Category Archives: Art

Daddy

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February 13, 1933 — December 14, 2014

My dad was an amazing man.

He was a charmer, a singer, an artist, a soldier, a director, a provider, a comic, a gardener … and my teacher.

For most of my life, Dad was my inspiration. From grade school he encouraged me to hone my artistic abilities. He was a professional artist.

Dad saw beauty everywhere and much of the time it brought tears to his eyes. He had an uncanny, God-given ability to paint landscapes. He was also one of the few truly talented calligraphists in the country.

He was a man of faith.

I wrote this poem for his birthday in 2006 …

 

I remember watching Dad
When I was only nine,
Creating pictures for the news
And adverts for the Times.

He inspired me to watch and learn,
To see beauty everywhere.
He gave me guidance as I tried
To express myself with care.

As we traveled on vacations
He pointed out the sights;
Showing much appreciation
For the expression of God’s might.

The waterfalls, the sparkling streams,
The chipmunk on the wall,
Were shown to me through his eyes
As we walked to view them all.

The mighty oak reaching to the sky
With gnarled limbs and shade;
Dappled sunlight shining through,
Creating wonder with all God made.

I thank you, Dad, for inspiring me
To see beauty in the world;
I feel a fullness, a breadth of wonder
You helped me to unfurl.

 

It’s not good-bye, Daddy, just farewell.

I know you are living the best life yet…see you soon.

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The Grace of Catastrophe

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After seeing my favorite opera on the Big Screen yesterday,  “Les Miserables,” I have been singing Fantine’s song and thinking of Jean Valjean’s choices in life.  I read Les Miserables while taking a Humanities course in college.  I fell in love with Jean Valjean, if it’s possible to love a fictitious character.  He is a type of Christ, being willing to step into our mess and carry us through to life (think sewer scene here).  So many fantastic metaphors in that story!  No wonder, outside of the Bible, we’re told Les Miserables is the next favorite story of God’s redemptive power. 

It brought to mind this article I’d bookmarked months ago.  What happens when life becomes messy?  Does grace cover catastrophe?  Oh, yes!  Read on, if you need some insight. THIS is what we can learn, if willing, through the messiness of life:

Life in the Midst of Mess

Jan Winebrenner

What We Really Believe

A. W. Tozer wrote, “The difference between a great Christian life and any other kind lies in the quality of our religious concepts . . . i.e., what we think of God, what we believe about Him.”

Nothing so challenges us to examine what we believe about God like catastrophe.

That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. . . . Often only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.

We face difficulty, and we have to ask:
Do we really believe God is strong and faithful?
We face pain and illness, and we wonder:
Is He as good as I’ve always been told to believe?

Death comes, and weeping, and we ask: Is heaven a reality? Is prayer effective? Does God really hear? The struggles and disasters of our lives prompt us to ask these questions, and dozens more. Every tragedy, every crisis, offers us this:

It can be a means of grace—an instrument used by God by which we can cease floating passively on all manner of external attractions. It is by the grace of catastrophe that people sometimes come to themselves and see what is before them as if for the first time. Catastrophe can, like a mighty wind, blow away the abstracting veils of theory and ideology and enable our own sovereign seeing.  ~Eugene Peterson

It is the testimony of the ancients, as well as contemporary saints, that the greatest lessons of faith have been learned against the backdrop of suffering. The theology we say we believe takes root in soil watered by tears and bears fruit in lives characterized by peace and righteousness, lives that delight in the person of God Himself.

The “grace of catastrophe” comes through in places where our theology is tested, our faith forged, our knowledge of God made personal and practical, and our love for Him impassioned.

On the Brink

John Piper wrote, “Every moment in every circumstance we stand on the brink between the lure of idolatry and the delight of seeing and knowing God.”

Our stance is never more precarious than when we are in pain
—any kind of pain.
The voice of God whispers in our souls, “Love Me, worship Me, trust Me.”

But His soft words are hard to hear over the raucous voices in our culture and in our own hearts—voices that shout at us to berate God, to ignore Him and move on in search of other comforts, if there be any—any that don’t wear off after a few minutes or hours.

Still, Jesus calls us to come close, to cuddle in His love and rest in the certainty of His goodness and His sovereign power. He invites us to take comfort in all that He has promised to be to us—savior, friend, healer, lover.

This is the challenge we face with each day as we step out into life.

Will we seek God and take our refuge in Him
when our path is littered with broken dreams?
Or will we turn elsewhere?

We have only these two options when catastrophe strikes. If we choose God, then catastrophe becomes for us a special grace-gift, ushering us into the place where we can experience God in ways we never before imagined. We find ourselves poised on the brink of life’s greatest discovery:

that God is the ultimate presence in the universe, and that knowing Him, interacting with Him, by faith, is more satisfying, more exhilarating than anything the human heart ever hoped for or imagined.

(Go here to read more…)

O Holy Night

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OHOLYNIGHT

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

A Christmas Prayer by Max Lucado:

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children


New Year New Look

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I like it. It’s creative and bold.

I’m feeling a bit creative and am learning to be bold again.

I think I’ll stick with it for a while.

Change can be very good.

New quote on the fridge:

just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
it became a butterfly…

God As a Man

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While many are busy trying to set forth satisfactory definitions of the word “faith,” we do well to simply consider that believing is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus! It is lifting the mind to “behold the Lamb of God,” and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous Person, quietly and without strain.
Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window. I would emphasize this one great volitional act which establishes the heart intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. So, faith is a redirecting of our sight, getting God in our focus, and when we lift our inward eyes upon God, we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us!  ~A.W. Tozer
 
God may thunder His commands from Mount Sinai and men may fear, yet remain at heart exactly as they were before. But let a man once see his God down in the arena as a Man–suffering, tempted, sweating, and agonized, finally dying a criminal’s death–and he is a hard man indeed who is untouched.
~J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small

So, my dear Christian friends,
take a good hard look at Jesus.
He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe.
~Hebrews 3:1

A Baby Changes Everything

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(keep clicking…eventually you’ll get to the video. i could’ve put up a different version, but this one had the most poignant video, imo.)

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what’s to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring on her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

The man she loves she’s never touched
How will she keep his trust?
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
Ooh, she cries
Ooh, oh

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can’t stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel it’s coming soon
There’s no place, there’s no room
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
And she cries!
Oh, she cries

Shepherds all gather ’round
Up above the star shines down
A baby changes everything

Choir of angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything
Everything, everything, everything

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

My whole life
Has turned around
I was lost
But now I’m found

A baby changes everything,
A baby changes everything…