Thursday, August 10, 2017

Boiling Water

This year I learned to make nature prints. A nature print is a unique and unexpected way to imprint a botanical impression onto paper.

Here is one of my favorites. 
I love the darkness juxtaposed with the leaves. It looks almost photographic. Although I am new at this, the unusual process really does the work of reproducing the beauty.

Can you guess how this paper took on this impression?
What do you think?

This print started with a piece of carefully chosen paper-
paper that the artist knows will hold the natural dye coming from the leaves,   
paper that will record and hold the image accurately and                      
paper that has the strength to survive the process.

Leaf wrap 
Placing the leaves on the selected paper, I sandwich them with another piece of quality paper. Then beginning at one end of the sandwich, I roll it up around a copper tube, as tightly as I can so the leaves cannot slip out and their surface is in close contact with the paper. If the leaves somehow slip out, that paper area will not take on an impression.

The leaves were chosen for their color, texture and form. I want to see the diversity of nature. Each completed piece will be unique. Even if I tried, it would be impossible to make two exactly alike. The botanical matter touches each side differently Even if I use two of the exact same types of paper to make the sandwich, each piece will end up with a distinct design. (See proof below.)

Once the paper is rolled tightly,  I take strong twine and wrap it like a mummy, around and around and around. The ends are knotted tightly in several places.

Now we subject the paper to something we might think would destroy it.
Boiling water

Depending on the thickness of the paper, we submerge this pack of leaves tightly wrapped, from 20 minutes to over an hour.   

When the boiling is finished, out comes the package. Since it was boiled with other packages, it has taken on the color that was released during boiling, turning quite dark. Once out, these packages must cool before handling them. Because of the outward appearance, it's difficult to believe there could be breathtaking beauty under there.

But this is not the end of the process. The pattern, color and textures are set, but until you cut the ropes and expose them to the light, they remain hidden.  When I loosen the cords and peel off the leaves, I can see the images have permeated the paper
Unwrapping 
Again, sometimes it's almost photographic.  Aren’t these stunning?

These two papers were partners in sandwiching.
How do WE take on the impression of things beautiful. Can you guess?

Sometimes God uses things we might think would destroy us to leave an impression.  God is creative, you know. As Lois Lindley used to say, "When God acts, he acts in view of the whole of his character."  Goodness, mercy, kindness, love, compassion, patience, long-suffering, etc. Some of the reassuring points of his character:

   He tells us that he has chosen us-, you, me -intentionally and by name. Romans 8:29
   He knows our strengths and weaknesses and will provide a way of escape in testing.  1 Cor. 10:13
   He has given us the example of his son and placed his spirit within us:, he intimately associates with us to leave the impression of his character. Heb. 12:2 and 2 Tim 1:14
Could it be almost photographic?

The process (a method of sanctification) may seem as destructive as dropping bound packages of paper into boiling water.
Destructive, unproductive and certainly not beautifying.
But the greatest Artist knows what will result - first character within and then, once unwrapped, beauty that can be observed.

Impressing images into our souls is a process, a way, a road. God has intentions for everything that comes into our lives. Boiling can be painful, arduous to the soul. Think of Jesus in Gethsemane. The ropes are confining, claustrophobic, overwhelming at times. Think of Jesus on the cross.
Joni EarecksonTada said, "God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves."

Mercifully, not everybody will have dramatic drastic boiling. Sometimes the artist boils, sometimes he uses paint and brushes, a potter’s wheel or pastels. There are people who live quiet (though not sinless) lives of integrity who are transformed by their attentiveness to God’s spirit. God's creativity in his creation allows him to diversify his methods in each of our lives.


Yet if we are his children, his goal, his masterpiece is conforming us to the image of his son because he knows THAT is consummate beauty.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

God's Resolute Presence





   Yesterday,  I experienced the resolute presence of God's spirit amidst 10 lovely women.

   My friend Sergio Perez was overcome by the effects of glioblastoma  at 4:25 am on Saturday March 18th.  He left as one that was well loved by his family and many many 4th grade students.  Little voices, hands and souls whom he invested in and nurtured in a manly way. His way was gentle but firm and assuring. He was interested in people -perhaps because he knew that each one of them was of great value in the Kingdom of God. He had an unusual gift of remembering names and even decades later could recall them when meeting his former students on the street.

   I only got to know him better in the last year, more his family really, but his imprint upon them was indelible. Their beloved Sergio struggled against this insidious disease for 6 months before it took him. During that time the amount of cards and support monies that came in was staggering. His family covered the living room walls with well wishes from people who loved him.  I have had the privilege of watching the hands and feet of Jesus show themselves from the community through not only astonishing donations, but also through meals, phone calls, cookies, dates with the girls, gardening, plumbing, electrical work, etc. I am left happily stunned.  God has supported this family in a unusual way, with grace-filled miracles sprinkled generously.

   Barbara Haney had a great fund-raising idea to sell note cards with the girls artwork- some imaginative and colorful pieces. Because Sergio hadn't been able to eat since the first of the week, I felt urgency to get on this and so ordered 800 cards at the Biola Print shop, and sent out a call to fb friends for help. Six women responded to my call and gathered in quilting bee form to put packs of cards together. I picked up the cards on Friday and bought envelopes at Kelly paper. (Who gave them to me at a discounted price because of the situation.)


We gathered Saturday morning, only 3 hours after Sergio passed. Taline had planned for the girls to come and help, so she drove them over, Nairi still in her pjs. We fawned over them like mother hens. "Hail to the artists!" I called out as they came in. We built their artistic talents up. They were eager to tell us who had drawn which pictures, what the art represented, how many 1st, 2nd places they had won with their art. Then we incorporated them into the assembly line. Adrine was counting envelopes, Nairi was transferring folded cards to the packaging table, and all the while our women, knowing the Perez's great loss, spoke with them gently about their Baba and loved on them.

Here is an account of the women who came:
Bev, who's school principal husband  suffered with Alzheimers the last 13 years of his life.
Vivian, who lost her husband to cancer when she was 55.
Nancy, a single gal who had recently lost her own parents and serves as a school counsellor. She took up the work station next to Taline and was able to listen and converse quietly with her.
Tami battles cancer currently.
Grace who had come through her own near death experience, guided Nairi's hand as she wanted to cut with the paper cutter. When Vivian, the school nurse, took on that station and Nairi still wanted to 'help', Vivian quipped she didn't want of either of them hurt.


And lastly Marty who is just the sweetest fun lady ever. She told me later:
 When Nairi came by my "scoring station" I was so interested to ask her about the drawing with her family. I couldn't figure out who that fifth person was in the drawing. "That's my sister, my daddy, momma and me. I won 2nd prize of my costume." 
"Oh, and who is that person down here in the corner?
"That's the lady handing out the candy," she answered. Silly me, who would have thought to draw the lady handing out the candy?!


   I am thinking that it was not by chance that God had moved these women to come today. The day when these girls needed love and grounded women who could minister.

   When Nairi had to wait while the "quality controller" trimmed cards, her little 6 year old voice told us we needed to work faster!  Hm.
Someone told me that Taline has steel in her backbone, and that it has served her well during this wearisome season.  It appears Nairi has some of that in lesser degree. Adrine did the work of counting the packs of envelopes, and watching the process more quietly.

   At one point, Nairi turned her head up and wanted to talk to me. I squatted down to her level, and listened as she told me that this morning she wanted to kiss her Baba, but his hands were cold and his feet were cold and his cheek was soft and squishy so she just kissed his forehead as her good bye. After her story she flitted outside with her sister to play with our dog, Oreo.

   Taline and the girls accompanied me to my mother-in-law's house next door and practiced their sales presentation. Mary responded and bought 3 packs and gave them a generous tip. Sales had begun. Adrien quickly realized this was going to entail some math. Not a bad skill to launch her into.  When back at our place, the workers also shelled out cash for their own set of cards. How's that? Volunteers to work and then they pay for the product. Now there is some good work ethic for you!


 I got this note from Barbara,who had dropped by:

 I'm in awe at God's timing for this opportunity to take place today, so the girls could be distracted in a very healthy way.

   I believe this is what Holy work looks like. People caring about others, people who themselves have faced death or grave sickness and loss- squarely and know that God gives strength and cause to keep on living. 

My sister, Terri came over afterward and in recalling the morning to her, I realized this. It is Satan who steals, kills and destroys. Sergio's cancer was an attack. But this death would not deter the life-giving opportunity that was given us, on this morning. And we could share in this sacred moment of inclusive love towards the hurting, by nurturing spirits to enjoy creativity and beauty and by generous mercy towards 3 women who have suffered these 6 months. God and his goodness, even in the face of pain will not be overcome.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Friends Worship Service



Reflection on the worship service in Joy hall Monday night May 27th. 

"Del Chinchen is coming to Granada on Monday May 27, to apologize for his years of deception. He will make a brief statement and then will respond to questions from those who have been hurt by him. "

Because of my history with this body of believers at GHFC, I responded to his invitation not because I was hurt but because I anticipated an intense God-presence.The sin of immorality is part of the human experience no matter how "sanctified" a congregation may be, and being so it needs to be processed in a way congruent with Kingdom living. That is a tall order. Sadly in the body of Christ we tend to be more likely to set ourselves up as stone throwers than fellow grace-receivers. But I know the people in my local body to be well founded on grace as well as truth. So I went because I knew I would learn something.

Joy hall was filled with about 40 of us. Ed introduced Del and Del came to the front to face us. I was moved by his small figure standing in shame, with head bowed; declaring to us his apology for having sinned against his wife, having brought shame to his mission effort, his church, his God and the name of Christ. He spoke slowly and mostly with downcast eyes. Here before us stood a man who was suffering in the weight of his sin. Next to me my husband took out his hankerchief and wiped his eyes. 

Del then opened to questions from us; some details about what was being done to make things right with the women involved, with his wife with his daughters, his family. Del was notably grieved to relay that certain family members wanted nothing to do with him, that other family members were willing to extend grace but needed time for their own healing. He relayed that he is presently living in a monastery in the same city with Becky. He teared up at quoting Becky, communicating his high regard for her. One of those things Becky told Del, was that he should not be ashamed to be on an "apology tour", because it was a form of worship. This is the very reason Jesus came, to pardon our sin. 

Then came response from us who had come; dear sisters who spoke to Del, and affirmed our commitment to him, our love for him and extended God's grace through our little body to him. Our weeping prophet, Chum also thanked Del, for coming; for having the courage to do what needed to be done and assured Del of our love. I don't remember a time I ever saw so many men weep. 

Ed closed by inviting us to prayer. Among the prayers these thoughts came:
Who of us is beyond the realm of doing an apology tour of our own? Who of us could fancy that we could be the one to cast the first stone? We are on equal ground and in God's eyes this is why his son came to rescue us. God, may Del and his family experience restoration. 

Del's was a serious sin, that affected many, but it was not beyond reach of the blood soaked cross. And Del was bringing his sin to the cross and to us his fellow believers who supported him for years with money, prayers and love. Isn't this where sin is best processed if we keep the focus on the cross? God has forgiven, who are we to hold it against Del? 

It was a time of worship. Scripture records, as the last supper ended the little Jesus band ended with a hymn. So it seemed most appropriate that we ended our meeting by singing Amazing Grace.

Talking with Del afterward he said that before the meeting he considered it would be a meeting of closure of his relationship with Granada. Looking up at Fred and I he said, "But that is not what I heard tonight. I heard that you welcome me back."

It has been said that in the Friend' tradition, business meetings are 'A worship meeting where business gets done." Becky was right. May 27th was a worship meeting; a worship meeting where an apology for sin was made.  Thank you Del for taking a hard but neccessary step. We will pray for you and all those affected, to experience God's deep grace. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Epiphany: A Moment of Piercing Awareness.

Today is January 6th Epiphany. The day the church celebrates the Magi visitation.

Since I can remember I have always hand written a letter to the “3 Kings” and tucked it into my shoes which were left outside the door. They would sit there all night in anticipation of the gifts the 3 kings would leave me. Today the 3 kings are 86 years old and although they live next door to me their age has tethered them closer to home. This year, I didn't put out my shoes for the first time since I can remember. Time changes things.

The custom also spread to my children as they grew up. But now far away or all grown up, their shoes aren’t filled either. But my parents' laughter as they read their letters and appreciated the childish drawings are a reservoir of joy to me. 

This day, Epiphany and this part of the nativity history is chilling. Particularly when I had my own two year olds and now especially as Fred and I enjoy our own sweet grandchildren.
How is it possible that such an evil be contrived?

Herod, jealous and self absorbed, sets out to extinguish a threat to his throne. In his grasp for power he couldn’t understand that the baby’s kingdom was not of this world. But no matter- his gruesome clutch of what he perceived his own, drove him mad. His own life would be snuffed out for this wickedness.

Boys, aged two and under..

Lee is two and Rose is not even one.
They are in the throes of innocence and emerging personality mixed with awakening of will. To grandparents they are life-givers in the way they marvel at the commonplace and make us slow down, stop and appreciate God’s world.



When the Magi didn't return to Herod, and he figured out they had outwitted him, the scripture says he was furious. He sent his soldiers to Bethlehem, to kill all boys age 2 and under. 
I wonder, would the soldiers have asked about age? What was given as verification that a boy was 2? Would they have really substantiated every boys age? Would they have been careful to leave the 29 month olds alive? Were any girls slaughtered by mistake? Would the soldiers have had to muster a frenzy to strike and in their frenzy have struck without authentication? 
                                                       





"A cry was heard in Ramah-
 weeping and great mourning.  
 Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted 
 for they are dead."


Why didn't God intervene to save the innocent?
Children die every year of disease, accidents and even mortality in the womb, while the wicked seem to prosper in their plans. What comfort is given the mothers of these children?
Bereaved Bethlehem mothers holding limp little bodies. Empty places at the table, little things they played with stilled.. my heart collapses at imagining it.
Would we have said, "Well, Jesus was saved."
Life has difficult questions. Losses we don't understand.

The difficult questions compel us to search our own faith deeply. And thrust us into the arms of God. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis explores God's character like this:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

I need an epiphany to take a hold of my own life.  I love the joys given me, but there is more than that. In life's difficulties I want to be an overcomer. Like those sited in Revelation who are faithful till the end because they know their king because they trust their king.  Because they have had an epiphany.

 From CS Lewis' The Horse and His Boy:
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
Dear God:
When you sent your only son in the envelope of humanity it was not a safe plan. He was targeted for destruction from the beginning. His mission, his intent, his objective was not safety. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank you Jesus for your willingness to be susceptible to all that evil could hurl at you, so that I might live in your presence forever.
You are the lion that is
for me and
with me
and I want to trust you in all things. Help my shaky faith to grow, to remember that you are the King. May that be my Epiphany.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection Day Commemoration 2014

This year, Lois Thorpe is living with us and I was privileged to have her co-ordinate our get together. She baked for days before and I posted pics on fb. The trumpet shall sound and the BREAD shall be raised! Sunday we had Lois, Abs, Phil, Lee and 3 month old Rose, Terri, Jacob (who has blessed my soul by moving back in), and my folks for the noon meal. Mom Taylor popped in for a while.

The past year has been a debilitating one for the grand folks. My dad, although his hearing is now being assisted, has lost his leg strength, my mom has had different things take away her energetic self, but she still tries to maintain a positive attitude and rubs crazy plants on her body and eyes which cause us distress. Mom Taylor took a fall when retrieving her mail and her balance is off so she stays closer to home than before and has had a stair lift installed.
Coming to these inevitable years of decline has introduced me to a new world. A world where the body diminishes but the soul has unprecedented room to grow. All of our bodies are new to us year by year. Having limits put on our mobility opens areas of submission in our souls. Our attitude and mindset makes the difference. I am thankful that both sides of our compound are not stuck in complaining or woe is me-ing. They face their challenges with God as their comfort and source of strength.

I decorated the dining table with Ukrainian styled Easter eggs.





We had made these eggs on camping trips, at home, in Mammoth and they recall many memories of wax on wax off.
I have some favorites and one of them had a duck on one side and a chicken on the other. It represented about 6 hours of work. I showed it to Lee who asked to hold it.

Fred says maturity comes in 2 forms, what you can expect it and what you can't expect it. At age 12 if I hand one of these eggs to Lee and he crushes it, I will be disappointed because I would expect him to know better. But at the age of 2, I can't expect him to know how to gingerly hold an egg.
In my eagerness to share my chicken art, I didn't think of that.


It was crushed in the first 5 seconds.

Ten years ago my own spirit would have crushed simultaneously. 
But something has happened to my heart.
My love for Lee is greater than my love for a tediously crafted egg.
Cheers!
Has it taken this long to overcome some crazy loves?
Love of my own efforts has given way to love of adorable people instead. May it spread to all people, adorable or not.
This kind of maturity grows slower than I might have expected. Resurrection power seems slow in my heart.

After the meal we relished the oft-forgotten luxury of unhurried conversation. 
I made the "kids" play a squirt gun egg roll game that ended up showing me ALL of them were great sports.



Abigail tore this out of a magazine and brought it to me. She is now in the position of appreciating what a mom does. But as Thomas Jefferson said, "It is not a burden what we do willingly."



Oddly,  I don't remember all the diaper changing. According to this Hershey kiss ad: 6,203 x 4 would be 24,812 diapers over the course of four children. WOW that is plethora of diapers. However with them I am blessed to recall the joy of pattering footsteps, eager voices chiming out to one another, little hands attempting new skills, and the wonder of God's world through little eyes.

Terri achieved the monumental milestone of making Rose giggle.
Easter, Resurrection day.
My greatest blessings are love between family and growing maturity. Whether that be holding eggs or our own human frailness with care and consideration.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Gentler Thanksgiving: Men Being Men


We looked forward to this Thanksgiving weekend in Mammoth. There was just enough snow around the condo to introduce 20 month old Lee to it and watch his eager dad, pull him around in a red sled. Lois and Terri came up and Lois made the feast since I was a little under the weather. Fred and Phil ATV’ed while 8 month pregnant Abby and I stayed inside or toddled outside with Lee or Oreo. Three years ago I was in Denver Trauma Center with Fred and his broken pelvis courtesy of an ATV accident. This was a more gentle, tamer week.

Lois and Terri left Friday. Saturday Fred and Phil planned a big ATV trip to Coyote Flats  (10,500 elevation), a lovely place in the summer where we have camped with an off-road church group before.
They packed their lunches. Phil made an offhand suggestion that they should take an ax just in case they might need to chop wood, but Fred declined. Abby and I settled in to knit, read and snack. She was finishing the 3rd book of the Hunger Games series. We took Lee to the library and the skating rink to watch.

Fred had told me just the night before that if ever there was a mechanical breakdown or a situation where he couldn’t get back on an adventure, he would send a message on his spot tracker. (a device that my wise & considerate son bought him that beacons out his GPS co-ordinates so we can track him and be less likely to worry- it also has a button to push for emergencies that triggers the military to seek immediate help- that button was pushed 3 years ago) He would send the message out 3 times: “Everything is ok and going as planned.”
At 2:44 pm, my inbox got this message.
One time.
At 5 o’clock I checked the inbox, no message. Six o’clock, no message. It is dark and very cold outside. By 7pm, I am beginning to wonder, I see 3 more GPS co-ordinates that were beaconed out but they have no message and they are all very close to each other. I head over to the police dept. to get their opinion and to use their computer to get a better look at the co-ordinates. Since no one answers the door, I have no recourse but to use the RED 911 phone outside. I try and steady my voice in case this call goes viral IF this adventure ends unfavorably. “..Yes, my husband and my son in law, haven’t returned, Fred Taylor, Philip Stevens, we expected them back by nightfall, etc. Ok, I will wait here until an officer opens the door.”

Five minutes later an officer escorts me inside and I log into the spot finder site. Yup, he hasn’t moved much since 2:44. More questions: now my license is copied and we contact Search and Rescue. Outside temperatures where they are tonight will be in the teens.  But the good news is that there haven’t been any emergency messages sent, so they assume that the 2 are probably all right. As I go out the door, one officer quips, “This isn’t bad, its just men being men.” I raise my hand incredulously and say, “WHAT is up with that?!”


Back at the condo, I tell Abby. She is engrossed in her book, but we stop and pray. We are interrupted by a call from Search and Rescue. “Are the men experienced ATV’ers? “Yes, one of them is,” I answer and Abby energetically shakes her head that the other one isn’t.”  Search and Rescue asks, “ Are they prepared for cold? Are they familiar with the area?”  I answer affirmatively. I remember that Fred always has emergency provisions packed and he secretly hoped that he would get stuck out sometime so he could face that challenge. Later we find out that it was more Phil’s ambition that kept them out. I ask what the chances of survival in this weather are. The officer assures me, that the guys survival is very good, but they will suffer a “cold and miserable night.” I gave Search and Rescue the log in information so they can watch for any activity through the spot tracker.  The officer tells me he will call if they have any updates.

At 3:30 am after finally getting to sleep, he calls me. "Have I heard anything?"
Nope.
"Ok, then they are going to get their volunteer Search & Rescue group together & position to head out.

Another call at 7 am. They are moving out. The officer informs me that unless they have an emergency call they don’t head out until daylight. So all this time I thought they were searching they were just on standby till the sun came up. I guess that is better to know on this side of night than on that side.
During the night I prayed. Among my prayers was: Dear God make Fred so miserable in this adventure that he won’t want to do these things again, and preserve Phil from being so miserable that he won’t go out with Fred again.

In the meantime, had I had the presence of mind to view the co-ordinates up very close on the Satellite view I would have seen this.

A meager but sheltering cabin, where adventurers could take emergency refuge.
Apparently, The guys realized when they drove out that the snow was softening and causing them to use more gas than usual just to make headway. Fred figured the only way to get them out on the gas that remained was to wait for the snow to ice up solid again. Only way to do that was to wait for nightfall. Phil was up for spending the whole night out and Fred remembering the old cabin’s location ATV’ed them to it.

Once there, they scrounged around to prepare for the night.
Phil thought he could use his knife to pry wood for burning, but upon exploring around found an ax in the attic area. Phil began to split wood.  Fred found a pile of snow next to the cabin and brushed off the top. Eureka! A wood pile. Phil was eager to get the fire going so at 3pm he started it. The wood burning stove warmed the place up to 88 degrees, but the cabin’s construction dissipated the heat quickly, requiring them to keep the fire stoked all night. Fred broke out his emergency food, and they settled in for the night of 13 degree weather. Granted, sleeping on a table top and a piece of wood in your clothes wasn’t the most satisfying but it was sure better than being in the elements outside.
 Here's the temperature reading
as they left in the morning.

Wish we had known they were so toasty. It was warmer in that cabin than in ours!

7:34 am my phone rings once again.
 Its Fred.
"WHERE are you?" I ask concernedly.
 “Didn’t you get my messages??” he asks.
 In the background, Phil mutters, “BUSTED.”

So Fred had tried to send us messages, but they failed.

Once they arrived Fred was apologetic and said the fact that we had been worried, cast a shadow on their ride home. But hey, that was 2 hours as opposed to the previous 12 we had to worry- so I say we women were the winners, or…
wait maybe that’s the losers?
So, all is well and the guys had a stellar adventure and it turned out "not to be bad but just men being men.."
I don’t understand that
men being men stuff but I know its a fact of life.
And I am glad this son-in-law-ATV-adventure was a milder one. 
Phil counted this as an adventure of epic proportions! 
HOORAH!
I guess half of my prayer was answered.