Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things that make me thankful

I returned home from my Thanksgiving trip late last night. My trip was enjoyable, but felt a bit rushed, three homes in 6 days with over 30 hours of that spent in transit was a bit much. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my family very much.

Now before November is over here is my thankfulness list.

impulse buys
new friends
old friends
long car rides
audio books
airport taxis in the form of good friends
cool autumn days
learning to breath
all things vintage
genuine compliments
all things shiny
crafting headbands
all forms of cameras
(mostly film)
the elliptical
photo booths
red lipstick
huge leaves lining the side walk
my nieces and nephews
my family
screen prints
paint on my finger tips
planning parties
my job
my apartment
my city

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This week in over view:
Monday - community group
Tuesday- NDV community dinner
Wednesday- travel all day, snack at Dallas Love Field with grandparents
Thursday - be thankful with my parents, sisters, their hubbies, and 4 of the most wonderful children on the planet
Friday - I might shop (I don't love this idea but it seems like it will show love to my sisters)
Saturday- driving and older sister time
Sunday- parents house
Monday - fly back to SF

needless to say there will be no blogging, or at least no commitment to a daily blog

Sunday, November 21, 2010

“We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice, or kindness in general. Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique.”
~Benjamin Jowet~

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Evening Post

It is raining and wonderful. It will be a taxi kind of night heading to a fabulous birthday party than out dancing!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Feature

This is Jaklyn. I have already stated multiple times that I have an artist crush on this lady. Over the past few months she has become a close and inspiring friend. We are part of a small community group together and I have been blessed by her leadership. She has helped me see that I have the courage and the resources to start new, reminded me that it isn't weak to admit when the emotions are too strong, and today she is someone that celebrates new joys with me.

She answered some of the same Friday Feature questions as my other artist friends and I think you will enjoy her answers.
1. Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by courageous people. Courageous people who are also artists are not only fascinating but in my mind also make an incredible impact on the world. Mexican painter Frida Coelho comes to mind as a fearless and uninhibited woman whose artistic expression inspires me towards honesty in all I make. Sister Corita Kent was another courageous woman whose serigraphs are not only rich to me aesthetically (love her use of color!) but also combine her faith which informed her advocacy towards radical social justice. Another rad female artist who is alive (yay!) and creating out of Oakland is Favianna Rodriguez. Her drawings and screenprints are my favorite and often involve themes of social justice for immigrants and refugees.
I'm also inspired by my friends- people who love others relentlessly, who face their own fears, who are honest with themselves, who show up for life ready to give.

2. What is your favorite thing to create?
As far as getting my hands into things... screenprinting: few things are more satisfying than pulling ink through the screen and seeing what happens on the paper. Of course, you're supposed to know what's going to happen, but then there's that random smudge or the opacity that didn't turn out as expected which is sometimes fun and sometimes not. The anticipation that the process builds keeps it exciting for me. Screenprinting, especially in your bedroom, is a very involved process with a lot of variables. It's messy and there's a lot of room for error. Which is why, when you finally get to part where you actually get to print, it feels so good. I like to start a painting with a general sketch and visual concept but always leave a lot of room for changes. Some artists are very technical. I am not. Screenprinting and painting and photography can all be technical and I admire those who operate on that level but for me it is mostly intuitive and tactile and expressive. I'm a feeler and honesty is important to me so I bring that into my creative process and pay a lot of attention to what I need and want to communicate.

3. How did you get into textile art?
My creative journey began as many do with crayons and paper and paint as a child. I just did a lot of it. I kept doing a lot of it through middle and high school and by the time I started taking chemistry and trigonometry I knew I wasn't cut out for anything involving equations. I got through with good grades but didn't honestly give any genuine effort for anything other than art. It's a safe place for me to be who I am and I love that it allows others to do the same. I went to the College of Design at North Carolina State University studying studio art and design after being turned down twice. Welcome to competition and exclusivity! But there I worked with amazing classmates who I admire immensely and grew and grew and there I was introduced to screenprinting and another favorite, textile art. I tend to bounce around combining methods and materials and I'm thankful that in my training I wasn't limited to one but introduced to many techniques and disciplines.

4. If you could wake up anywhere in the world where would it be?
If I could wake up anywhere I would wake up to the sound of roosters crowing, children crying, and mosquitoes buzzing in Adjumani, northern Uganda.

5. What excites you about life?
People, adventures, love, explorations, taking risks, trusting a loving God.

When I asked her to provide an image of some art she loves she shared the piece below. It takes my breath away and I had to know it's story so clearly I asked.

This one is part of a series of three called "The Fierce Urgency of Now". The first two in the series I created before living in northern Uganda for a year and involve themes of war, child soldiers, darkness v. light, intrusion and the perseverance of joy and hope in the midst of that. I started this third painting in the series before leaving but was having a hard time finishing it when I decided to wait until my return and sort of culminate the series with my reflections from the year. I'm really glad I waited. The first two reflect very real themes but my only influence for those two were the media, books and films that I was immersed in as I attempted to understand the conflict in northern Uganda and how it was affecting the lives of people there. The third painting reflects a calmer, more grounded perspective. Still there are themes of light and dark, but I was creating from a much less chaotic frame of mind and focusing more on hopes of restoration, life and beauty flourishing on a backdrop of darkness. The sun rising behind the tukuls is an image that remains in my mind from the many mornings waking up in La Jopi village. It reminds me that no matter how difficult the day before was or how hard it was to sleep that night, the sun rises in the morning bringing new life, fresh perspective and the hope of a new day ahead.
Check her out here:

By the way: the piece above is for sale, as is the first piece in the series.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This amazing woman is coming to San Francisco for the weekend and I am thrilled!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Looking around at my life in the past few days and weeks and even months I am aware that I am surrounded by people who love me and bring joy to my heart. I googled images of joy and found this. I like it. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Go and find Jesus when your patience and strength give out and you feel alone and helpless. He is waiting for you in the chapel. Say to him, 'Jesus, you know exactly what is going on. You are all I have, and you know all. Come to my help.'" Sr. Jeanne Jugan, Founder of the Little Sister of the Poor (1972-1879)

Today has already been a beautiful day and I am feeling refreshed and happy. Nonetheless, I love this quote. It is a great way to live.

Monday, November 15, 2010


For years I have loved the passage in Job 38 when God shows and up says "who are you to question me, and where where you when I..."

I have loved it because God showed up and spoke. God didn't ignore Job's anger and questioning. God showed up and responded.

Ever since posting last night's post I have felt God saying "I am here, and I have been with you all the while."

"I am in the loving texts and phone calls from friends. I am in the mistakes I have protected you from. I am in the faces of children listening to Bible stories. I am the songs you sing at the top of your lungs, and the songs you sand in silence for. I am on the hills you run and the Bible you keep sitting, often unopened, beside your bed. I am in the fiction you read. I am in all the things that bring you joy and all the ways you have courage to face your pain. I am in the water you drink restoring your tired body. I didn't go anywhere and I am not planning to. I am here, in whispers."

This truth woke me up this morning before my alarm went off and while I was still begging to sleep warm in my bed. I have not been forgotten or abandoned. God is here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Prayer and confession

I got to chat about church and theology (loosely) tonight. It has been awhile and it felt good. I have decided I love the church staff at City Church. I caught myself a few times with snide remarks that were a bit too harsh and cutting towards other believers in the city and in the U.S. I confess I hope that I am not judged as I have judged. The standards I have set are too high and often unfair. Still, the staff seemed supportive and interested in my thoughts and I enjoyed their company.

Still, today was another day that my relationship with God hit me like a brick wall. I participated in the Eucharist without an issue, I sang most of the words of most of the songs at church, I told the story of Elijah with authentic joy, but when I went back to church this evening for a leaders meeting and was asked to split into small groups to pray I slipped off to the ladies room. I couldn't authentically participate. I could have prayed with close friends, but I couldn't pray with strangers or church members I don't know yet.

My time in the ladies room was wonderful. I ran into a friend and got caught up on exciting news. Later we walked together and she affirmed that she thinks God is doing something in me that I don't understand. That felt good to hear, until I heard some of my own bitter words sneak past my lips and I wonder if I am really moving towards greater love.

This morning I told the story of God coming to Elijah in a whisper. I was struck by the fact that God went to where Elijah was hiding and spoke to him, provided for him and eventually revealed Him/herself to him. God could handle Elijah's fear, anger and accusations. God could deal with the fact that even after all the great works God had done Elijah was running and hiding scared.

So tonight's prayer might be a bit on the accusatory side, but it is also a confession. I plan to balance it out with other people's prayers, because to be honest I believe God can handle my frustration, but I am not sure I can.

cynicism sneaks out of well crafted phrases
snide remarks and haughty gazes
I am exposed
bitter and jaded
all pretense has faded
as I confess
this is my unrest
crying out for care
you are not there
not in the steeple
not in the pews
not in the churches I am accustomed to
I have not found you
you have been untrue
your faithfulness once brought tears to my eyes
now songs of love feel like lies
hope feels like despair
looking for you to hold me
you are not there

With all of this going on in my soul and mind; I am asking God: Be here.

Other People's Prayers

~Mother Theresa~

Deliver me, O Jesus,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire to being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.

Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,
That our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us,
That every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!
Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine;
So to shine as to be a light to others.
The light O Jesus will be all from You, none of it will be ours;
It will be You, shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise You without preaching, not by words but by our example,
By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do,
The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen.

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy
Guide me then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread and through our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recycled Child Project and Dinners

Meet RCP Participant - "Oi" from Recycled Child Project. on Vimeo.

Tonight's dinner was in honor of the Recycled Child Project and it was amazing. We raised a modest $190, and I hope we inspired people to give in the future. Please watch the video above and donate.

I will confess going into the evening I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged. Monthly Dinners are a project I began in my previous faith community with a dear friend. I have since left the community and my friendship with this amazing woman has been affected by a challenging year. She has chosen to focus her energy in other areas and I went into tonight feeling like the one year anniversary of the project might also be it's end.

It is not. At one point one of the guests asked what my vision was. I told her this was started as a simple way for people who can't be philanthropist to invite people to give. In an ideal world the project will grow. Dinners will happen all over the city with 3-4 homes hosting dinners for the same organization all on the same night so that 40-50 people are involved and more money and awareness can be raised. I also said, honestly now that my partner in this has decided that she wants to do other things this might be our last dinner.

I can't do this alone and I will not do this alone. I want a consistent partner in this, and as these words were spoken I was given a new partner. The dinners will continue. I am excited.

I am excited because not everyone can give hundreds of dollars to support non-profits. I know I can't. But most of us can spend $20 on dinner. $20 = 2 meals for 15 young boys in Thailand through the recycled child project. To be honest I would host dinner parties either way. This way I get to know that what I am doing impacts young men who are being sold.

My dearest Scott, Ning and Sophia, I am excited to start this adventure with you!We are going to host some amazing dinners!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Feature

Meet Amy Foote. She is kind of amazing. Her energy fills the room and her voice will move your soul. She is part of an ensemble that tours and records. She is working on her own site and teaches voice in San Francisco.

Her passion in every area of her life inspires me. She is one of the most fully present and honest people I know. I am grateful to call her a friend!

I asked her a few fun questions. Enjoy!

Who inspires you?
Sometimes I have the privilege of witnessing someone perform completely unadorned of ego, the desire to impress, or with selfish intentions. Some people perform because they have a deep desire to connect with other humans on a level that even Kant couldn't really wrap his mind around. A few people I admire have made a meaningful connection with their audiences by connecting art with politics (hans verner henze), through communicating with 200 year old operatic stories (patricia racette), and sometimes through being 8 years old and singing a cover of David Bowie (seriously though...I teach a lot of kids...and they can perform like the best of them!).

What is your favorite thing to create?
I love to create (or perform) music that makes people think about something they haven't considered before (avante guard/ chamber music). I also love to write and perform folk songs with my autoharp because simplicity is comforting...and it makes my mom smile. :)

How did you get into singing?
I've been singing since I was able to romp around the house pretending to be the Little Mermaid. It's been quite an adventure from that, to singing in church, going to undergraduate school, and finally ending up in graduate school where I finally got my shit together and realized that I don't want singing to be just for fun...want I want it to be my job. I started taking singing a lot more seriously once I got to the graduate level and realized that not only is the classical world extremely competitive, but it also can be extremely powerful if performed well. I'd like to be a person that is known for communicating well. :)

If you could be anywhere in the world when you wake up in the morning, where would you be?
Paris...preferably somewhere close to IRCAM. However....now that they've banned burkas and are kicking out all those gypsies, I just don't know anymore!!!

What excites you about life?
Meeting new people that have a completely different background than me (whether they're rich, homeless, foreign, or from the south [ha!]), yet noticing that we have an awful lot in common. I also get really excited about the MOMA, dancing, learning new songs, doing handstands, and being near squirrels.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace." ~Brennan Manning~

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Most Personal

Hitting publish can be one of the scariest things I do a day. At times it is easy, at times I am posting lists of songs. pictures of things I like, or ordinary updates on my life. Those times it is easy, almost embarrassingly unnecessary, except that for over 6 months I have posted nearly daily, even if quantity does not prove to improve quality. I do it so that maybe someday I will develop the discipline to write, so that the countless number of drafted posts that are actually good might someday see the light of day and I will pass on yet another post of boats. (You know you love the boats, come on admit it, they are awesome!)

Nonetheless despite the fear it seems that the times I say the most honest stuff I get the most responses and I realize why I write. It is for the connection. The moment that someone calls, texts, facebooks or comments and says "that was real, thank you."

It is amazing to feel the love when I admit I am doubting and friends respond in love and support. It is reassuring to have friends say they get it. It means something when friends tell me they have the same blog post drafted, but they are not ready to post it. I feel like it lets us be in this together.

I used to feel like facebook and blogs and all other forms of online social networking were creating false communities. I will admit that I have friends that live in my city that I talk to more on facebook than in person and that might be bad, but it might be good. I would be sad if I never got to hear how they were doing and if their blog didn't let me know how I could be thinking of them, praying for them as they dealing with life. I also feel like this networking thing is growing my community to a much broader scope than I ever imagines it would. I have stumbled onto blogs of a women that lives around the world from me, read her stories and felt more human, because I could relate to what they was saying. Their pain and joy and their admittance of it has helped me be honest about my own and even though I don't know them I am grateful.

I am a fan of honest space. Even if the most honest thing I can say is that I love bird cages and pirate ships, but even better if the most honest thing I can say is I laughed today, held a beautiful baby, ate dinner with lovely friends, and grieved the changes I didn't want to make.

Henri Nauwen is often quoted for saying "what is most personal is most universal." I feel like those are some of the most encouraging words I have ever read, and I am grateful to all the people that help me experience their truth.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something pretty for your Tuesday morning

Generally I post pictures of flowers that I have taken. As my phone was stolen and I use my phone as my camera I have been too distracted to take any good flower pics in the past few weeks. I will get back to this soon.

But as a practice of embracing beauty I often roam the internet looking at beautiful blogs by floral designers (I kind of secretly wish I was a designer, or maybe it isn't a secret? oh, well I think if I wasn't working in social services I would wish I was, so I am happy. That is another post all together.) So since I am not posting my own picture feel free to roam these.


It is rumored that it is a proven fact the flowers make you less anxious and generally happier. I think I might pick some up on my way home tonight.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Sitting together singing praise songs I had to face it. The doubt. The feeling that just maybe I really don't believe these words. I can recite the Apostles Creed. The Lord's Prayer is fine with me. I can take the Eucharist without doubt. I read Psalms of Lament and sorrow. To be honest the stories of my faith often intrigue me in a cultural sense more than a spiritual one, but the reality of God in human flesh showing us how to be human inspires me. Yet, somehow when I attempt to sing of God's love forever the words choke me and I sit in silence, tears blurring my mascara and making my foundation smudge.

I am not sure what is happening. I have not lost all hope, but on most days I can't see past today. Today, I enjoyed coffee on my friends couch and told the truth. Today, I taught Sunday school, took an afternoon nap, drank good wine at the harvest festival, and met with Christians to sing songs and pray, and up until the last activity of the day I was doing well. Today I was happy. Today was a normal day, parts of it were almost mundane, but it was good.

Than somehow when invited to sing and pray I fell silent in my doubt. Am I ever going to have the role in the church that I felt God calling me to years ago? Am I ever going to be truly loved? Will it ever be any different than this? Will these wounds ever heal? How long till I can't do this anymore? Is God even listening? Does God even care? Does God see my faithfulness and my longing? Would it be better if I just quit now? Do I still believe that God loves me?

I thought of Hannah at one point. She begged God for a son and she was given one; but God has not answered my pleas and I have been begging for years.

For years I begged the church to be a safe place for other people who doubted. Now I am begging her to be a safe place for me. I am an ordained minister, that does not work for a church. I teach Sunday School. It is my greatest desire to walk with people as they seek after God and become the people they were created to be. But somehow tonight brought me to tears as I faced the reality that there are very few words I can sing right now and very few words I can pray.

I sometimes fear I am going through the motions of being a Christian. Hoping if I fake it long enough it will work itself out and I will be the Christian I once was. I will find joy in Christ again. Nonetheless, it seems these days I am more likely to find God in a piece of art and standing on the shore of the ocean. I don't go to church out of compulsion. I have experimented with not going to church once before and to be honest Sunday mornings feel safer than living room prayer gatherings. I can blend there, sneak in the back, listen, smile, and have a polite encounter with God, and that is about all I can handle right now.

I guess what I am saying is this is harder than I want it to be, but I am not done yet.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Evening Post

I didn't do nearly the amount of cleaning I had planned this weekend. (I never do.) However, I had some really lovely chats with some really lovely women, about figuring out who I am and how I feel about the way things have turned and are turning out.

It is amazing to be single in a city where I can go out anytime I want and have about a billion options; however, moderation is a wonderful thing. Learning that I don't need to do everything I can do, that I am often more fulfilled my an evening in and a fabulous project completed is huge. I think I am going to make it a goal over the next few weeks to make more dirty dishes at home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly … Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and [the Lord] will say, Here I am."

- Isaiah 58:7-9

Monday, November 1, 2010

Music Monday*

It's Monday and alteration is fun, but really here are thoughts on the end of the day.

The day had been overwhelming and a bit too long. Entering to room echoing from the chaos outside she filled the apartment as she scooped a bowl of homemade chili and poured a mug of wine. It was nearly 8 p.m. she was late and this was the first night of the new community group.

After 2 and half years she was no longer a vowed member of a faith community. She was, however, a committed member of this little gathering.

She had taken the summer to heal and listen to God. Unexpectedly her summer break became permanent. The plan was to go back in August, but it was November now. Over the past few months she found herself in a community that was in the prayer process. With some hesitation she had joined in the process. That process was beautiful and painful. Just last week she shed tears of exhaustion and grief, but still knew that this was real community. The community had spent months listening to each other and refusing to move forward if it meant leaving community members behind. It was powerful.

Tonight after the challenging decision to become two groups the two groups met separately. Nine of people sat in a living room. They read a scripture together and it was suggested that as this new group move forward stories should be told. Tonight's story: what brought you to San Francisco?

Everyone shared.

At one point Jaclyn stated that hearing the stories of fellow Christians is like hearing the gospel over again. These are the narratives of God moving and it can be heard with every person that recounted the events that brought them here.

I left feeling refreshed. I am starting over. I am moving forward. I am rewriting and retelling my story. I am letting go of so much more than a heart break, and less so much less than my faith. I am redefining my life knowing that there are moments in this story that changed everything, but these moments are not the story, they are sentences, paragraphs and maybe chapters of a narrative only just begun.

*The song and the post might not have anything in common, but than again they might.

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