Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas homily

The following is a homily I shared at a beautiful Christmas service I co-led at my work, Sholom Home. The other leaders were some brothers and sisters who follow Christ through Catholicism. The resident spiritual 'pastor' Rabbi Bell was also present and shared thoughts, songs and blessings. It was a unique experience.

The readings were from Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96 and Luke 2:1-20.

"Christmas celebrates, rightfully so, with much joy, gathering of family and giving of gifts. As we take a few moments to reflect on this gift of Christ let us never forget the surprising way the gift was given.

An eternal Father bestows his son as a helpless child born to scared parents in a tiny stable. He then sends his mighty messengers to a group of despised shepherds announcing the arrival of the King and his Kingdom. They are told the sign...a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger...WHAT?!!

Have they dreamt, is it an illusion? There is only one way to know. They go stable by stable until they find Joseph, Mary and Jesus. God as a helpless baby. They return changed, praising God. Mary ponders these things in her heart.

Our response must be that of the shepherds-go and see, then glorify and praise God. Our response must also be that of Mary-ponder these things in our hearts. God has come. We are his children through the way of his Son. Today, with joy, let us receive Jesus, the greatest gift.

by poetree

God became not just a man,
but a fetus.
A child they say will lead us.
This creates quite a fuss,
for those of us who are wise.
Thus we must learn to despise
The pride that is our demise
And we must realize
Humility is the only prize."

Merry Christmas (even though Jesus was not born December 25th or anytime near December. What shepherds would be keeping watch outside in winter?! Nonetheless, God has become one of us to make us one of his. WOW!!!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Introducing......November Project!!

Well folks, it is finished! I just published the November Project poetree book. I am really excited to share this and for the possibilities of future creations. Click on the picture to check it out at your leisure and give me some feedback. Hopefully I will be able to do more of this soon.
Be sure to look through both Book I and Book II. I decided to break it up into two books, each with 15 poems. Also, make sure you do not miss the Bonus Track. It is a sneak preview of a poetree book that is yet to be released. The link is www.wix.com/mplspoetree/book. Thanks!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pottery Studio and Poetree Book

Pottery Studio

Well, after months of waiting and construction our front porch pottery studio is 'finished.' Truthfully, we have trimming, painting and other things to finish but it is done enough. This week we went to Continental Clay and purchased a Skutt Prodigy wheel and lots of accessories. Wednesday night we had a little house party where everyone got to throw something in the new studio on the new wheel!

We have a small kiln that we hope to get installed and firing in the new year. Needless to say we are very excited for the possibilities. I am excited to see what kind of rhythm happens with family, work and pottery. The next month I am working a lot because of the holidays but hopefully in January-March I will have lots of time to throw.

Poetree Book

As previously mentioned, I am writing a poem every day for the month of November. This, November Project, has been a great creative challenge for me. The other night, with assistance from Tanner, I began work on the online book that November Project is becoming. In early December I will post a link on here to the website where you can flip through the book. Not too be arrogant, but it is really awesome! I hope you like it; I think you will. Stay tuned!!!
Here is another sneak preview of the book.
Dust, sweep, clean
As I prepare
A place for creativity
May you prepare
A place for re-creation
Within me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The November Project by poetree!!!!!

Hey everyone out there in cyberspace. I know you all check my blog several times a week and wonder, 'why is it called poetree if he doesn't write poetry and rambles randomly about pottery?'

Okay, none of you check this and few of you wonder the above question. Nonetheless, I have recently felt inspired to write poetry again. Since I have a busy life with family and work, I felt I needed something more structured. So, I decided to write at least one poem each day of the month of November! The poems will be based on observations of everyday life. Some will have words that rhyme and some will not. I might even write a haiku!

I have a few ideas of what I will do with these poems. I may simply post them on here. I may create an online poetry book that you can flip through, I may make a papercopy poetry book to share or I may do none of the above. Ha!

Anyway, just wanted to let you know. Give me your feedback on what you would like. Here is a free sampling of 'The November Project.'


The last few leaves

fall from the trees

in this cool autumn breeze.

Friday, September 24, 2010

pottery update

hello everyone!

Some of you, like myself, may be wondering what is happening with me and my pottery adventure. Though it has been a slower season I am still very much excited about pottery. For the last few months we have slowly been building a pottery studio on our front porch. We hope to finish it sometime in October.

As of right now we have a small Skutt electric kiln, which needs to be installed, and a mostly finished studio space (see pictures on this post). Once the studio is complete we plan on purchasing a Skutt Prodigy wheel. Then the fun continues! I am working pretty much full time right now but anticipating that my hours will go down to more part-time in the winter. This will allow me to spend time with the family as well as practicing pottery. In the 'off' season I have been sketching, thinking and watching potters on youtube.

Stay tuned for more on the adventure. One bummer is that I have developed carpal tunnel in both wrists. Please pray that it will decrease so I can work and do pottery. Thanks. Also look for some writings to be posted soon. Shalom!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Heschel quote

"Civilization is on trial. Its future will depend upon how much of the Sabbath will penetrate its spirit." from God in Search of Man.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tree Song: new poem

Tree Song
by: poetree

Tall broad and strong
We have stood for long

Watching, listening, groaning
They have been cutting

Short thin and weak
They have just learned to seek

Fighting, killing, dying
We watch while crying

Long wide and deep
His love does slowly seep

Ebbing simmering waiting
He is always planting

Quick shallow and narrow
His light shoots like an arrow

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Albuquerque pottery: farewell

Bisque Firing
This last Friday my dad and I fired up the kiln for my bisque firing. I loaded the kiln Thursday night and it filled up almost 100% with what I had made. My dad uses an Olympia gas kiln so we were hoping for no wind. The bisque firing took 10 hours and all of my pieces 'survived.' There were a few pieces with cracks that I was not sure about. The weather experts were estimating that most of the coming days would have strong winds so we decided Sunday would be the best day for the glaze firing. This meant we had one day to glaze all 56 pieces and load the kiln.

Glazing Frenzy

Saturday we hung out with our dear friend Holly who drove down from Colorado to spend a day with us. After she left we unloaded the kiln, set up our makeshift glazing studio and began the arduous work of glazing 56 pieces in half a day.

It was amazing to have my mom around because she hung out with Shiloh all afternoon and evening when he was awake so we could glaze everything. We had a ton of fun creating together and Dana experimented with some really fun designs.

We ended up using nine different glazes in several different combinations. I loaded the kiln as the sun was setting. Surprising I filled up all but one shelf of the kiln with my pottery! Needless to say, we were exhausted at the end of the day. I went to sleep excited about the coming day and a bit anxious as I would be doing the firing by myself since my dad had to work.

Glaze Firing

I woke up early and energized Sunday. I caught my dad as he was leaving for work at 6:30am. I made sure I had at least some idea of what to do with the kiln. I light the pilot ring and got the burners going at 6:40am. I had no idea what I was doing really. I had talked through it with my dad and had his notes from the last firing he did last fall. Other than that I was relying on common sense and grace!

The day was long and exhausting as I hung around the kiln, cleaned up the mess left over from the glazing frenzy and tried to distract myself from the firing. The top level started heating up really well but I could not see any changes in the middle of bottom. I did not really understand what 'reduction' was but knew it was an important part of the firing. I followed my dad's notes very closely and felt like things were going well.

My dad got home around 4pm and I was very glad. By that time the 5 and 6 cones were bending on the top but were not moving in the middle or bottom. Around this time a gust of wind blew out the pilot ring. The safety feature turns off the gas automatically so there was no worry there. I relight the pilot and we set up a makeshift barrier for the wind. By 12 hours the top 5 and 6 cones were down, the 9 cone starting to go but still nothing in the middle or bottom. I was starting to get nervous. We kept the flame nice and steady, closed off the top port halfway and were patient. Not much longer afterward the middle 5 and 6 cones were beginning to bend but the bottom ones were not. By 8pm the middle had heated up and we decided to let it go till 8:40pm and then shut it off. What a long 14 hours!


I was so excited to see how everything turned out but had to be patient. I had plugged the observation holes and covered the top port and opened them Monday morning. Several hours later we peeked in to see the top shelf. Then we took a family nap! I woke up early, got some tables ready, opened the kiln and started unloading everything. It felt like Christmas morning!

For my first gas reduction firing and the fact that I have only been doing pottery for 5 months, I am thrilled with the results. The pieces on the bottom did not get hot enough and a very rough and not too pretty to behold. A little creative thinking, however, and we have found a functional use for each. Ha!

Dana's designs and our glaze combinations turned out really well for the most part. It has been such a great learning experience and I am sad to see it ending already. I have a few more things to do to leave my dad's space as I found it, hopefully a little better even. We are going to pack up all the pottery today and tomorrow. We hope we have enough room in our car for everything else. Ha!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Albuquerque pottery 2

As of right now I have 41 pieces of pottery ranging from very small infusers/filters to medium sized mixing bowls and bake ware. I am hoping to be able to do the bisque firing next week, put glazes on them and do the glaze firing around the 10th or 11th of May. We shall see how things work out. The good news is that my dad will be around more after Wednesday.

Here are some more pictures of what I have been creating. I have been having a blast and trying all sorts of new shapes: a tea pot, party platter, pie dishes, etc. Hopefully they will all turn out and be done when we leave in 11 days.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Albuquerque Pottery #1

We arrived at my parents' two weeks ago. My dad has been working 7 days a week so his time is very limited. I spent the first day moving, cleaning and rearranging my dad's pottery studio in the garage. The first week I spent practicing, practicing, and practicing. My dad's equipment is a decade older than I am and so it has taken me some time to adjust. That and the climate in significantly different. I can throw something, take the bat off the wheel and be able to trim it in a few hours!

I had two very frustrating days in a row where everything I touched fell apart. I was having a hard time with the basics like centering and getting very upset. I asked my dad for some help when he got home and after dinner we went to the garage. The first thing he asked me was, "Is the wheel how it has been all day?" Yeah, why? He then showed me how it was rocking back and forth and not level! Ha! After a few pointers about centering I tried it again. Needless to say, I am much more encouraged and had two full days of pottery Friday and Saturday. To the left is a tea mug and infuser/filter I have been developing.

One really exciting thing in my time here is that I have been able to sit down, sketch out ideas, wedge clay and throw pretty much what I had in mind from the beginning of the process. This has been very encouraging. I have been spending many hours at the wheel and just started keeping things this last week. I have been sketching some pitchers, mixing bowls with spouts and handles as well as mugs. Below is a picture of some mugs, pitchers and mixing bowls I threw Friday then trimmed and applied handles on Saturday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reflection on Good Friday

For years we have followed this man. We have been with him for every moment. We have left everything behind to know him. We have seen him touch people, heal people, love people in a way so completely different than anyone else. We have heard him speak, sing, teach and pray. His voice has become as familiar to us as our own voices.

All that changed last night.

We are in shock. We cannot believe what our eyes have seen. They came and took him by force. He did not fight and would not let us fight. We feel sick with disappointment. We were certain he was the one. All our lives we hoped prayed and waited for the moment we would hear news of his arrival. It came but in an unexpected way. Even up until the last few weeks we questioned if he was really the one. Then he spoke to us plainly and we believed.

Then last night came, the longest night of our lives.

We had spoken so boldly but when the time came to act we found ourselves frozen like a sword in its sheath. Why? Why didn’t he fight? Why didn’t he let us fight? If he really is the one we have waited for what kept him from being arrested, tried and condemned? The rulers most have been right after all. He cannot be the one because this is not how it is going to happen. He was so convincing in every aspect of life. We will never be able to shake the memory of him-alive with so much joy and now so utterly lifeless-dead.

We have never seen such a dim morning.

All our hopes are lost. This is the worst Sabbath of our entire lives. The songs have lost their meaning. The food tastes bland. The wine brings no joy to these broken hearts. We are overcome with sorrow. We are undone. The thought of him is too much. We can still hear the echo of his voice as we walk talk and pray. Never in our lives have we been so disappointed confused and angry. There seems to be a heavy cloud surrounding our every thought and movement. Darkness, like the day he died, covers our hearts. Darkness seals our hearts like the stone that sealed his grave.

Monday, March 29, 2010

pottery: glazes

It has been a while since I have updated about my pottery internship. I took a week off while Patti's son and daughter in law were in town. During that week I started writing a little bit again hence the entries with poetry.

The next week was very low key. I was content to play on the wheel as well as demonstrating for our moms what I have learned so far. I was glad that I was still able to create during my week off and excited that pottery has unlocked creativity in me.

Last week I went in on Tuesday before heading to Kansas City for our friends' wedding. I got to glaze all of the pieces I have made and kept so far. All but three of them were fired Tuesday night and I picked them up on Wednesday evening. What a joy to hold, see and share the fruit of my internship these last few months! God has been doing a lot of restoration in me through this whole journey. He has restored confidence in me as I have been able to create with my hands. Hallelu Yah!
I have one more day with Patti, tomorrow, before we head out on our road trip. I am so grateful for this opportunity and excited to see what the future holds in regards to pottery. The plan, for now, is to continue practicing and learning pottery at my folks in Albuquerque mid-April through mid-May. I will continue to blog and post pictures. I have a few projects in mind but mostly hope to practice throwing as much as I can in order to improve my technique. After that I am waiting and praying to see what opportunities open up for me to continue growing in and through pottery.

My dad made a plate for each of us kids when we were born. They have our name and date of birth on them. I decided to continue this tradition and made my version of a plate for Shiloh. I am really happy with how the plate turned out and hope to make more for my niece, nephews and other kiddos he blesses our family with. Here is Shiloh's plate. The middle inscription says: "Our mouths were filled with laughter," from Psalm 126. This Psalm was a key part of our pregnancy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

pottery: week 8 and 9

It is hard to believe that I have been learning pottery with Patti for 2 months already. I have been so grateful for this opportunity and am excited to see where all of this ends up.

Last week I learned how to pull handles as well as how to do sgraffito! Patti showed me two methods of pulling handles. The first was using a roller and doing more of a handbuilding method. The second is called 'pulling the handle of the pot' and is a lot like milking a cow! I was distracted and tired when I first tried this method and did not like it at all. After a few minutes, singing some songs, something changed and I pulled my first dozen handles. I had fun putting as many handles on a wedge of clay and it ended up looking like a very abstract trumpet.

One of my vases turned out to be more like a mug. I picked out my three favorite handles and then my favorite from those. I applied it using the scratch and slip method. Then I got to play with white and blue slips on my mug and plate. Patti had told me about sgraffito previously and had shown me some pieces in which she used sgraffito. Sgraffito is when you use carving tools to carve the clay and slip or glaze. The possibilities are endless. I practiced on my plate and was inspired by my dad. He had a practice of making a plate for each of his children which had their name and birthdate. I decided to make one for Shiloh. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera so you will have to wait for pictures!

Patti's son and daughter in love were in town this week so I am taking the week off. In the meantime I have been writing every day and am excited to post some more poetry, reflections, essays, etc. on here in the near future. Shalom!

Monday, March 8, 2010

fresh new poetry by poetree

i have been wanting to write poetry again lately. after a hiatus of several months here is a new poem. It is entitled, 'Fruits of the Spirit.'


Patience is not something bought

But received over

Hard long arduous

Battles that you

Never seem to win.


Joy smiles at the

Oddest of times

Like a long lost

Friend reappearing

At the moment of need.


Love is as near as

Your own breath

Yet as far as your ideal

Is from reality.


Peace rushes

In like rain

During monsoon season

Leaving a much needed



Kindness seems

A stranger to

Those who need

Her most.


Gentleness is not

Passive weak or


Gentleness is

Like a cool breeze

On a summer’s midday.


Self-control is,

Like true trust,

Always bestowed

And never exploited.