Saturday, September 25, 2010

That kind of person

The reign of God is something many people talk about and wonder about. Jesus says the kingdom of God is among you, is present, is now, and not just something in the by and by. I think that means we are to participate. His sermon on the mount gives a good picture of the upside down values of the kingdom. Counter to the ways of the world and full of paradoxes and curiosities. Still we may wonder how that plays out in our personal life.

I enjoy Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations which come to my inbox each day. They contain a snippet from his writings, which lately are adapted from Jesus' Plan for a New World. I really liked what Rohr says in this quote:
I hope you’ve met at least one Kingdom person in your life. They are surrendered and trustful people. You sense that their life is okay at the core. They have given control to Another and are at peace, which paradoxically allows them to calmly be in control. A Kingdom person lives for what matters, for life in its deepest and lasting sense. There’s a kind of gentle absolutism about their life-style, an inner freedom. Kingdom people feel like grounded yet spacious people at the same time, the best of conservative and the best of progressive at the same time.

Kingdom people are anchored by their awareness of God’s love deep within them and deep within everyone else too. They happily live on a level playing field, where even God has come to “pitch his tent” (the literal translation of John 1:14).

If we are living the Kingdom now. If we are kingdom people, then this sense that "life is okay at the core" seems like a good description. I want to be this kind of person. In those moments, days, or seasons when I'm not, I need to examine where I lost the inner freedom and grounding. I pray I can pay attention and make the necessary shifts.

This week I am visiting family and there is always the pull to go back to old ways of relating. I have had this phrase in my mind, and I'm recalling it and trying to practice it: "Be generous. Give what you can." To me it's a way to be a kingdom person today in this moment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Advent Reflection

For our Advent series: Thin Places.
The 4th week of Advent at The Refuge we created a reflection to view after our dinner. Was lovely with lights out and just candles and our Thin Places backdrop starlights on.

For nice pause in your day, here is the reflection. Takes 6 minutes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is art?

The folks at Creature Comforts have tackled a very challenging question. Hilarious. Made my day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Change of scenery

Twice in the last few days I've been able to be in or near the mountains. T. and I took a drive to see the aspen trees turning color. Our route was up through Coal Creek to Nederland and back down through Boulder. The higher the altitude, the prettier the leaf color. I hear next week might be the peak. Let me know if you get up there to view it. As always I am so energized by being in that beauty and majesty and so thankful for those moments. Yet, it is seldom that I actually plan or make time to do it. That needs to change!

Yesterday was even more gorgeous. I was in Niwot for brunch and sitting outside was totally pleasant (even for me--I don't like too hot or too cold!) The beautiful 45 min. drive north and west alone was worth it, but I got to spend a little time with friends, too. So 2 of my favorite things at once.

p.s. The close-up is of one of the "crazy" rock climbers in the photo of the rock face above it. They fascinate me and make me nervous. Thankfully my son never told me until after he went rock climbing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This is love -pt 3

For the past week my days have been full of tasks like priming and painting our house's exterior trim. The inside, still a mess from re-doing the kitchen cabinets, makes a claim for attention and the yard has needed care and extra watering. After being gone for 6 weeks I am re-connecting with friends and making a little progress on the to-do list. Web work is always a time zapper and that has cut a piece of the waking hours pie chart. But the thing that I have an excitement about is a new medium of creative expression for me--mosaic. I've been gathering tile, tools, glues, grout and am keeping my eye out for interesting objects. Last Saturday at half-price day at the thrift stores I had such fun finding china dishes in colors and styles that appealed to me. I have great anticipation of art pieces-to-be using my found treasure.

When I begin a new venture, think and dream about what might be and how to do it, I am working out something. There is a certain amount of steam to move forward, to confront the unknown or risk failure, but there is also an opposing force (fear, intimidation, memory of past discouragements and rejections...and so forth) that wants to keep me in check. It's important for me to be aware of what's happening and who I'm listening to so that I am working out of my own center and the "call of God" in that center.

Elizabeth O’Connor writes:
The act of creation is always a solitary one. Others can encourage us to create. They cannot create for us. The man of ten talents needs the same courage as the man of one....

When I become aware of my own gifts and give my attention to communicating what is in me—my own truth, as it were—I have the experience of growing toward wholeness.

Then she speaks of the role of the church (and her church community in particular, The Church of the Saviour, Washington, DC, who has picked up this call) and shows how vital this moving forward is:
The teaching-preaching ministry of the church is to help a person discover the gifts that he is to use in the creating of his life, in building the church of Jesus Christ, and then, finally, for his commissioning in the world so that he can be “the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12)….
from the book Eighth Day of Creation—Gifts and Creativity

I love the healing power depicted in that commissioning. When someone encourages me to use my gifts, take a risk, give it a try, go for it--she and I are both part of a larger picture of purpose. She or he is exercising an opportunity to love me by coming alongside me at a point of uncertainty and inertia. I can see a direct correlation between his loving and speaking, and my (or your) taking something from imagination to visibility. I am not just referring to art, but to any form of expression springing forth from our unique personal gifting.

Several times this week I received direct encouragement to keep plowing ahead, keep creating, keep being true to who I am. That felt like love.

This week I want to be watching and listening for opportunities to love in this way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is love - pt. 2

bowl of figsthe neighbor's figs

A container of just-picked perfect figs, a bag of ripe red tomatoes from the garden, a bunch of yellow squash with crooked necks, a melon from the farm stand. Gifts of food, fruits of labor, and labors of love show up at the door in the hands of neighbors, with a smile, a nod--not much more. Kindnesses to an 81 year-old woman. Nothing expected in return. Just the joy of giving and the joy of receiving have passed in the exchange.

Probably none of the providers will read this little post, but I say, "Thank you." I am grateful that you thought of my mother and cared for her in this way. To me it feels like love.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is love

This is what love looks like to me. A friend shows up ready to do battle with my crazy kitchen clutter. She hauls everything out of the cabinets, consolidates the half boxes of crackers, puts the tea and coffee supplies all in the same place (brilliant!), tosses out some very expired products, cleans and organizes every space, making sense and order out of the hodgepodge of containers, spices, and you name it. For some reason this kind of task makes my stomach queasy. I become disoriented. I want to run. As I sneak out of the kitchen I hear her say, "I could do this all day!" When we later find evidence of a mice invasion she doesn't go AWOL, but calmly continues to work, as the battle escalates into a vacuum and bleach war. At this point I am completely creeped out and need a break. She's fine, and sends me into the other room to do some computer work. When a stopping point is reached we share take-out Chinese food and watch a movie.

The next day she comes back ready to plug away, overcome more obstacles and get the job done, even to the point of single-handedly pulling the fridge out and cleaning behind it. What started out as organizing has ballooned into several larger projects. Turns out the bottom of the sink cabinet needs to be replaced and we can't put all the cleaning supplies back there. I need to buy some steel wool and lidded plastic bins and find out what to do about the cabinet floor. It's becoming a little overwhelming. For now, I go outside to plant my new agapanthus, grateful for a distraction from the kitchen, grateful to get my hands into the soil, grateful to see beauty. My friend is continuing to problem-solve how to reuse plastic and glass containers we've cleared out to house other things that were stashed in unlabeled plastic bags. She's enjoying the conquest over clutter and waste. This isn't the end of the story--only a slice. Just an example of what it looks and feels like to be loved when things ain't pretty. Having emotional and physical help in an area of need where most people wouldn't bother to take time for caused me to be very grateful. And wishing it for everyone.

Since then my husband has rebuilt the bottom of the sink cabinet and I have painted it. Soon the supplies go back under out of sight. Next in the long list of home projects is painting the exterior of the cabinets. Then comes the loft...oh my gosh, the loft. My friend is planning to come back over to go through all the books, art supplies, papers, and junk to help transform it into a place where I can work again. We will be boxing up piles of stuff to be able to see the floor and strategizing how to carve space for me to set up my easel again.

In our friendship we worked out a trade. It doesn't always have to be a trade. Sometimes you can help or be helped (i.e. loved) without a return. This time I spent a couple of days at her house redecorating and offering suggestions and ideas for further changes. We moved furniture around, hung pictures, and created nice spaces for work and conversation. She hasn't loved her house in years and when we were done she felt happy, excited, and grateful for her "new" house done on zero budget. We have more ideas to create a headboard and window treatments when I go back over. It was a pleasure for me to use my gifts in an area where she clearly felt a need. I enjoyed using my interior design skills to solve problems just as she enjoyed using her organizational skills to solve problems at my house.

It seems like a simple thing, but how often does it happen that we go beyond having a need or knowing about a need? What would love look like if it stepped in?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Souled out

branch obscuring sunset
I've been on a "soul sabbatical" down south for 2 and a half months. Having set aside time to reconnect with myself and God, hoping to recharge, refresh and get new direction, I will return to CO to in a week to rest from my "time of restoration!" This season has turned out to be anything but what I expected--with non-stop stress, unexpected activity and lack of alone time. Kind of like when I had 3 young children and my days were not exactly my own. It's the reverse end of the spectrum being with my elderly mom, where wisdom is needed to make many decisions and do lots of projects requiring physical and emotional energy. This week we are going through things to decide what to sell, what to keep, what to toss. Each item, no matter how small seems to have sentimental value and memories, so the job feels way bigger than just sorting and cleaning.

Hope to get back to Torchwood when I return. Sorry for the absence. If you email me I can share a link to another site related to my time away.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Not for Sale, the campaign to end slavery in our lifetime, launches Free2Work, a community of people and businesses committed to ending slavery in corporate supply chains. At Free2Work you can help ensure that companies you support are not taking part in slave labor. Look up a company or report a company and become an instigator of change.
It's time for every company to take The Pledge...
• To have zero tolerance for forced labor inside our company operation
• To develop an anti-slavery corporate policy
• To require all outsource suppliers and contractors to hold the same anti-slavery protocol
• To ensure that the providers of source materials for our products comply with our anti-slavery protocols.
• To monitor our company's compliance with all of the above, and responsibly address any violations.

See an amazing music video by RadioHead which contrasts two different lives: that of a free child (whose lifestyle looks a lot like most of "our" kids) and a slave labor child (whose life is perhaps spent producing some familiar products for the free child?) One boy paints a picture, the other paints glue onto a shoe liner.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Post Oscar

We usually try to catch the Academy Awards, but for the first time we watched the Oscars with a room full of people who had voted online ahead of time. Made it more fun, which was good, because I found the whole TV production to be somewhat lackluster otherwise (though there was plenty of glitz and glamour there!) Tom came home the winner of the mini Oscar and a gift card for the movies. Hope he will share it with me. My favorite part of the show was probably the performance of the music from Slum Dog Millionaire. Now I really want to see the movie. I think I have only seen two of the other movies in the running, so my votes were mostly guesses. Slum Dog, Sean Penn, and Heath Ledger were obvious gimmes.

Congratulations to Meryl Streep for a record 15 nominations. I hope she appreciated all the accolades from her peers, too. I want to see Doubt and I'm thinking about seeing some of her older movies again. I think Kate Winslet is a seriously good actress and deserves the recognition of this win. (photo:AP) Don't know if I'll see The Reader, though. I'm happy for the Slum Dog crew. It's an amazing accomplishment for them (8 Oscars! !Is that right?)

I definitely want to work my way through some of the short films and animations that sound very interesting. If you've seen some, what do you recommend?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Voca Femina goes live!

It's launched! I want to share with you a creative endeavor that I am a part of.
voca femina banner by Jennifer HerrickVoca Femina Banner by Jennifer Herrick
What is Voca Femina?
Voca femina means a woman’s voice. The feminine voice is powerful, creative, life-giving, and beautiful. We’re here to celebrate it. We’re a group of friends providing space, audience, and support for the creative voices of women in our world. We've started a creative expressions website for women.
Our vision:
We believe there can never be too many venues for women to try out their voices. We know lots of powerful, creative women who have beautiful things to say, who may never land a book contract, fill an art gallery, or cut a record deal. Voca Femina is about giving us all a place to share, a place to grow. We hope you will listen, respond, encourage, and, most of all, participate.
Our dream:
Voca Femina is a sisterhood of women who fiercely believe in the treasure of creative expression. Creativity belongs to the soul and spirit of every human being, needing a few simple conditions in order to thrive:
  • A safe space, free from competition and negativity
  • An abundance of support and encouragement
  • A few stimulating ideas
  • Faith, hope, courage, and love
We aim to create an online community that fosters the creative spirit in and through and for each other, by stimulating, supporting, and posting our treasures. Eventually we hope to publish our works under the banner of Voca Femina, creating print media that reflect the innovation and creative expression fostered through this site.

Check it out and let us know what you think.
I have a couple of pieces on display in the fine art and design sections of this inaugural issue.

If you are in the Denver area you can party with us and celebrate women's voices. E-mail me for info.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Amber day

Colorado has a singular quality of afternoon light that I marvel at. Houses, roofs, trees, and every man-made object and natural living thing become transformed in its glow. Yesterday I really noticed it and jotted down these thoughts:

dried rosesThere was a glorious golden light today on everything outside my reading window in the guest room where I work on my laptop. Unaware of that part of the world until I really focused, my breath was taken away by the dried and browned beauty of the tea roses still standing with their twisted and curled leaves paperlike and moving in the wind. If I leaned in closely near the glass, I could hear birds chirping incessantly as well as the scattered barking of neighborhood dogs and a car engine a few blocks away. I like to sit in this sunny spot to read and am happy to observe the world from here without going out to be chilled by the wind and distracted by the reality of what needs to be done to button up the garden for winter. Winter has been here for quite a while. Only a portion of chores was accomplished before that window of preparatory time passed. It almost feels like winter, too, is passing, though the crabapples are dull red on the bare branches, and several kinds of thyme between the pavers are still shades of gray. The perennial herbs will be the first to green up as the weather warms slightly. But not today. Today lies under an amber veil and individual colors remain desaturated like those in an altered photo. The life inside is suppressed, held back and waiting. I took occasional sunny reading breaks from my web tutorials in the morning, but by afternoon my reading book took over. I felt and watched the subtle path of warm light gradually move across my shoulders to finally form a spotlight on the large aloe plant in the corner. That mother's voice inside my head might tell me I've wasted my afternoon. My soul thinks otherwise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This is too fun not to share. Paste Magazine has a site where you can make your own Obamacon. I used my Torchwood profile pic to try it. Whattayathink?

Saturday, January 03, 2009


I love books, but it always seems true "so many books, so little time." During Advent I did take time to re-read Beginnings and Endings by Maggi Dawn. This is truly a book that I could visit every year. I find so much to consider in the beginnings, endings, now and not yets, and in-betweens that she gives us a glimpse into.

I was excited to learn of a new book this year, God With Us, which includes a few of my favorite authors' reflections on Advent. (After listening to an interview with Kathleen Norris I decided to order the book.) It also includes beautiful paintings from all ages making it a feast on several levels. But, what I keep thinking about is found in the section by Luci Shaw. She writes:
Henri Nouwen made the important distinction between productivity and fruitfulness. Productivity suggests a machine grinding out a commercial product. By contrast fruitfulness gives us the organic image of a tree, rooted in rich soil, tempered by weather and seasons, by cold and wind and sun, able to give shade, to bud and flower, and to bear fruit.

She goes on to talk about a slogan found on a refrigerator magnet that says, "live generatively". To her this means:
Be a risk-taker, a "universe-disturber for good". To move in a life-giving direction, not only for one's own sake but for that of others. To contribute to the energy of the world.

Each year I receive a word for the new year. This year I think it is "fruitfulness." I like the distinction between just producing (a product), and instead being fruitful, which speaks to me of relationships and quality of life. I also desire to be productive, especially with my art, but for now focusing on "fruitful" seems to have more life in it.

Join me in a prayer (by Luci Shaw from God With Us)
Oh my Lord, I long to be fruitful, to know myself growing in likeness to you. Often I feel sterile, not fertile. I need your living water, the sun of your blessing, the wind of your Spirit, the grace of your presence. I yearn to recognize your likeness in my mirror, a reflection that will come only from the daily awareness of "God with me."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

postscript for 2008

Wow, 2008 has run out and time online has been almost nil except for my regular website work. I've had out-of-town family here for a couple of weeks and didn't get back to my 'I heart Advent' reflections. Just noticed an important topic over at Kathy's blog on encouraging creativity. That is one of my major soapboxes. I'm glad to see the conversation. Haven't had a chance to join in. Check it out.

I hope everyone has a new year full of hope. I'll be back with a post soon.