Photo Challenge: Holidays

Christmas Eve 2019, Urbandale United Church of Christ. Photo: TLClark, 12/24/19.

Christmas, for my husband and me, means gathering with other Christians to hear the old, old story of Jesus’ birth and to sing the old familiar Christmas carols.

When serving as a pastor in a church, Christmas Eve worship is a holy celebration I’ve considered skipping (not that that was an option!). Too many expectations. Too many traditions to be kept. So many memories held by the community. So many stories that could be told – some bittersweet, some heart warming, some simply silly or fun. So much love and joy. And always, always, a moment of wonder and of hope (which is why I’d never skip it!).

Candles on Christmas Eve are part of the tradition. The top photo shows the Advent candles – symbolizing hope, peace, joy, and love – with the Christ candle in the center; they were lit at the beginning of the service. The bottom photo shows a much cherished traditional end of Christmas Eve worship: holding a lit candle and singing “Silent Night.”

Singing “Silent Night” by Candlelight. Photo: TLClark, 12/24/19.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Holidays

Musing: Named

Christmas Bouquet. Photo: TLClark, 12/22/19.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet;

– William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet

My birth certificate, my driver’s license, and every legal document I’ve ever signed show my name is Teressa. But when I’m with family, I’m rarely called by that name.

“… you will call him Jesus … “

“… they will call him Emmanuel …”

from Matthew 1:21 & 23

Jesus is the name given to the baby whose birth Christians celebrate this time of year. But it’s not the only name he is called.

In the novels of The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin each character has a name known and used by others. But each also has a “true name” known to very few.

The names we use for one another matter. They carry connections to particular people. They may recall a specific place (my Girl Scout camp counselor name was “Louie”). They might speak to a season of life (nicknames of athletes on a sports team).

Names can be used to build up or tear down, as an endearment or a taunting, for expressing affection or ridicule.

Beloved, may you be called by name today – a name that strengthens your spirit and brings a smile to your face. And may every name you use for another be a word of encouragement.

Photo Challenge: Common

Pincushion and Scissors. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Once upon time – when I was but a child – my mother had common sewing tools. I have similar tools today: a red pincushion and a pair of orange-handled fabric scissors. Those who own fabric scissors share a common rule: THOU SHALT NOT USE THE FABRIC SCISSORS ON PAPER (OR ANY OTHER NON-FABRIC MATERIAL).

When my mother started quilting, her tool kit expanded. I have followed her lead, becoming a quilter and acquiring modern tools of the trade.

Common Tools for Quilters. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Common quilter’s tools include:

  • Cutting mat (background), rotary cutter (bottom left), and specialty rulers (three shown);
  • Thread in neutral colors;
  • Long, thin pins on a magnetic pin holder;
  • Small pair of scissors;
  • and a good seam ripper (for un-sewing, sometimes called Jack).

Q: What is the difference between a beginning quilter and an experienced quilter?
A: The experienced quilter keeps her seam ripper handy.


I used most of the tools – plus a few others – earlier today making quilted Christmas cards.

Quilted Christmas Cards. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Posted in response to this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: “… it might be interesting to go for something rather Common… Whether it is the every day, common object or the things that you have in common, or crossing the town common.”

Photo Challenge: Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait. Photo: TLClark, 12/14/19. Taken with a Samsung Galaxy J7 smart phone.

For Khürt’s Smart Phone Challenge : Use your smart phone to “take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.”

Those who know me well don’t need much of an explanation. Books, a camera, some quilting, and a paten and chalice paint a pretty good picture of who I am.

I am the daughter and granddaughter of quilters, but it it has only been in the last ten years that that I have become a quilter. The wall-hanging of flowers reflects my love of nature. The table runner shows my interest in music and states my firm conviction that “All Are Welcome” (song by Marty Haugen, words stitched below the notes) in God’s realm.

The paten and chalice are symbols of my being an ordained pastor and teacher in the United Church of Christ. Although not currently serving a church, I do pulpit supply (preach and lead worship) when colleagues are away on a Sunday morning.

The camera was a Christmas gift from my husband a dozen years ago. My first SLR camera was a combined Christmas and 16th birthday present from my parents. I caught the photography bug from Dad. He took pictures and developed the B&W film; Mom printed pictures in our home darkroom.

Thanks to parents who read to me, I have been a reader for as long as I remember. When I was in trouble as a child it was likely because I had my nose in a book. A common refrain from my teen-age years: “turn off the light, you need to go to sleep.”

Notes about the books I chose for the photograph.

  • Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn. Be aware of wonder. It’s a big, beautiful world and there is much to be amazed by and marvel at.
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Listen to your heart. Follow your dreams.
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Be willing to take a risk. Know that things are not always what they seem.
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris. A beautiful description of the land and the people not so far from where I grew up.
  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. A wise and witty account of coming to faith in a “series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another.”
  • This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New by Wendell Berry. Who knew I’d like poetry!!

THIS DAY

After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
the pastures begin again
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice. If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.

“This Day” by Wendell Berry

Life Is Short

Gerbera Daisy. Photo: TLCLark, 12/1/19.

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

–  Henri Frederic Amiel (Swiss Philosopher, 1821 – 1881)

Last week did not go according to plan. Not that we had any specific plans. But instead of staying home, we dropped everything to go be with family. Short story: Mom fell. Brain bleeds, broken cheek bone, and lots of facial bruising.

The good news: she’s doing really, really well.

It could have been otherwise.

Now that we’re home and getting back to our regular routine, I’ve been thinking about a Commissioning/Benediction I’ve used at the end of many Worship services. Based on a quote (above) by Henri Frederic Amiel, it goes like this:

Life is short
and we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So be swift to love,
Make haste to be kind,
And go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

~ ~ ~

It’s more than a flower picture, but since it is a flower I’m linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day Photo Challenge! Thank-you, Cee, for sharing beautiful flowers and encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

Photo Challenge: Fantasy

Butterfly, Nature Connects Exhibit, Reiman Gardens, Summer 2016. Photo: TLClark.

If you had all the LEGO(c) bricks you’d ever dreamed of having and more than enough time to create whatever you might imagine, would that be a fantasy come true?

Pansy with Bee, Nature Connects Exhibit, Reiman Gardens, Summer 2016. Photo: TLClark.

Or are you more the sort to just enjoy another’s creation?

Dragonfly, Nature Connects Exhibit, Reiman Gardens, Summer 2016. Photo: TLClark.

Pictures are from the 2016 exhibit “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO(c) Bricks” at Reiman Gardens, Ames, Iowa. The sculptures were created by Sean Kenney.

Go to https://www.inside.iastate.edu/article/2016/04/21/legos for a more information about the 2016 exhibit. Visit https://www.reimangardens.com/exhibition/2020-wild-and-whimsical/ for information about the exhibit scheduled for 2020.

~ ~ ~

Posted in response to Tuesday Photo Challenge – Fantasy by Dutch goes the Photo!