Gregory at The Newcastle Herald A Prayer for a Hopeful Vision by emily freeman at chatting at the sky Rice Krispies: My Spiritual Awakening by Sarah Bessey "I didn’t need this weird demarcation between “sacred work” and “secular work” – rather all of my life, seen and uns

What I learned in April

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Here's what I learned in April. My plans are not God's plans. Okay, technically this fell on the first of May but as I do these so rarely, I figured you wouldn't hold that against me. I had it all planned out: a relaxing cup of tea before finishing packing and preparing my room for departure and then heading off to Eucharist (I was on retreat here). I am enjoying my cup when the Mission bells start, shortly followed by the monastery's bells. Hmm, I think, I wonder if Br. Timothy is checking the clapper again? No, it was the one day all week when Eucharist was at 9 instead of 11:30am because Sunday. So much for the lazy cup of tea and serene packing. Fr. Adam's sermon was all about going with God's flow of life instead of imposing our will upon God/life. Yes, God, I heard you the first time. A lack of fresh air and not sitting with nature leads to me feeling depressed and unworthy. It's amazing how 15 minutes sitting in the shade and enjoying a cool Sa

God's Love Stories -- Listening for God

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What's next? What's the right choice? Is this what I'm called to do? Is this all? If those are your questions, hopefully, the following links will be helpful. Prayer for a Hopeful Vision by Emily Freeman of chatting at the sky Rice Krispies: My Spiritual Awakening by Sarah Bessey Soul Breakfast , a guest post by Judith King at Abbey of the Arts (although who has time for all of this in the morning before work? But one deep breath, yes, one grateful thought, yes.) Meet the Incredible Woman Chosen to Lead Mother Emanuel's Church after last year's shooting  by Collier Meyerson at Fusion And on another matter (as Passover is coming up): Why Christians Should Not Host Passover Seders by Rebecca Cynamon Murphy at Religious Dispatches What interesting articles have you read lately? I still have a stack in my "Pocket" app so there may be more to come.

Listening with Love

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When wisdom or ritual occurs across traditions, I tend to pay attention.  Listening. It seems like a lost art. I think I've been less skilled in this recently. For example, I used to listen really really well. But my husband keeps talking about the Leicester City football team, so .... No, seriously, I was a good listener mainly because I was an excellent introvert. Not having to talk was great. But that also meant that the person doing all the talking never got a response out of me. Now, I'm a trained extrovert so I talk more. Recently, my church's bishop came to speak to us and one of the things I got out of it was that we need to start modeling dialogue, not these polarized opposites where we fling insults and sneers (and worse) at each other. That we need to come together and learn to listen to each other, really listen, reflect on what we have heard, and move forward together in a way that is life-honoring. There may be an agreement to disagree, but we a

Icon: Jesus Pantocrator

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This was the first time I had finished an icon on my own. I wanted to experiment with using Golden fluid acrylics as opposed to the recommended Jo Sonja paints as well as using a Claybord instead of a more traditional (and expensive) icon board. I started at the beginning of 2015, so I was very focused on using what I had and being able to write an icon. Which is why I used the blue tracing paper I had rather than getting proper carbon paper. The blue marks melted into the paint, so no worries there. The background went down gorgeously in many many layers. My first attempt at mixing the hair color turned out red and it was looking really streaky although is only two layers worth. I decided to fix that later. My concern with the Golden paints is that they are shiny. The parchment mix with the Titanium White shows just how shiny they can be. Would it stand out as super-shiny against the other not so shiny colors? Sankir, the shadow color down. I just love sankir