Friday, November 30, 2007

"Yeah, baby."

This "Yeah, baby" moment is brought to you by the fact that I'm 2.5 lbs from the challenge goal. Ladies (you know who you are) would you care to join me in a shake-your-booty dance? I think you would (you can count it as cardio work.) Heather, feel free to utilize the pole.

(p.s. speaking of the pole, you need to send me that photo again!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

OMG, Becky.

Becky sent me this and if she and Buddy would have pulled this off at their wedding? I would have literally died. But I would have died laughing (and possibly dancing along.)

P.S. Why didn't Rusty and I think of something like this? With so many of our YoungLife kids at our wedding? (I think we could have done justice to the "Fresh Prince" Apache dance.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What was I thinking?

Yeah, so we're doing this thing. On December 8th at 2:00. At my house. Seriously, what makes me think I'm qualified to lead this? I mean, I'm interested. And I was just thinking I'd really like to live in Arizona so I could work outside and make two-story tall metal sculptures. Strictly for the welding aspect of it (who cares what you make, as long as you get to use fire to join metal to metal!) Though I'm not sure what that has to do with anything at all.

So pray for this. For me. And for us, as artists and as believers. I'm not sure how many "us" there will be but even if it's just Jodi and me, we're ready to get this thing going.

I'm honestly afraid once I start talking art and God I won't be able to stop.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh, the humanity!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

...dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!

So this is totally random but I was thinking about "Judgement Day" (capital "J", capital "D") today.  No reason why.  But I was thinking about how when we hear about Judgement Day from the church a lot of times we hear about the wrath of God and people getting what's coming to them and anger and hell and holy crap I'm such a sinner I should repent again just to be safe (seriously, I totally thought that way in jr. high and high school chapel.)

Most of the time I don't think we take time to consider the full reality of judgement day.  I think aside from the anger, there will be sadness and disappointment and "what could have been" on God's part. If you think about it, God is the only one who knows what each person is capable of in their most Christ-like form. What each person could do if they trusted Him and were free to become the people He meant for them to be and to do the things they were meant to do.  And by that I don't mean becoming missionaries or whatever, but just existing in their everyday life with peace and the joy that comes from knowing you're going to be ok in the end.

For God, I imagine a big part of Judgement Day won't be about, "You should have bowed down to Me!" as much as it will be about God looking at each person, each creation He loved into existance and seeing whether they met their potential by deciding to give themselves back to Him or not. When you look at it that way? It changes everything about Judgement Day and whether it's the day when an angry, egotistical God will wipe out those who didn't obey or whether it's the day when a loving Creator has to look at each of His creations and say to some of them, with the heart of a father, "You could have been so much more. You could have been everything you were meant to be.  You could have had the joy and peace you were always searching for!" then have to decide their fate.

I'm sure we will see God's anger on Judgement Day because the bible does talk about the "real wrath of God kinda stuff!"  And wrath is pretty big time anger. And that's understandable seeing as how some of those who chose to not trust in Him decided to go all out and turn their backs in a big way. So, yeah, I'm not denying God's anger. But I think a lot of times in Christian circles it seems to just boil down to good people vs. bad people.  When really we're all bad people and some of us just decided to give it up to God instead of believing we are capable of anything real on our own.  I think to exclude the omnipresent love of God, even during a discussion of his wrath on Judgement Day, is to paint an incomplete picture of everything God truly is.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

I didn't know.

When we were in Maryland I would get really homesick sometimes in the summer. I would go out to the van and turn on the radio because we could get WLW pretty clearly and I would list to Marty and Joe and feel that connection to my home and family again I tried to explain to Liam that Marty and Joe are the best baseball announcing duo ever, not just for their play-by-play but also for their lively tomato discussions. But to be honest, it was also my way of sharing Grandpa Joe with Liam. I was three months pregnant with Liam when Grandpa died. It amazes me that someone so familiar to me, someone that meant the world to me is, to Liam and Sean, just some guy in old pictures.

I didn't know about Joe Nuxhall. I knew he was back in the hospital but hadn't heard anything since yesterday afternoon. We've had meetings and conferences since Wednesday to get Sean ready to start first grade next Monday. I just now got around to checking the news. Obviously it's not as bad as when Grandpa died, but it's bad. Worse than I thought, even. It's odd how a total stranger can be such a huge part of your memories of growing up. Marty and Joe were background noise every summer in St. Bernard when I was growing up. Most anyone who grew up in Cincinnati would recognize their voices. I'm so sad that one of them is now gone.

Led Zeppelin

... is now on iTunes. I am a happy girl.

One of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs ever (give or take three or four or ten):

P.S. there is no video, just the cover art while the song plays.

Heal the scar

I'm not a Point of Grace fan (sorry... though I'm pretty sure those of you who know me aren't the least bit surprised by that.)  But I have to admit I'm a big fan of these lyrics: 
I used to pray that you would take this shame away
Hide all the evidence of who I’ve been
But it’s the memory of
the place You’ve brought me from
that keeps me on my knees
even though I’m free

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
Heal the wound but leave the scar
Thank you, Laurie, for your latest LGD email which brought these lyrics to my attention (Laurie makes beautiful jewelry and sells it here, on her site. You really need to take a look and support an artist!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Regarding the other blog.

Just an FYI to anyone who reads both: I've started posting separate posts over there as of today. That's the dedicated Faith & Art blog and the more solid this idea gets the more I'll be separating from this blog. At some point (hopefully soon) this blog will just be personal again and the art blog will be reserved for those ideas and projects and challenges.

If you've enjoyed the art stuff and spiritual stuff regarding that? Please continue to read over there! Regardless of whether you feel like you're artistic or not. It doesn't matter! (And that's the premise of the first class I want to do here soon!)

Thanks for reading, either way. I hope it's making some sort of difference.

Chasing the Lion

You know how sometimes you pray about something and you get this answer that makes you feel like God's right in your face saying, "You called?" and it skeeves you out a little because you know He never leaves you but HOLY COW?! Well, here's God in my face:

Most of us want our opportunities gift wrapped. We want our lions stuffed or caged or cooked medium well and served on a silver platter. But opportunities typically present themselves at the most inopportune times as big, hairy, audacious problems, but lion-chasers don't see problems. They see 500-pound opportunities!

I love the way the Chinese language captures the two sides of this truth. The word "crisis" is made up of two characters - one means danger and the other means opportunity.

Problems are opportunities in diguise.

Chase the Lion
- Mark Batterson

P.S.? I am so tempted to run out and get a tattoo of "Crisis" in Chinese (and I would. If it weren't for the possibility of ending up with something totally different without knowing it and spending the rest of my life with something like "bald monkey" or "sour feet" erroneously translated and tattooed instead.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More art talk?

This is a cross post to the art blog as I try to figure out how to get this going...

When I first started the Faith & Art blog I had posted a few challenges to make people try to think outside of their own little frame of reference as well as to help get your mind going. Things were hectic, like I said in that last post here. I didn't give the faith and art idea as much attention as it deserved because I was just thinking of it as a hobby or an interest that didn't require much more than the extra few minutes I had after living my real life (a.k.a. doing laundry, feeding kids, cleaning bathrooms...)

But over the last few weeks I've been questioning some of why I believe what I believe. And I've come to the conclusion that God was hitting me with those questions to help me realize some things about myself and how I see Him and the world he created. I can't really explain it so I'll use a very generalized illustration: say you have a real estate agent, an accountant and an artist looking at a house. The real estate agent would note things like the location, the square footage and the school district. The accountant might pay closer attention to the cost of the house and what that entails, the taxes, and the property values. The artist would probably notice things like the architecture, the details like the fixtures and the light coming in from the windows. Would any of these three be more correct in their opinion than the other two? Are any of the opinions more valuable than the others? No. You could say that school district and location are most important but even in the best location/district, if that house is overpriced or overtaxed or if it's in horrible condition or just plain ugly? It won't sell, or if it does it'll take a lot longer. If that house is cheap and has a tax abatement, is the accountant more correct? No. Cheap and few taxes don't make up for ugly and being located next to a garage dump or subway system. If the house is horrendously decorated and totally box-shape like every other house on the block, is that enough to make the artist's opinion the winner by saying no one would value it because it's too horrible to look at or live in? Nope. One man's box is another man's mid-century dream. Spruce that baby up with some personality and its value lies inside anyway.

So what's the point of all that? Well, I'm the artist. And for a long time I believed that the artist's opinion is less important the accountant (or the business man or the scientist or pretty much anything else.) I'm not sure why, maybe because as a society we put a lot of value on technology and moving things forward and advancing toward the next horizon. Art is very much not about that. It's the opposite of that. An artist has to listen and form a vision of their work. I mean, it's not always quiet and reverant. Half the time I'm getting a vision for a project my iPod is blasting and my mind is racing. But it's not a race from beginning to end. It's more like when my kids are wound up and running around the yard in circles and running and screaming and laughing and ending up in a big pile in the middle with a big smile on their face. It's not about moving things forward. It's about moving things around. Looking at things differently instead of always looking ahead. And that's hard. Sometimes it seems like a waste of time, especially in our culture.

Ok, so I'm owning my identity and taking it more seriously. In our culture today? We need more art. More vision. More creation. And I think we, as artists, are called to help people take a break and see things differently and connect with our creator.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

So we're in a little bit of a crisis. My school loans, which were in forebearance or deferred or something are suddenly not. The paperwork I faxed to one company was supposed to get sent to another and we just got a letter that said we have to start paying now. And by the way, the education loans? Are in default. So of course, I panic. I call and explain that I faxed the forebearance paperwork and the woman very kindly (seriously, she was nice) tells me that happens alot when the loans get sold or consolidated and paperwork goes to one office when it should have gone to another by then. But there's nothing they can do about it once it gets to this point. It's a government loan and there's no middle ground. She'd like to lower the interest rate but they can't. She'd like to give me lower montly payments, but again, she can't. And she sounded like she really meant it, too, which helped. But still.

Soooo. So. We don't have an extra $500+ a month lying around. We had planned to leave the loans in forebearance until the boys were older and I could either go back to work full time or by then have some sort of art thing going on that was able to bring in more money on a constistant basis. Our last three or four years were filled with this and this and this and some of this, so our finances have been kind of just coasting. We're blessed. God has taken care of us, and He will continue to do so. I'm sure of that.

But we're faced with a decision right now. Do I try to find a full-time job and put the boys in school latchkey programs? I'm not against working full-time if I have to. I'm not sure how I feel about the before and after school care, though. Liam is just now getting into a groove with school and the supplement he's taking to help with his OCD. I'm not real big on the idea of throwing another obstacle in his path. Not yet, anyway. He'll have enough obstacles as it is. And besides, I already have something on my mind that I really feel like God has put there. I'm just not sure what to do with it.

This faith and art thing. I'm going to try to write something else here in a bit to explain more about this first try I want to do. Something that explains where I'm coming from and explains what that first class/meeting/get-together would be. I believe that if God put this desire in me and gave me the abilities I have and even after praying the idea has gotten stronger and more fully formed instead of going away? Then I need to act on it. I need to "chase the lion" (thanks, DC theater church guy.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

House nonsense.

Most of you remember the Maryland Kitchen Fisasco of '05 (that should be read aloud as "Ought Five." Thanks, Grandma.)

So it should come as no surprise to you that I can't keep my hands to myself and leave well enough alone already (you know you'd worry about me if I didn't tear something apart.) First, I moved the thermostat. It was originally in the living room (and it was one of the old school round dial thermastats that was lucky to within ten degrees of what it was set for.)

Anyway, the living room has french doors. Which makes it a really bad place for the thermostat. So I moved it. It is now located in the hallway. Yay!

Then, I went all kinds of wiring crazy and did this:

I couldn't help it! The old switches and outlets were nasty looking. Off white and slightly dirty and painted over in places. And the two switches that control the foyer light were just too annoying (only one worked and it only worked if the other one was in a certain position.) So you see, I had no choice. Plus now we have nice clean rocker switches and new outlets with nice new switchplates (the brushed nickel plates are only in the foyer - the rest got plain, pretty white.) Rusty and I stood at either switch and switched them on and off for five minutes after I finished just because we could. The poor neighbors probably wondered if we had installed a strobe light. Or were doing morse code.

Then there was the day I went to replace a bulb in one of the lights in the upstairs hallway. We always wondered why they didn't have all the sockets filled and now we know - because when you tried to remove an old, burned out bulb? It just twisted and twisted until it broke off, leaving the old bulb roots stuck in the socket (really, what would you call them? "Roots" is totally fine.) Anyway, the hallway was so stinkin' dark I had to do something. So I replaced the lights. Oh, look! There's one now...

The boys acted like blind men who'd just been healed when they saw these - "I can see! I can see!" Poor little light-deprived dudes. Like little naked mole rats.

Anyway, I knew some of you would worry if you didn't hear I was busy tearing stuff apart and putting it back together (Jodi.) But don't worry, this isn't a sign that we're getting ready to sell the house (I promise, Jodi.) It would just be nice to live in a house we fixed up more than a few months so I'm hoping to get more switches and outlets replaced, replace the dining light fixture, and get Rusty to set aside a day that we can put up crown molding in the rooms that don't already have it (Rusty's spoiled by my handyman ways.) Then I'll invite you over to enjoy it with us, Jodi!

(Ok, you've already been here. But still.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More music videotape love.

More of the songs from that 1980-something video tape:

I never claimed the videos were all that good. But the songs are still pretty great.

Art thing?

A lot of you have heard me talking or read my rambling about this Faith & Art idea. The store and teaching classes and whatever. It sounds great and I've been praying about it and I've come to the conclusion that God doesn't want me to start big. He wants me to just start where I am.

So here's the deal. Anyone who's interested in getting together and making a mess, talking, hanging out and figuring out how this works is more than welcome. Our basement is as good a place as any and if we move the couches and the foosball table and fold up the treadmill we can get a decent number of people down there. What would we do? Well, I have an idea that's come together over the last week of praying about this. It would kind of be a "class" I guess, but more open. I'll lead it but I don't want to teach - I want to bounce ideas off of you and get ideas back. I'm in it to learn just like everyone else.

The premise is this: Art is a form of worship. Whether you knit, paint, scrapbook, stamp, whatever. It's using your body and your abilities to glorify God. Some of us aren't comfortable putting ourselves out there in some ways but give us a blank page and we'll be busy for hours. But I know that scares some of you "non-artists." And that's the second part of this. Some who consider themselves "non-artistic" would be surprised to find out this isn't about technical ability. This is about seeing yourself and God and your relationship with Him in a way you wouldn't normall think about. The project I'd like to work on the for first try wouldn't necessarily be what some people would consider "art." But it's very visual and would give you something tangible to take home with you. And "icon", as Madeleine L'Engle might describe it. Something to trigger your brain into automatically remembering God's love for you.

So that's the deal. You wouldn't need a ton of supplies or have to spend much money for this (maybe $10 total, if that?) And I'm not sure I could pull it together before Christmas but if we can, then that's fabulous. Otherwise, I'm aiming for mid-January or later. Either leave me some comments or email me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Like a challenge?

How many of you cringe when you think of the holidays and the food and the decorations and the parties and the food and the food and some more food? Yeah, me too. I've lost some weight since the spring but didn't really try too hard over the summer. I didn't gain but didn't lose anything else. I was pretty active up until our Disney trip so even without the loss? I have gone down a size. Which is awesome. But again, haven't really put much effort into paying attention to what I'm eating. Which is stupid considering the whole "I'm on medication for glucose problems" thing. Good one.

Anyway, so last week I was at Old Navy and tried on a pair of really cute cords. And? They were too big. Holy crap, people. I fit into a size I haven't worn since this PCOS* stuff started. I swear, seeing that smaller size on the tag? Was like smoking crack. Now I'm all about the smaller size (and no. I did not buy the smaller size. Because though they were cute? I failed to notice that they were "lowest rise." And there is no need for "lowest rise." Because no one needs to see the bits that are exposed when one bends over in "lowest rise.")

So. Now I'm back on the wagon as far as putting some effort into it. I mean, I'm proud of myself for not gaining anything over the summer. But there's more work to do. And if I don't get some sort of grip on it now then the holidays will be disasterous and that smaller size ("lowest rise" or not) will be just a dream. I cannot allow that to happen. So what am I doing about it? I'm harrassing my friends about it. Of course.

I have emailed a challenge to some of my friends and announced that I'm trying to lose ten more pounds by Christmas. That's just about two months and very do-able. If I lose more, than yay for me because I have more than ten to lose overall anyway. But ten is a good number. And once it turns competitive? Then there is no choice but to do it because the alternative is too humilitating. Which is why I'm posting it publicly here. If you're interested in joining the fun, let me know. There are gift cards and mail love included.

*PCOS = Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a.k.a. "Pain in my ass" and reason I'm on the Metformin.)
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