30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/8/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)


Today, I’m grateful to be waking up in a world that is not eternally mired in distrust, hatred, bigotry, violence, racism, misogyny, sexism, or provincialism. All those things are still there in our society, but they’re no longer in the ascendency. I have real hope once again after a full year of stomach-churning disgust and terror. The election results last night in a small way did much to rout the forces of evil. Thanks be to God.

We have a new mayor in Tacoma – a woman of color. A transgendered woman was elected to the legislature in Virginia, defeating the self-proclaimed “homophobe-in-chief.” A progressive Democrat was elected to the Washington State Senate, giving progressives a solid block of three governorships, three senates, and three houses of representatives on the West Coast. Maybe we can begin to turn the tide against the forces who would destroy our beautiful planet with backwards climate thinking, and shrinking of our public lands and monuments.

The battle for the light is not done. We must remain vigilant. We must continue to work for the marginalized of our society. But there once again is a light at the end of the tunnel.



30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/6/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)


Today I’m thankful for my little house at Franke Tobey Jones in Tacoma, WA. It’s warm and cozy in the winter, and cool and breezy in the summer. The maintenance people keep everything running smoothly and the landscaping crew keeps the grass mowed, and leaf-free. I’m happy here.



30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/1/17

(It occurs to me that I never posted on November 1st)

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)

I’m so grateful for my church. The friends I’ve made there, and the sense of purpose they have brought into my life as a “newcomer” has been life-giving. I know it would have been easy to “retire” from life when I retired from work, but, thanks to these folks and especially Pastor Sarah, I didn’t. They have loved me and corrected me and pushed me to keep growing in God’s goodness.

Thank you, Bethany!




30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/5/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)

I’m eternally grateful that I get to spend my declining years between the mountain and the sea. For this “flatlander” from arid Texas to be able to walk out my door and look one direction and see Puget Sound, and the other direction and see Mt. Rainier is a blessing.

“For the beauty of the earth…Lord, of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”



30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/4/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)

Today I’m thankful for my friends on Facebook. You inspire me, and correct me, and pray for me, and love me. Some of you I’ve met in real life, and some are only pictures on a computer, but you are all dear to me. (And if your picture/icon didn’t make it there, it doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for you – it just means that Facebook only shows 16 at a time.)



30 Days of Thankfulness – 11/3/17

For the month of November, I’m going to try to include gratitude in all my posts (and post every day.)

Today I’m grateful for the ACLU. I feel safer and more sure of my constitutionally protected rights as an American. In these uncertain times, we all need all the help we can get in defending our rights.

Join me in donating to the ACLU.


2017 Intentions – August

As I said here, I dumped my original Star Word in favor of COURAGE.

These are my intentions for the year. Let’s see how I’m doing showing COURAGE in each case.

I will resist hatred, prejudice, and evil, and speak out against all of them when I see/hear them.

  • I will resist evil, hatred, and reactionary government by signing up with Wall of Us. Each week you will receive a list of four actions you can take by writing to your elected representatives to ensure your values are being considered by the government. Some are local, some are state, and some are national. Often you will receive suggestions of products to boycott or hatred to call out.
    • I’ve consistently made phone calls – either in support of my representatives positions or to encourage them to speak out. I have both US Senators’ and my Representative’s number saved in my phone and I call, at least, weekly.
    • I’m still calling. Right now, I’m focusing on LGBT rights, global warming, and immigrant rights.
  • I’ve signed up with People Power – a grassroots organizing effort backed by the ACLU.
    • I’m on the local leadership team for People Power in Tacoma
    • I continue to text almost daily for People Power. We’re focusing on the possible repeal of DACA.
  • I have attended a City Council meeting where they were discussing eliminating fossil fuels from our port.
  • I attended a Washington Won’t Discriminate training, and will be working to bring Trans-101 training to groups I can influence. I’m trying to get the training here at Franke Tobey Jones.
  • I supported progressive candidates in the local city council elections.

I will exercise regularly and eat good, healthy food.

  • I will try to get 10,000 steps a day – so far, so good, for the most part.
  • I will log my food every day (and no cheating)  – I have lost the weight I put on since the first of last May. That includes the weight I gained while traveling to see the Alabama Watters and at General Assembly. Next milestone will be when I get back to where I was when we returned from our big 50th Anniversary trip in November 2015.
  • I will cook most of the food we eat from scratch, and will be careful of extra salt and additives in any packaged foods – check, check, and check.
    • I’ve also planted green beans and squash. The green beans are just about finished.
    • I have planted the tomato and pepper plants. The peppers are in decent shape after being chewed by slugs. The tomatoes did not well. I’m about ready to pull them up.
    •  I will continue to get Blue Apron meals whenever my schedule allows me time to prepare them. If you would like to try them, send me your email in a comment, and I’ll send you three free meals (I have at least 5 sets available).

I will make personal contact with at least half of the churches in the Presbytery.

  • I will meet the pastors for coffee and a “get-to-know-you” time. So far I’ve only connected at Presbytery meetings and events.
  • I continue to attend Leadership Council, and Administrative Council meetings, Trustee meetings, Taskforce for New Worshipping Communities meetings, and meetings of the Granting Team for distributing mission money to various churches. I’ve finished with my temporary assignment as Treasurer. Bernie is healing and back to full participation.
  • I will try to meet with the sessions and invite more participation by Ruling Elders in Presbytery meetings and commissions and committees.
  • I’m working on getting some money from the Leadership Council to subscribe to Mission Insight for the Taskforce on New Worshipping Communities. We need demographic data to explore potential new church plants in underserved areas of the Presbytery. There’s a meeting this Wednesday of the Taskforce. Hopefully out request can go forward from there.

I will work for more racial diversity and harmony in my city and church.

  • I will encourage a dialogue between Bethany and at least one historically Black congregation – no opportunities yet, but I’m working on it.
  • Our Interfaith Dialogue will resume September 26th.

I will pray for Big Al as he faces decreased mobility and increasing pain from his back problems. I will try to remember that he is hurting, and not push him to do more than he is comfortable doing – I’m doing pretty well with this one, but it means I often go places and do things that leave him at home alone.

  • My sister came to visit for a week, and we drove around the Olympic Peninsula, up Mt. Rainier, and spent 3 days in Portland for the Great American Eclipse. I didn’t realize how much I missed family until she was here, and then gone again. There’s some about having someone around who knows and understands all the ‘old family sayings”, and remembers the same places and things you do from your childhood. I’m here because I want to be, BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the people from past lives.

Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Receiving

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Receiving this week. We looked at the story of the feeding of the 5000 in John’s Gospel. There are six versions of this story in the four gospels. Apparently the writers felt like it was important. There’s a theory that everybody really had food, but they were reluctant to share until the little boy offered his four loaves and two fish. This make sense. If you think you are the only person who has enough food for yourself, then it’s easy to be reluctant to share what you have with folks who have nothing. This is true today – the problem with hunger is not one of scarcity – it’s one of distribution. There is empirically enough food for every person on the planet to be fed. Just like there is enough money on the planet for every person to have $1,000,000.

But that’s probably not what this story is about. None of the writers tell the story that way. They tell the story from the point of view of the people who were hungry. They tell the story as a miracle. When we feel like we’re hungry or hurting or needing, we feel like we can’t possibly solve the problem by ourselves. We need more than we can provide. When despair overtakes us, we need more and we hide from that truth. It’s terrifying how much we need. There’s a miracle in asking for help. We have a lot to give, but we need to receive what’s being given first. What are you hungry for? What do you need to receive?

1.  Pray with your hands open and upturned this week. How does it feel? I’ve been doing this ever since I learned centering prayer. When I pray this way, I have learned not to want anything, not to ask for anything. I just open myself  to God, and to God’s working in my heart and soul.

2.  Say yes every time someone offers you help this week. I read this suggestion during church, and almost immediately I didn’t do it. I was carrying two plates of picnic food – one for my husband and one for myself – and someone offered to carry one for me. Did I accept the help? No! I said, “That’s fine, I can do it myself. Thanks anyway.” *Sigh* I’ve got a lot to work on with this one.

3. When you encounter a challenge, ask yourself: what am I being invited to receive from this situation? I’ll have to ponder this one. I know I am challenged to graciously accept thanks or praise. I’ll definitely work on that this week.


Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Rest

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Rest this week. With all the strife and turmoil in the world right now, it’s going to be difficult to practice REST. There are still people who are hungry, still people who are living in terror, still people who need all the help they can get, still people being injured because of the color of their skin, or because of their beliefs. How can I possibly rest when all that is going on in the world.

But she reminded us that when the 5000 were fed, it was Jesus who did it. When the blind man could see, it was Jesus who healed him. Jesus told his disciples to rest – Jesus himself rested. We all need to reconnect with our strength – God alone!

1.  Find somewhere where you can be alone. Sit and do nothing while you’re there. The picture is one of my favorite places to sit and rest. I watch the ducks (sometimes there are ducklings). I feel the sun on my face. I daydream.

2.  Say no to something this week. I’m entertaining my sister for a week, so I’m saying no to lots of things I regularly do. Church work is going to have to get along without me. My resistance work will still be here when I return. I’m mostly going to be unplugged from social media and the news.

3. Take a nap. Or, sit by a window and just stare for a little while. I already practice this every morning as I air-dry after my shower. This is my time to admire the flowers, the trees, and birds.


Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Faith

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Faith this week. She also taught us a new word – palimpsest. It comes from a manuscript (usually ancient) that has been erased or scraped away, but the old is still visible. It’s given its name to something in layers, whereby you see the most recent, but the older layers are still visible. Thomas de Quincy said this about the mind:

What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain? Everlasting layers of ideas, images and feelings, have fallen upon your brain softly as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before. And yet in reality not one has been extinguished. They are not dead but sleeping, there is none of passion or disease that can scorch away these immortal impulses.

That’s how God sees us – all the layers. Faith reminds us of the times we have been afraid and things have turned out well. God sees us as we were and as we will be. Faith is the opposite of fear.

1.  When you feel afraid, try asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help. Somebody asked me today “What are you afraid of?” I had to admit that as a pragmatist and as a woman over 70 years of age, I’ve come to terms with certain death, and possible illness, and potential loss of friends and family. I am terrified of North Vietnam right now, but I try to remember that in life and in death we belong to God. (For a peek inside my Existential Angst, listen to Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. You can see the lyrics at the link, and hear the albums on you tube – note particularly “The Final Cut” and “Two Suns in the Sunset.”)

2.  Make a list of times you’ve been afraid. Make a list of times you’ve been full of faith. Remember that it’s not either/or. We’re both faithful and fearful, and God loves us all of the time. I’ve been fearful at times when we ran out of money before we ran out of month. I’ve been fearful when my loved ones didn’t check in on time – kids out with the car and late getting home, my husband on remote assignment with the Air Force, and no letter in several days. All those times thing worked out. I suppose faith is remembering that – in the past things have worked out.

3. Ask for help with something each day this week. I really don’t have much of a problem asking for help – although it’s usually something small. I am becoming better about asking for mental and emotional help.