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Please Help Me Reach My Pre-Order Goal of 100 books

I’m excited to share this video that announces the publication of my Children’s book “I Remember Fishing with Dad”. I had lots of fun making it.

Please help me reach my goal to sell 100 copies of I Remember Fishing with Dad before November 15th. 

You can pre-order books on my web sight, www.sunnyshorestudio.wordpress.com. A book costs $25 ($30 including taxes, shipping and handling). To order look under “Buy Books and Art.” 

Selling 100 books by November 15th will provide the cash flow I need to order 200 copies of I Remember Fishing with Dad. If you do purchase a book or two for Christmas gifts I will mail you a signed copy as soon as the books are delivered to me on or before December 1st, 2015.

Praise for I Remember Fishing with Dad

I am blown away by the praise and kind words people I highly respect have for I Remember Fishing with Dad.

“This enchanting story carries the reader back to childhood on a voyage evocative with the exquisite watercolor illustrations of a father and son, Jack and Jason Dorsey. This book has become a classic in our family, to be reread and paintings enjoyed repeatedly.” Anita Deyneka, World Without Orphans and A Family for Every Orphan

“Jack Dorsey and son, Jason, have collaborated on a sincere expression of ‘just going fishing’ together. Through their beautiful watercolor illustrations and heartfelt words, readers can’t help but be connected to their own special childhood memories with Dad.” Thomas William Jones, noted American watercolor artist

“Jason Dorsey has written a good book on fishing. His message goes beyond fishing to a deep desire to see men reconnect with their children. He has seen the tragic impact of missing Dads and offers this enjoyable story to help fathers turn their hearts back to their children and families. Read it and then go fishing with your children, or mountain biking or hiking or swimming or whatever sweet spot you can find with them. May the Lord turn your heart toward your children.” Russ Pulliam, Indianapolis Star

“Every image that Jason Dorsey paints is radiant with gratitude — especially a deep thankfulness for family and a contagious enthusiasm for creation. While his memory for detail is impressive, his capacity to capture and reflect the light and colors of Pacific Northwest mornings will be a gift to every reader.” Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Auralia’s Colors

Thanks to people who believed in me and supported me along the way

I want to thank all my friends and family who believed in me and supported me in this project.

In particular I would to thank my friends, Matt Hale who helped me develop and early draft of this book and Paul Baumgarten who took the photographs for it, and David Lichty who encouraged me to create more dramatic tension in the story. Esther Heshenhorn was a great coach as I tried to figure out the ins and outs of writing children books. And I am especially thankful for Shelley Houston who is helping me bring this decade old project to light. And a special thanks goes to my nephew Josh Nelson who helped me create this video.

Finally, thanks to my dad who took me fishing. I love you.

On Buying Books and Art

We should buy books and art for many reasons. One of those reasons is that books and art intertwine with our lives, become part of who we are; like friends they are with us always, like historians they tell our story.

Here is the tour of our art collection in our new apartment in Redmond, WA that I promised friends back in Indy. It is also a tour of my story through art.

Let me begin with our bedroom. The art that surrounds Jenny and I are paintings by my mom of those who our dearest and closest to us, our children Jacob, Julian, Judah, and Jackie. My mom captured each of their special “thisness”.

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In our bedroom also hang these two acrylics, also painted by mom. One is of Jenny and I walking on the beach below our property on Camano Island.

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The other is of my dad, my brother Jed, myself and one of our boys walking with our morning catch of salmon at Cluxewe Restort on Vancouver Island, BC. From Cluxewe I can see Sointula, a small island where at the age of 18 God opened my heart to Him. It is one of our favorite places to vacation as a family; at least one of mine, because of the salmon fishing there.

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In the upstairs hallway hangs this watercolor I painted of the northern California coast and the mighty Redwoods there. Our family spent a week there with Jenny’s parent’s one summer and it is a place of sacred memory.

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This painting of Judah, done by my mom, Ann Cory Dorsey, is in his room: Judah awakening us all with his trumpet, he still brings music into our family, but he’s not so little any more.

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Now about to head down there stairs or at the top of the stairs, depending on which way you are going, is one of my sister, April’s, acrylics. She has a wonderful touch with flowers, among other things, and may be the most artistic of my siblings.

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At the bottom of the stairs hangs art by my Grandmother, Sayre Dodgson. Sayre went to Art School in Philadelphia. She had real talent as these sketches show. But one day her brother said to her, “Sayre, you have talent but not genius,”  She gave up her dream of an art career and went into nursing instead. I’m sad that she gave up on her art, but glad that she became a nurse and met my grandfather, and had my mom as one of her daughters.

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At the bottom of the stairs is art by my Great Grandmother, Fanny Y. Cory, who was a well known artist in her time. She illustrated books, was featured on the post of magazines like Scribners and the Saturday Evening Post, and had a syndicated weekly cartoon that was a rival to Little Orphan Annie called “Little Miss Muffet.” She also painted a delightful series of watercolors in what is now a “Fairy Alphabet” book. Here is a copy of one of her magazine covers, very Norman Rockwellesque titled “The End of a Perfect Day” that sits at the entrance to our stairs.

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At the bottom of the stairs and above my desk hang two very important to me works of art.

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One is painted by my mom of her mother praying. Grandma Sayre lived to be 104. She prayed for me every day, and I’m sure much of who I am is due to those prayers. The other painting is by Kyle Ragsdale, the Curator at the Harrison Center for the Arts, and an elder at the church I pastored in Indianapolis, Redeemer Presbyterian. It was given to me as a gift when our family moved to Redmond, WA in 2015. It is a picture from one of our elder’s retreats at the “Palapa” beach house on Lake Michigan. It is a reminder of my dear friends, this band of brothers that I was privileged to walk with for 13 years.

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We are now downstairs, and have turned the corner alcove in which my desk sits, and looking towards the window and balcony.

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The first picture on your right is actually a photograph by my good friend, Paul Baumgarten. It is of an old door and handle. Paul did his graduate work in preserving stained glass windows, he loves old things, and is a gifted photographer. I tried and tried to take a photo of Paul’s photo that didn’t reflect, but because the mat and photo are so dark I could not escape the reflection.

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After Paul’s photography comes this beautiful assemblage of art that we collected while at the Harrison Center.

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I’ll take you through the pieces one by one.

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The first work I purchased from a Harrison Center artist is this exquisite piece by Jan Zoya. I must have been missing the dark, brooding waters of the Pacific Northwest and this piece with sea and moon brought me home.

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This piece by Nicole Caldwell is one of Jenny’s favorite. Nicole was a member at Redeemer, and an graduate student at Herron Art School, and a neighbor of ours. This is her rendition of the Tiffany Stained glass window that used to sit in the First Presbyterian Church (where Redeemer worshipped) and is now housed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Jenny likes texture, and Nicole used corn kernals to highlight the arm of the Angel of the Resurrection.

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These two images are by Kyle Ragsdale. The one on the right is a hip-hop/boy-band nativity scene. The other is a painting of Jackie asleep in my arms holding a heart. Kyle is a significant figure in the Indianapolis arts scene; I love his playfulness and immense creativity. During the different liturgical seasons of the year he would turn the sanctuary in Indianapolis into a visual, symbolic picture, emphasis different views of the great gospel of Jesus Christ.

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This stunning piece is by a friend who passed away, Susan Hodgin. Susan was an incredibly gifted artist who had a studio at the Harrison Center. She nobly battled cancer, and left a sweet daughter and courageous husband behind. We mourn the creativity and beauty that was lost when she left.

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Finally, this painting by my brother Jed. He gave it to me a couple of years ago, and when he did I cried. It is a painting of the hill overlooking the beach where we grew up on Camano Island. I love Jed’s city-scapes, but specially treasure this gift.

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In our downstairs bathroom hangs this fun print of a painting by my great grandmother, Fanny Y. Cory.

As we turn towards the wall full of bookshelves, there is this narrow wall on which I hung three paintings that connect my love for everything water. Jeff Morton, Professor of Art at Covenant College, painted the moon encircled by birds which hangs on the top. Casey Roberts, one of my favorite Indianapolis artists, imagined the dark cliff silhouetted against the night sky. And Jennifer Cooper painted the adorable wooden boats.

We now come to the wall with books and art.

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The first painting is this delightful watercolor of flowers by my dad. It was hung in the family art show the Harrison Center sponsored in October 2014 and I couldn’t resist buying it.

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Next is this watercolor of apples by my sister April which traveled with us to Indy, and now back to the northwest.

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There there is this big watercolor I painted of Zagorsk, the center of Russian Orthodoxy. I spent a couple of months in early 1992 in Moscow with my dear friends and mentors Peter and Anita Deynka.

The following painting has a fun story. It is of a catholic church in Montana. When my grandmother, Fanny, and her cowboy fiance nicknamed “Popsie” eloped, they came to this catholic church and to the priest there and asked to be married. Popsie was catholic, but my great grandma was Anglican. When the priest found this out he said that my grandma needed to become catholic or he wouldn’t marry her, to which she replied, that she wouldn’t do that then asked “Father, do you want us to live in sin?” He did not, so he performed the ceremony :).

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On one of our family vacations in Montana we tracked down this old church and took photographs of the church. This smaller painting of the same church hangs on the wall next to the larger.

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Here is another in the collage of church paintings, it is a church on a snowing day in Russia, a place which is absolutely magical in winter, and which will always have a piece of my heart. Interestingly enough, my son Julian has a passion for international politics, and an interest in Russia in particular.

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This next painting, the Lutheran Church in Conway on Fir Island is dear to my heart, not because I ever attended it, but because her organist, Don Good, was my favorite teacher at Stanwood High School. Don taught drama, and his energy, wit, deep joy, and ability to draw people out of their shell, had a big impact on my life.

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This next painting has always been one of my favorites.

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I painted it in 1992, during a time when I was painting rather seriously. After I married Jenny, I took a year off seminary and lived on Camano Island where I interned at Camano Chapel. During this time I taught art at the Senior Center through Skagit Valley College as well as entering numerous paintings in national shows. This painting titled “My First Ballet” is from a photograph I took at the ballet “Juzelle” in Red Square, Moscow. It is a very dramatic scene where heartbroken and in a fit of madness, Juzelle dances back and forth across the stage. The scene was so stunning, the lighted figures against the dark curtains so dramatic, that I had to paint it. It one a top prize at the San Diego International Watercolor Society Show.

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Last but not least is this oil by my good friend Barb Knuckles, a member of Redeemer in Indianapolis. It is of a part of the War Memorial Monument that sits in the center of Indianapolis. Barb gave it to us as a gift, and it is especially powerful as a picture of peace, of people coming together.

And what can I say of all the other art that hasn’t made it up on our walls in Redmond, because we have a prime place for it in the studio we are building on Camano Island. It includes art from perhaps the most gifted artist who had a studio at the Harrison Center for the Arts, Tyler Meunick. Two of his paintings are reserved for the studio.

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A place in the studio awaits the wonderful hangings created by Chad Campbell. A gift from my friend Aaron Gardner is waiting its spot too. And perhaps my greatest disappoint is that I don’t have an artwork from one of my dear friends in Indy, and super gifted artist, Kipp Normand. But isn’t that the joy and purpose of art after all. One day I will have one of Kipp’s artworks. I wait for that day, and save for it. I can’t wait to have a part of Kipp with me in the place God has called me.

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And that’s the tour of the art in our apartment. Much more, that’s a tour through significant moments in my family’s life and through my life history.

Ant that’s why Goethe was right when he said, “one should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.”

And that’s why you should buy lots of art just like you should buy lots of books. They are like friends, going with you, reminding you of people, and places, and sacred moments. They are like mini-histories, and our lives are the poorer without them.

Illustrating “I Remember Fishing with Dad” with Dad

Now that the children’s picture book that I wrote and illustrated with Dad titled “I Remember Fishing with Dad” is at the printers and due out on December 1st, I’m beginning to think about how to get the word out about the book.

I’ve have two book signings lined up for December: one at the Snow Goose Bookstore in Stanwood, WA on Saturday, December 5th and a second on Friday, December 11th at the Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis.

Returning to the Harrison Center is going full circle because that is where, in 2004, dad and I collaborated on painting many of the illustrations. Dad and mom had come to visit us in Indy for Christmas break I think. At that time, I had just written a draft of the story and had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go with the illustrations.  So I roped dad in to help me. Help me he did!

Joanna Taft and the Harrison Center team let us set up a temporary studio in Gallery #2. There Dad and I went to work.

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Dad was a great sport to help me. His expertise in watercolor painting (although he paints with oil, I prefer his watercolors), his ability to draw the details of salmon fishing, like tying fishing line and cutting herring, and his eye for perspective added so much to the project.

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The whole family stopped by to see our progress. Mom with her camera (that’s who I got these pictures from). Jenny and the kids. You can see how young our kids were in these pictures. I was quite a bit younger too, with much less gray and much more hair :).

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But most of the time it was just dad and I, silent together, like when we fished for salmon. Together in the quiet of Gallery #2, with the only sound the splashing of brushes in water and the rustle of paper, we relived through art what we had lived on the salmon waters of Puget Sound so many years ago.

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I hope that through this story and its art, many parents and their children will see how important it is to make sacred memories together.

Appraisals, Hedges and Sabbaths

Last week the appraisal for my Sunnyshore Studio project came it. The (future) studio and property appraised at 340K, but because it is a “different” kind of building, and not a traditional single family residence, my bank will give me a mortgage of 70% of the loan. That means that I have to bring 60K of cash to the closing, cash that I don’t have. So in God’s providence, we will first need to sell our home in Indy before we have the cash flow necessary to pull the trigger on building the studio.

Meanwhile, I spent a few hours trimming my hedge on my property on Camano. I began this hedge 10 years ago to create a visual and sound shield from the road. It is a “collage” hedge, with different kinds of trees and bushes growing together. I have two cedar trees growing fast which will someday tower above the hedge. And there are an assortment of bushes and trees which I forget the names of, except one, a lilac bush, each bearing its own unique beauty.

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Yesterday I took my first Sabbath since moving to Redmond.  Up till now Jenny and I have been just trying to keep our heads above water with paperwork, new schools and schedules, and trying to get our feet under us in our work.

Sabbath is a rich word, mostly forgotten by my generation, but treasured by those who know its meaning. Sabbath is a rhythm of rest, of remembering, of being rooted in reality. It doesn’t mean sitting around and being lazy. It means doing the things outside of your everyday work that make your heart sing.

Yesterday morning after dropping the kids off at school, Jenny drove me to John and Joyce Sanford’s home in Woodinville so I could borrow Joyce’s car and so that Jenny could have a car to pick our kids up.

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Then I headed north to Camano Island. My first stop was in Stanwood at the Snow Goose Bookstore. I shared with Kristine that I was a local boy, having grown up on the Island, and had come home and had written a children’s book about fishing with my dad, which my dad and I had illustrated. I told her it was coming out in December and asked if I could have a book signing in December. She looked skeptical until she found out my dad was Jack Dorsey and then she said it was a wonderful idea, and she loved his work, and why don’t we plan for a book signing on Saturday, December 5th.

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Then I stopped by the Stanwood Camano News. I asked the receptionist who I should talk to because I have a very big story for the newspaper. She asked if it was local news, or sports, or what. I told her it was Art and Culture News. So she gave me the name of Sarah A. who I will follow up with later.

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Then it was on to the Island, this place of my early years, this place I love: the smells of the fir, the wetness, the Cascades across the bay, I feel it as home deep in my bones.

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Of course, my destination was mom and dad’s house. Dad was out with buddies golfing. So I got to spend some time with mom.

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She has fallen and broken a couple of bones in her shoulder so she is in a sling and she needed me to pull her socks on. I’m not a very good nurse but it was nice to help, and that kind of help of mom is precisely why I came home.

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And as I mentioned above, I spent the late morning and early afternoon trimming the hedge. Then a yummy lunch with mom. This afternoon, I have some details to follow up in regard to getting my well in shape, and my Sunnyshore Studio project.

To have a whole day set aside for these things, things different and apart from my regular work, things that remind me who I am and root me in my calling, this is Sabbath rest. And this is how appraisals, hedges, and sabbaths come together in my mind. In God’s creation, we are given time to work and rest, and we wait on God too, for His timing, for his purposes to be played out in our lives. Work and rest all to His glory.

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One step closer to publishing “I Remember Fishing with Dad”

I’m one step closer to publishing the children’s book I wrote and illustrated with my dad called “I Remember Fishing with Dad”.

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of getting the illustrations completed. I need to give a special shout out to my dad who has worked hard at this. He painted a few new paintings, and tweaked a number of old ones. I’m including one illustration he did just today of seagulls feeding on herring.

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It has been really fun to work with dad, now over many years, on this project.

There have been others who have helped. Among them, Matt Hale who helped design the original cover and layout. My friend, Paul Baumgarten, took all the photos. Over the last couple of weeks he’s worked with my mom, who has been taking photographs of the updated paintings and new paintings and sending them to Paul.

We are shooting to have all the text, bio material, illustrations, in to the publisher before the end of September. The publisher thinks that we should be able to have the books completed by December 1st, just before Christmas and the holidays.

Here is a little preview of the story from the introduction.

My hope in I Remember Fishing with Dad is to show how important sacred memories are in the forming of children. Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote this about good memories in his classic The Brothers Karamazov,

“My dear children, perhaps you will not understand what I’m going to say to you now, for I often speak very incomprehensibly, but, I’m sure, you will remember that there’s nothing higher, stronger, more wholesome and more useful in life than some good memory, especially when it goes back to the days of your childhood, to the days of your life at home. You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since, is perhaps the best education of all.”

Through story and art I weave together the memories of a boy who grew up on an Island in the Pacific Northwest; whose memories form him as the man he is today. I hope many parents will be inspired to also make such sacred memories with their children.

Sunnyshore Studio Project Update…watching and waiting

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People have asked me what is the status on building Sunnyshore Studio?

My answer is as follows…

All the paperwork has been submitted to my banker at Heritage Bank, Rich Olsen. He has asked for an appraisal. Now we are waiting for the appraisal on the land and future building. The amount of mortgage I can get on the project, of course, depends on how high the appraisal comes in compared to the cost of building the studio.  So the appraisal is the big “If” in the equation, the variable, upon which so much hinges. If the appraisal comes in low, then we will need to bring some cash to the deal; if the appraisal comes in high, the mortgage may be able to cover the whole project.

Our cash flow situation is dependent on the sale of our home in Indianapolis. This is in God’s hands, and so all we can now do is wait and watch, pray, and wait.

As this is my first building project, I did not anticipate all the delays that have come along as I wait for my banker to have time to get to this project. But in the end I’m trusting that the Big Picture and Timing of all of this is in God’s hands.

We expect an answer on the appraisal in about 2 weeks. So, more waiting, watching and praying.

And meanwhile, life on the Island goes on as it always does, in its casual, meandering, rhythmic way…

Old dreams can come true

Old dreams can come true.

I shared in an earlier blog that for over a decade I have dreamed of building an art studio on Camano Island to showcase my family’s artistic legacy and support my dad and mom in their later years.

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This week I came across a 2008 notebook our family made on our summer vacation. I discovered in it some sketches I had made of my dream studio, sketches that are eerily like the Studio that Jim Spane is going to build.

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Presently I am finishing getting paperwork to our mortgage banker. Then we will see what the assessed value of the proposed building and property is, and, based on that, the size of mortgage we can get.

I’m definitely on new ground here. I have never had anything this scale built. But I am undaunted. This dream has burned in my heart for over a decade, and, by God’s grace, I will see it through to the end.

After all, old dreams burn deep in the heart, smoldering there unto the appointed time has come.

Our New Home, Riverpark Apartments, Redmond, just a hop, skip and throw from Sunnyshore Studio

Today we heard that our application has been accepted at Riverpark in Redmond. We will be apartment dwellers, at least for the first year, in Redmond.

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We choose Riverpark for its location. It is right next to the Hyatt Hotel where Redeemer Redmond worships. Besides living and worshipping in the same place, we can’t wait to have our first visitors from Indy stay at the Hyatt next door to us.

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Riverpark is also next to the Sammamish River, and a great biking and walking trail called the Sammamish River Trail. I’ve even heard that salmon spawn up this river. And I’m looking forward to that glorious sight.

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Just a few minutes walk from Riverpark is Marymore Park which is King County’s most popular park. More than 3 million people visit annually “to explore Marymoor’s 640 acres of recreational amenities”.

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Of course, moving from a 3 floor Victorian home with a full basement to a 1,485 sq. foot, 2 bedroom + loft apartment means significant downsizing.

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Jenny reminds me that each of the floors of our current home is the same size as our entire Redmond apartment! But we are willing, even excited, to do this because of the strategic opportunity to be in an apartment complex with over 300 other apartments and apartment dwellers. We are excited to be part of the weaving of community in Riverpark.Plus what we give up in home size, we gain in fun amenities which we intend to make the most of including large community room, movie room, rec center, and hot tub (just outside our apartment!).

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And, last but not least, Riverpark is just a hop, skip and throw, a mere hours drive, from my beloved Camano Island, the home of my childhood,and the future home of Sunnyshore Studio.

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Tis the Season for picking wild blackberries on Camano

July is the season for picking wild blackberries on Camano Island.

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July 2014 was an excellent year for wild blackberries on the south end of Camano. Dad stumbled upon the mother lode of wild blackberries on some land south of their house that had been logged a few years ago. He picked 20 gallons.  Mom and dad froze them. They will make their way into about 40 delicious blackberry pies.

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My dad is a master blackberry picker. When I was a boy he taught me the art of blackberry picking, which can be summed up as follows.

First, you must have the right tools.

The most important tool is a gallon pail with a home made wire handle that swings back and forth. This is important because blackberries grow best on terrain that has been logged, rugged terrain, with thickets, nettles, and hidden logs and holes to stumble over. In attempting to get to the best patches the blackberry picker will often have to leap from logs into thickets and brambles not knowing what danger below awaits him. This inevitably results in a good blackberry picker taking one or two stumbles, even falls. The swinging blackberry pail handle allows a picker to fall and yet keep the pale full of blackberries from spilling. I have fallen face first and even rolled, all the while keeping the precious pail of blackberries securely guarded. They are, of course, much more precious than the blackberry picker.

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(My blackberry pail I used this summer was not quite a gallon pail because I was working back to my old form and wanted to start small)

A second important tool is a machete or stick by which to whack nettles out of a way, to make a path through brambles, and to push aside the blackberry vines itself so that you can reach in and pick the ripe blackberries. It is important to point out that one should not expect to pick blackberries all day and not be covered with cuts, scratches, bruises, stings and embedded thorns.

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Second, you must be silent when you are picking blackberries

Blackberry pickers are more fiercely secretive than even fisherman. If you find a good patch of blackberries it is imperative that you keep this patch to yourself. It must be guarded, just like a fisherman guards his secret fishing hole. This requires great discipline. A young boy who has just leapt off a log into a thicket and tumbled face first into nettles must never let out a yell, or shriek, or even a sound of dismay. The only allowance to this rule is if you happen to smash into a hornets nest, then you are allowed to may a small yelp as you run, mainly to warn one’s dad of the impending danger.

Another time that a youngster is allowed to make some noise is if he discovers a specially abundant patch of blackberries, blackberries big and ripe and falling into the hands. Even then the boy or girl is not allowed to yell “Dad, come here, hurry”. Instead, he or she is to make a sound like an eagle cry, which for whatever reason is better than a human voice, and which hopefully the father will recognize as his own child’s. Picking blackberries with dad empowered me to develop a rich vocabulary of eagle and other bird cries which I expect will come in handy some day.

Last July I had a reunion of sorts picking blackberries with Dad

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I spent last July on Camano Island and one day I picked blackberries with dad at his secret mother lode. I found that I had not lost any of my old form, the artistry of blackberry picking. I stumbled but kept every precious blackberry in my bucket. I only let out one whoop and holler to call dad, and hearing his growl “be quiet” quickly reverted back to my eagle cries. But I must confess that I only picked one bucket compared to the two dad picked, and I only picked for one day, while dad went back day after day. But that one day of picking blackberries with dad was special, a day I will never forget, ushering me back into days long ago.

As an emerging expert blackberry picker myself, I would be happy to share my artistry with any friends who are crazy enough to try.

Big News: We are moving to Redmond, WA

This Sunday I shared with my beloved congregation that I had accepted the call to be the pastor of a presbyterian church in Redmond, WA, also named Redeemer.

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My dad grew up on a farm about three miles from Redmond. The fifty acre farm he grew up on is now part of the Microsoft complex.

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Dad went thru Redmond Elementary (grades 1-6) and Jr. High School (grades 7-9), and then attended Lake Washington High School for the 10th and 11th grade. He remembers walking the seven miles home from school after baseball practice in Kirkland. He remembers his Dad taking him fishing on Lake Sammamish.

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They would dock on the west side of the lake, then row to the east side to fish. Dad shot his first duck on Lake Sammamish and he remembers a annual bicycle race around the lake, and how little hydroplanes used to race up the curvy Sammamish slough.

So in a way, I am coming home, back to my roots. My aunt Joann and cousin Beckie live in Kirkland, just down the road from Redmond. When I visited them in January I took this picture from their condo and admired their marvelous collection of my dad’s artwork.

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At the same time we’re leaving home. Indy has become home to us.

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It hurts so bad to say goodbye to our spiritual family here, to our dear friends in the city and in the Indianapolis Public Schools.

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Here is a letter that I wrote to my Redeemer Indy family that shares more of the story.

Dear Redeemer Spiritual Family,

As I write this letter my eyes overflow with tears, tears that flow from my heart that loves you deeply. Over the past 13 years I have never wavered in my commitment to you, to the oaths I took to be your shepherd, nor doubted my call to be your pastor. By God’s grace our lives have been interwoven in community and in service to the city we love. And I have been powerfully shaped by the impact of your lives on mine.

In this letter I want to share with you about the tectonic plates that have shifted in my life.  I find myself surprised, and incredibly sad, to share the news with you that over the last couple of weeks God has been moving, changing and shaping my call in ways I find hard to understand.  In short, I have accepted a call to be pastor of Redeemer Church, Redmond, WA. I am convinced this is God’s calling. I also want to encourage you on a path to process this. Finally, I want to lay out a timetable for our family’s move.

Tectonic Plates and God’s Calling

In February 2002, when I accepted the call to be pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian church, Jenny and I, and our family were clear that God was calling us to Redeemer and Indianapolis, to put our shoulder to the plow with our brothers and sisters in Indy. Even though our families live on the west coast, we burned our bridges. We had no plan to return, and we assumed that we would live the rest of our lives and die in Indy. From the beginning, this put our ministry on the edge; we were going for it, we were all in.

And from the time I accepted the call to Redeemer Indy I never looked up from the plow. There hasn’t been a day that I did not find great joy in my work of sharing the gospel of God’s grace, raising up leaders, forming a community of the gospel, and participating in the suffering and healing of our city. Serving as the lead pastor at Redeemer has been one of the greatest honors and joys of my life. It has been made sweeter to serve alongside the other leaders shoulder to shoulder, my brothers and sisters, who have walked with me, worked alongside of me, borne with my brokenness, and rejoiced in my strengths.

Then on January 8thof this year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This rocked my world. Immediately I thought “I might need to get close to Mom and Dad so that I can help them in their hour of need.” That same day I called my brother Jed, who many of you know is a Staff Leader with Young Life at Arsenal Tech. He said to me, “Jay, I have had just the opposite thought: that mom has prayed for me to be settled in my calling, and I believe my calling is here with the kids at Tech. I know the right thing for me is to be here in Indy, here at Tech.”

For me, my mom’s diagnosis was the first time that I lifted up my eyes from the plow. The first time that I even considered being open to another call that God might have for me.

In December of 2014, I learned that my mentor in Seattle, Rev. Michael Kelly, was filling the pulpit of a church in Redmond, WA, also called Redeemer, whose pastor had taken another call.  At the time I didn’t think anything of it.

After my mom’s diagnosis, it struck me that this might be a potential pastoral position that would be close to my parents (1 ½ hours). But I didn’t follow up with it. In April, I received an e-mail from another pastor from Florida. In it, among other things, he mentioned the pastoral opening in Seattle. I thought to myself, I at least need to look into this. So I called the chair of the pulpit committee and found out that there was just one more week in which they were taking applications. I quickly put my paperwork together and sent it in. At the end of April I was told that the search committee wanted to interview me via skype. A week or so after that interview, I was informed that I was their top candidate and arrangements were made for Jenny and I to visit. On June 18th – 22nd Jenny, Jackie and I flew to Seattle, met with the congregation, and got a feel for Redmond.

Redeemer Redmond was planted about ten years ago, and has been a particular congregation (with its own elders) for 6 years. It had grown to about 125 people, but currently has about 70 people in the congregation. They do not have a building and are currently leasing space in a hotel conference room.  They have one part time staff who is the worship leader.

On Sunday, June 28th, Redeemer Redmond’s congregation voted to extend a call to me, and I’ve accepted that call. My heart and my eyes overflow with tears at the thought of saying goodbye, of the thought on no longer walking and working with you as I have been privileged to do these past 13 years.

Processing together

Let me walk you through some thoughts on how to process with us.

First, I would encourage you to be confident in God’s call. I believe God’s hand is in this, that God is calling us. This gives me a great sense of courage and confidence, in spite of the fact that I am leaving some of my dearest friends, and my life-work behind. I also believe that God will call to Redeemer Presbyterian in Indy the pastor he wants to lead you in this new chapter.

Second, I want you to be absolutely clear that our brothers and sisters, the leaders at Redeemer Indy, have clearly and unanimously said to us that they do not want us to go, that they desire for us to stay. On June 2nd I shared with the elders the process that Jenny and I were in and asked them for their counsel. Over the next couple of days Jenny talked personally to their wives. They have asked hard questions, communicated their strong desire for us to stay, but also released us if this is God’s call on our life.

Third, I want you to mourn and grieve with me. The tears I feel, my heart being ripped out at the thought of not being with you for decades to come is real. I don’t know why God’s call has come at this time in this way. But I know that His call has a cost. It hurts, at the deepest level. And it helps me to know your heart as well, to hold you and cry with you. This communicates to me that our love is real, that the bond we have in Christ has impacted our lives. So I encourage you to feel free to grieve, to mourn, to ask hard questions, to even flail around a bit. I will not hold that against you. I’ve done a good share of weeping, flailing myself. By God’s grace, I will receive it as part of our journey together.

Timeline

Our timeline looks like this. I will be working and preaching the first two Sunday of July. The last two weeks of July I will take vacation to oversee the logistics of selling our house, moving, etc.

I look forward to preaching each week in August. I view these five sermons as something like my last “five words” to my spiritual family in Indianapolis.

On August 20th we will drop Jacob off at Purdue. On August 25th we will drop Julian off at George Mason. School starts in the Redmond School District on September 1st, so somehow Jenny, Judah and Jackie will be in Redmond for the start of school.

I expect that there will times for us to get together to grieve, mourn and celebrate.  I’ll let you know the details of that as they get nailed down.

Conclusion

My Heavenly Father has used you in my life to powerfully shape me. I owe a debt to the Redeemer congregation, Indianapolis, and IPS that I will never be able to repay. Thank you for your presence in my life. I love you. I look forward to the Heavenly Jerusalem where there will be no death, and where God will wipe away all of our tears.

Grace, Jason

 

 

 

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