Illustration Friday Topic : Worn

I know i know!!!! you are all probably tired of my drawing houses, its kind of my latest default, but i really wanted to draw a dilapidated house for this illustration friday topic. This is was done in under an hour, but not sure how long exactly, might have only been 30 or 40 minutes,i'm not entirely sure. Had my first illustration job today to be published in a news paper. If any of you get the montclair times be on the look out for it, it can be seen below. If anybody has any requests out there for more stuff, feel free to shoot me some ideas. having a little blank canvas syndrome lately, i think i'm going to continue on this house binge. The houses i have been drawing are fun but they arent really pushing the shapes far enough i think. I want to bump up the mass and shape of the houses so they get really exaggerated, then once i'm satisfied i will move onto some finished house pieces, or something all new all together. Thanks for looking, and reading...if you read this.

Oh yeah, does it bother anyone else when people post artwork they did previously for new IF topics...i feel like you should do a drawing illustrating the topic..not just find something to post.

If.... Then...

This spring and summer, the girls in our small group are working through Beth Moore's study on Esther. It is awesome. I am learning a ton and being extremely challenged.

Last week's lesson was no exception. It was really challenging. You know... that uncomfortable "I know she's right but wish she wasn't" challenging? Yeah... that kind.

Before this study, I wasn't too familiar with the book of Esther. But I love it. It's like watching a movie unfold on the big screen... there's passion, there's rage, and there's divine intervention. It is actually difficult for me to not read ahead! I want to!

We're at the part in Esther after King Xerxes gave Haman his signet ring, and in turn, Haman issued a decree to kill all the Jews in Susa about 11 months later. Unbeknownst to the King, Esther is Jewish. So, Mordecai, Esther's cousin who raised her after she became an orphan, is one of the King's guards and catches wind of this decree. He sends one of the eunuchs to Esther to tell her this news, asking her to approach King Xerxes' and ask for mercy on the Jews' behalf. Esther retorts that she can't approach the throne unless he calls for her... otherwise he could sentence her to death. Mordecai retorts back that basically she needs to, to not think for a second that because she's the queen that she would escape death... that perhaps she is in a position of power for "such a time as this." So, Esther tells Mordecai and the Jews to fast for three days, and that she will too. She then says that she will then go to the King and, "If I die, I die." (Paraphrase of part of Esther 3 and Esther 4.)

The "If I die, I die" statement is what Beth Moore stopped and really settled on. She started talking about Esther's fear, and the fears we have in our own lives. In the study, she had us complete "if, then" statements regarding our fears. For example, one of mine was:

"If I get pregnant again and we lose another child, then I don't know how I could go through this again."

She then said that statement in her video that gripped me. I knew she was right, but given the circumstances that have unfolded in my life over the past two years, it was really hard to hear:

"God doesn't want us to trust Him that He won't let it [the thing in your if, then statement] happen; He wants us to trust HIM."

Boy did that put some things in perspective... uncomfortably, but it did. It solidified for me the fact that God could let it happen again, just like He could not let it happen again... but at the end of the day, He is still God, He is still sovereign, and He is still good... regardless of how I feel and regardless of my circumstances. It made me realize that I need to have a mind and heart shift in what my hope rests in... that it needs to be in God alone. Sure, I can hope to bring home a healthy baby... but those other hopes need to be in their proper place... secondary... in light of my hope in God.

So, Beth Moore had us rethink our "if, then" statements to be "If _____, then GOD" and to really explore what it means for God to be God if any of those "ifs" were to come true. I know that God would carry us through it again, and I know He would use it for His glory and a greater good than I might be able to see or comprehend.

But I still have much more thinking to do on all of that.

I think it's no coincidence that the cornerstone verse that Spencer and I chose for Isaac's Golf Tournament is this:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit." ~ Romans 15:13

It's not "as you trust that He will not let the 'unthinkable' happen" or "as you trust that He will allow your life to be comfortable and free from pain..." It's "as you trust in Him." Why? So that you may overflow with hope. Hope is found in trusting in God alone... not trusting in what He will act in the way that WE desire.

I am so thankful for the truth of God's word... for the things that are sure, solid, and true. So I would just encourage you... place your trust in the One is unchanging, the One who is true. He is where true hope is found.

Kirby Kachina

Yesterday's "Doodle Penance" post got me so fired up that I didn't stop doodling.

I was looking at those photos of the mini-kachina statues* and couldn't keep myself from drawing this.

Tell me you wouldn't subscribe to a comic that starred that guy. Or featured him as a regularly recurring villain.

Let's call him Tokomaq, since "The Living Dynamo" is already taken.

All right, all right...

*I bought the pink-headed one that sort of resembles a dressed-up "Angry Charlie," by the way.

Rhodes Van Note Advertisement

Here is some progress on a advertisement im doing for a real estate company. The ad will run in the montclair times. enjoy!

Please Pray-- baby Megan Grace

Putting my most recent post in hiatus until tomorrow to post this instead.

My friend Amber, who I have had the privilege of communicating with via phone and e-mail for the past 4 months or so, and who I have mentioned on here and have asked you all to pray for before, delivered her daughter, Megan Grace, this morning at 4:34 am. Megan Grace weighed in right at 5 pounds. She had her dad's hair and her mommy's feet. Megan Grace passed away 10 minutes after delivery via c-section.

Megan Grace was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, type II at about 20 weeks gestation. There are various types of osteogenesis imperfects ranging from mild to severe; type II is considered fatal.

Amber was due until August 2, but because of Megan Grace's condition, developed a few complications with her pregnancy that caused her to come sooner. Though today's delivery wasn't completely unexpected, it was much sooner than Amber and her husband Steve would have hoped.

Please keep Amber and Steve, as well as the rest of their family in your prayers. Amber hasn't posted an update on her blog yet, but you're welcome to still leave a comment there on her most recent post, or here in the comments section. Any comments left here I will forward to her via e-mail.

Thank you for praying for this amazingly brave mom and dad.

Doodle Penance: "make your own kirby character"

Today's "Doodle Penance" asks a question similar to one we've answered before. This time, the google query we missed was "make your own kirby character."

I said before that Ed Emberley is probably the first place to stop for these "how to draw" questions, but there's a big gap between Emberley's design sense and Jack Kirby's, so let's try to approach the question of Kirby's character design. It's a huge topic, actually, and looking at Kirby's monster comics will certainly give you a different set of examples from the ones you'd see in The Eternals or The Demon.

But let's try to generalize, working mainly with Kirby's best-known work, in the superhero genre.

Even here, there's more than one type of Kirby character:

(Not pictured: alien legionnaires, terrified bystanders, buxom dames with faces like dinner plates, crusty old guys, eldritch freakouts, etc.)

Let's suppose you're thinking about a heroic character, someone on the periphery of your main tale, but a fellow you could trust with interstellar patrol duty. You're going to need some headgear, and here you have plenty of options.

In general, I try to think of kachina designs when I'm thinking about Kirbyesque design elements.

Good design motifs include raised discs, sunbursts with triangular teeth, branching horns or forks, rectangles the shape of a Pink Pearl eraser, and shiny parts. As ever, spot blacks sell the drawing. Don't be afraid to lay down the ink.

It's tempting to put just as much design insanity into the rest of the costume as you see in the hat. But I think that simplicity is a good rule here. Remember that when you start drawing this guy, there's going to be a lot of bending and folding, and a lot of distortion due to perspective. A simple bodysuit, maybe with a few bold patterns, is what you want here.

So your next step is to start assembling the various parts. Try to keep a design "theme" going: if there are dots or circles in one place, bring them back again elsewhere.

Here's a fellow I came up with, and a hastily colored version of him in a more Kirby-style pose. Anyone have a name for this guy?

Mike, what do you have this week?

—Why, I have my own Kirby character, of course. Like you, I was puzzled at first by the sheer variety of Kirby designs available, but I decided to stick with what I know best, which is Kirby art from the first hundred issues of Fantastic Four as reproduced in cheap black-and-white editions, so here's my quick black-and-white drawing of a would-be Inhuman named Handy:

I worked from a few typical Kirby design principles:

1) Avoid drawing ears where possible.
2) Put the character's initial on the costume, even if character is from outer space or otherwise unlikely to use the Roman alphabet.
3) Hunch 'em up.
4) Shady characters have wide mouths.
5) Squared-off digits.

And since I was thinking of the Inhumans:

6) Exaggerate one trait or physical feature.

The only problem with my choice of exaggerated feature, Handy's hands, is that it's easily mistaken for the extreme foreshortening also typical of Kirby poses. But I assure you that his hands are not meant to be that close to you, the viewer: they're just big-ass hands.

A runrant caused by runner's high

I'll just be honest get ready how about I just say it, I hate weekends, I hate the crowds of worms that poke out of their earth holes and roam up and down the sidewalk for no reason, standing on street corners for no reason, going in and out of establishments for no reason and making eye contact with me when I run by them for no reason, eye contact for no reason, absent five days then suddenly showing up in my world like they own it. I want there to be less of them, I want there to be less people, same city but less people, less blacks, less whites, less men, less women, less everyone so I can breathe my own air not theirs and I need a lot of air to breathe because I'm jogging. Misanthrope, agoraphobic, maybe maybe maybe but I like weekdays, weekday mornings, early-early monday mornings when everything is just barely open and you'd have to be crazy to be out and around, when the population level is just right because it's just me.

Since this is not the case I jog around the far outskirts of my neighborhood, swapping sidewalks back and forth, dodging purposeless pedestrians like asteroids, crows follow me on the telephone lines and caw at me for no reason, I stand on a bridge while a train blasts by under my feet and stare down its smokestack into its fiery guts just before the smog cooks my face, I think about jumping down onto it spystyle or maybe just drizzling Pollock paint onto the boxcars as they pass, then I jog home while old ladies stare at me from their living room, I jog all the way home, pausing only to meow at cats.


Here is a link to an article in the New York Times regarding the Mad River Valley in Vermont where our son, Josh, and his family live. The above pic is in the article and Josh passes this farm every morning on the way to work. Josh's office is in the General Wait House which is mentioned in the article.

Walking With You~ Waiting

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog. This 2nd week we are to share our experience after we heard the news that changed our lives.
This process was, in some ways, two-fold for us. I remember going in for a heartbeat check on Monday, April 21, 2008. I had been concerned about a sudden drop in my pregnancy symptoms, and with having had a missed miscarriage at 13 weeks just a few months prior, I wanted to make sure everything was okay.
When the nurse couldn't find Isaac's heartbeat on the doppler, they immediately sent me for an ultrasound, which is when Isaac's cystic hygroma and omphalocele were discovered. When the ultrasound tech and my OB were explaining what these were, I just felt so angry. I was already so hurt because of my miscarriage (which was a random chromosomal issue), and I just couldn't believe that there could be something wrong with this baby, too. We quickly headed over to a meternal-fetal medicine group to meet with a genetic counselor and to have a CVS performed. At that point, we were being told things like, "a 10% chance of survival" and "even then, we don't know what the baby;s quality of life would be." We waited a few days for the CVS results, and learned that Isaac's chromosomes were completely normal. We also learned that Isaac was a boy.
At this point, I really thought God was going to perform that miracle we had already started praying for... that it would be a long road of surgeries and medical intervention for Isaac, but that he would ultimately be okay.
A span of about 8 weeks passed, this time in sort of "limbo" where the severity of the cystic hygroma and omphalocele, among other things, had yet to be determined.
It was our June 17, 2008 visit to Children's National Medical Center that included several prenatal evaluations and consultations with carious specialists where we were told, "I am sorry... but your son's condition is fatal."
I really don't remember much about that day past hearing those words. I know we consulted with a genetic counselor, and I know I held back the tears long enough to make it to the car. Truthfully, I think it was shock more than anything else. My head was pounding, and my world felt like it had just unraveled. Several family members had asked me to call them after the appointments, and I am sure that what they heard when I called was more like a series of groans and sobs rather than an informative, coherent explanation.
By now, three different doctors had suggested terminating my pregnancy; that really wasn't an option for us. We know that the Lord created Isaac just as he was. We know that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. We know that the Lord is the giver of life, and that it's not our place to determine when Isaac's life would end.
And so the waiting began... and we didn't know how long we'd be waiting. We were told that Isaac could pass away any time in utero, that he could pass away at birth, or that he could be born and live a little while. Deep down we knew that God was capable of a fourth option: that Isaac could live. I think the uncertainty of it all was difficult... being excited for each ultrasound (and I had many!) and getting to see our little guy, but not knowing if his heart would still even be beating.
It was difficult to walk this road of maintaining a balance of an acknowledgement of Isaac's fatal diagnosis, but still having hope in what God could do. So, we decided to not set up a nursery or any of those things; we knew that if God did grant us that miracle we, and so many of you, had been praying for, then we'd be able to get a car seat, a bassinet, and a few things we needed in time. Instead, we wanted to focus our time on making memories while Isaac was still with us in the womb, and making the most of the time we did have.
So we took Isaac on hikes, to the pool, and to the ocean where I would jump waves with him and sit and watch the sun rise in the morning... telling him all about the colors and the clouds in the sky, the seagulls, and the crashing waves. We took him to a football game, and he seemed to get really excited when the drum line would play! As I wrote my daily letter to Isaac, I played music to him each morning, learning that he seemed to like songs with just a few instruments rather than many; and I drank lots of seltzer water, because not only did I like it, but it made Isaac kick and wiggle a lot... and I just loved knowing that he was so alive.
I wanted to walk this journey as a mom who was (and still is) proud of her son. While I wanted people to understand, I didn't want their pity. And most of all, I wanted to walk in a way that brought glory and honor to our Father in heaven.
As Isaac's birthday drew near, we spent a lot of time looking for the perfect blanket, the perfect outfit, and gathering all kinds of things to make memories with him that day. We knew that, barring a miracle, we only had one chance with it all... and we wanted it to be just right for him. It turned looking for "baby stuff" into something extraordinary for us.
We were, and continue to be, blessed by an absolutely incredible support system of people who have been the hands and feet of Jesus to us... both family and friends in real life, and other women who have courageously shared their stories so that those following a similar path might not feel so alone. I took comfort in connecting with women like that, in the support of our family and friends, and in God's word. I spent a lot of time reading through Job and numerous psalms... somehow feeling encouraged by the fact that it is okay to lay your anguish before God. Never before had I been in a circumstance where the very core of who I was had been shaken, and never before had I been so desperate. And God met me in every square inch of it.
The waiting is hard... especially when you don't really know what you're waiting for. We were told one thing by the doctors; yet we know we serve a God who is bigger than any diagnosis. Walking in that tension was a difficult thing, but how could I not pray on Isaac's behalf? How could I not hope for the miracle that God is capable of?
I know some of you right now may be in that "waiting" place... some have even e-mailed me and asked for my advice on that. The only thing I know to tell you is this: Do whatever you can to enjoy your pregnancy and the time you have with your child right now, and pray that God would give you the courage and strength to do it. He will.... because His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness.

The Worst Pain In the World!!

In another wide-eyed trance of Wikipedia crawling, I found this horrifying and fascinating thing:


Doesn't sound too ominous...maybe just a headache that comes and goes in groups...? WRONG. Apparently, cluster headaches are an extreme neurological problem that makes the most severe migraine you've ever imagined look like a whiny two-beer hangover.

The feeling is described as a spike being driven through the center of your skull, or someone trying to rip out your eyeball through the back of your head. The degree of pain it causes has been compared to amputating limbs without anesthesia. Women compare it to the pain of natural childbirth and say it's MUCH WORSE.



And people who suffer from this condition sometimes have attacks up to TWENTY TIMES A WEEK. No wonder they're also referred to as "suicide headaches"--apparently many victims have to be put under 24 hour suicide watch because they will gladly off themselves at the first warning sign just to escape the coming headache.


The horrible irony of it is that the Worst Pain In The Universe is caused by something that isn't even physically harmful. Medically, the headaches are considered "benign", because nothing in your body is actually being damaged, basically your brain just suddenly decides to tell you that you're experiencing cosmically vast agony for NO REASON WHATSOEVER.

ALSO THERE IS NO CURE. There are a variety of preventative medicines and methods to ease the pain, but all of these are feeble semi-solutions that often FAIL.

Interestingly, one of the reportedly successful methods of ending a headache is to "accutely modulate hypthalmic function" BY HAVING SEX.



In other words......everyone, everywhere, stop complaining about anything, ever.


While doing something totally unrelated, I somehow stumbled onto info about a new film by Jared Hess, creator of Napoleon Dynamite, and the premise rang so true and hilarious and disturbingly close to home, I have to share.

It involves a teenage aspiring fantasy writer who attends a fantasy writer convention only to have the premise of his novel, Yeast Lords, stolen by a famous author at the convention.

First of all, Yeast Lords is one of the most inexplicably hilarious bad titles I've ever heard. Second of all, I realized than an equally inexplicable, untitled movie "trailer" I saw a few weeks ago, featuring Flight of the Conchords' Jemain Clement, was in fact an early teaser for this movie, GENTLEMEN BRONCOS.

"To inspire myself, I turn to myself."

This is sounding a LOT better than Nacho Libre...


Doodle Penance: "rob rockley"

We had some pretty good options for Doodle Penance this week, like "comics thesis without tear" (if only that were possible!), "hellboy craig parody," "''matt wiegle' cute," and "where can i get a mickey mouse t-shirt were mickey's face is a skull." Lots to choose from! And somehow we settled on "rob rockley."

I'm fairly sure that the page this anonymous googler landed on was the post in which I showed my sketches of the characters in Tom K's Mapjam story, whom I'm planning to use in my own story for the third round of the Mapjam.

I gave the three characters punlike names, which you'll catch if you read them out loud to a vegan in your grocery store's produce section.

As it happens, I've been thinking about the Mapjam more this week. I've been stealing a few minutes here and there to work out a new script and set of thumbnails for my story, since I've neglected it for almost two years now. I figure that if I draw a little bit on it every day—even if it takes me a month to draw a whole page—I'll have a story ready before the end of the year. Mostly I've been trying to figure out the look of the girl I'm calling Delilah, and her Paw, who doesn't appear in Tom K's story.

But hey, why not do a little pinup of Rob Rockley, the beefiest of the muck deacons?

Mike, can you tell me which cartoonist I was thinking of while I drew this? And what have you got this week?

—Hmm, Isaac, hard to say. That guy looks so much like Tor Johnson...Maybe you were thinking of Eric Powell of The Goon? Nah, that's probably just the overalls...I'm not sure. Sorry.

Anyway, here's my doodle:

In time, I did remember all by myself that "Rob Rockley" was your name for the figure on the far right, with a design by Tom K; but first my mind turned to similar-sounding figures like Rob Riggle (far left) and Bob Rock (middle); so here's a doodle portrait of the three of them joined at the torso, with stalks of raw broccoli in the background. Something about the finished three-headed bust made me think of a family photo, hence the frame and label.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Father's Day

Like Mother's Day, Father's Day is a really bittersweet time in our house. I think many of the emotions and much of sentiment is the same as my Mother's Day post entitled Honor. So in an effort to not repeat myself, today I simply want to leave you with a few thoughts, a few pictures, and a small request.

This first thing I want to share is how fortunate I am to have a wonderful dad (and stepdad, father-in-law, and stepfather-in-law). My dad has always encouraged my sister and I in our pursuits... even standing out in the rain during our soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse games. When I was little, he'd take me to the local five and dime with all my pennies that I had earned folding laundry so that I could by plastic charms to go on my plastic charm necklace. He values time with family, and even still this summer, rents a house for a week so that we can all be together. My dad was there to welcome his first grandson, our sweet little Isaac, into the world, and later looked for the fullest and most beautiful mums to line the altar at Isaac's memorial service. I have a great dad.

The second thing I want to share is that I know that not everyone does... have an involved, caring father, I mean. I know that some people reading this may have lost their dad, may have never known their dad, whose dads may be absent, or whose dads may be involved in addictive or abusive patterns of behavior. What I want you to know is that you have a Father in heaven who loves you and adores you.

Lastly, I just wanted to share publicly how proud I am of Spencer as Isaac's dad. When I was pregnant with Isaac, Spence would love to just casually put his hand over my stomach while we were sitting watching tv or talking so that he could feel Isaac move. He would talk to him and say goodnight to him every night before bed. He came to every one of our countless (believe me... they were countless!) doctor's appointments, and willingly came joined in the search to find Isaac the perfect blanket and outfit.

On the day Isaac was born, watching Spencer hold him and love him was amazing. There was something both so strong and so tender in the way Spencer held Isaac. When our friends and family came in to meet Isaac and hold him, Spencer would be right there, making sure each person was gentle with him... he is such a protector. Spencer lead us in praying together with Isaac, and watching a man love his son is one of the most beautiful things.

So as I leave you with a few pictures of our sweet son with his daddy, I'd like to make this request: if you have a word of encouragement or an affirmation as a dad for Spencer today, would you leave a comment? I know your words will touch his heart.

Just a Little Doodle by Tom Motley

A couple of months ago, our cartoonist pal Tom Motley posted a doodle on his blog that I wanted to color. There was something about the combination of light fantasy and creepy intensity that I wanted to spend another ten minutes with, I guess.

Anyway, Tom said I should go ahead and color it, and this morning, with a few idle minutes to spare, I finally did:

Check out Tom's work, if you haven't. He's one of the good ones.

days, weeks, and months

Mary gave me a new calendar for Father's Day. It begins July 1, 2009 and ends December 31, 2010. Eighteen months, seventy eight weeks, five hundred and forty nine days.......all blank. It is a great gift. The gift of anticipation, yearning, dreaming, and planning. The gift of the future yet to unfold. I begin to fill in the blanks. The first week of July; the birth of Sarah and Todd's son is expected, grandchild number 7. I skip past the summer months to November and write in the anticipated birth of Josh and Elizabeth's daughter, grandchild number 8. This will mean that each of our four biological children have two children, a boy and a girl for each. How symmetrical and how wonderful for the grandparents.

Thinking of the family leads me to write in our family gathering at the end of August each year on the shores of Lake George. I then block off the winter weeks when we plan to be in Florida enjoying the warmth of the sunshine state as our house groans under the weight of the winter snow and ice. We are renting a house on a lake this year and I look forward to fishing for those big Florida bass.

There are opportunities for ministry to plan for also. A couple of weddings, the ordination of Jennifer Peters McCurry on August 29th. Jen has asked me to preach at the service. It is such an honor. Jen attended the congregation I served and I have known her since she was a young child. This will be the second young woman from our congregation whose ordination I am blessed to participate in.

I have received an invitation to serve as the main speaker at a youth gathering of Senior High youth that will be held in Niagara Falls in mid-March. Another honor and surely a blessing to be able to share in the excitement and energy of that event. The planning for what I will say will never be far from my mind the next nine months. Later that same month I will turn 65 years old. What a sense of humor God must have to give me this opportunity in this season of my life. Conversely, this November, I will be speaking on "Faith and Aging" for a Senior group.

So it goes, as I fill in a date here and a date there but most of the days remain blank. This is when the excitement grows. What surprises await me on these monthly pages, what joys and sorrows are yet to be? I am reminded of Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Therefore I choose to anticipate the next year and a half with hope, excitement, and gratefulness.

When God Said "No"

No one likes to be told "no." Whether it's for a fleeting pleasure or a holy desire, "no" isn't typically the answer we like to hear. At least I don't... and I hope I'm not alone here :)

I think one of the things that has been difficult to process is the fact that while God said "yes" to many of our prayers concerning Isaac, he said "no" to one of the biggest ones of all.

You see, we prayed for Isaac's cystic hygroma to shrink... and it did. We prayed that we would be able to hold him while he was still alive... and we were. We prayed that he wouldn't be in pain... and he never appeared to be. I even prayed that he would be born with hair so that I could have a lock (or several) of it... and he was.

But our biggest prayer of all... that Isaac would be healed on this side of heaven... well, God said no. Ultimately, I know that Isaac is healed, that he has been saved, and that he is perfect, full, and whole in the presence of our Father. But he didn't get to be here with us for a while first... and that was the deepest cry of our hearts.

Spencer and I have talked a lot about how all over scripture there are examples where people are asking to be healed, and the answer was "yes." The blind man who could see; the leper; the hemorrhaging woman... the list goes on. And so there has felt like there's been this disconnect, and it all has felt sort of arbitrary... who is told "yes" and who is told "no." Truthfully, it all feels a little unfair.

This past Sunday we were sitting in church and our pastor was preaching the second sermon in a series entitled "God Rules." He has been talking about the sovereignty of God, and at this one point in the sermon very passionately proclaimed, "God has never dealt with you unjustly." At first, everything in me wanted to jump up and say, "Oh yeah?!?!" But I obviously didn't and I was intrigued. As I continued to listen, what came to mind was a conversation we had with some good friends that previous Friday night.

We were talking with them about how it is hard to find an example in scripture where God said "no." There just don't seem to be that many. And through this conversation two examples came to mind.

The first was Paul... being tormented by a thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:8 says that Paul asked three times for it to be taken away. And God said no. Here's what the Lord said to him instead in verse 9... "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Even more profoundly than Paul is Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane, he asked the Father... "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39) We learn later in the rest of Matthew 26 and 27 that God's answer was no. Because Jesus did go to the cross.

He went to the cross for you... for me... for Isaac... for Duncan, Will, Blake, Ethan, Vivian, Anne Marie, Brooks, Maxson, Nathan, Lucas, Matthew,Faith, Grace, Thomas, Pearl, Christian, Dylan, Katherine, Audrey, Luke, Carleigh, Felicity, and so many other precious little ones who left their moms' and dads' arms much sooner than any of us would have liked.

As I walked out of church, I thought... What if God hadn't said "no" when Jesus prayed?

What if Jesus hadn't bore the weight of our sin on the cross? Where would we be? What redemption would there be in the loss of these little ones? In God's goodness and grace His answer was "no."

And so while what happened with Isaac feels unjust (among other things)... it ultimately isn't. Jerry Sitser in A Grace Disguised (yes, I am still working on this book!) puts it this way:

Our feelings do not determine what is real, though the feelings themselves are real. The feeling self is not the center of reality. God is the center of reality. To surrender to God, however contrary to our emotions, will lead to liberation from self and will open us to a world that is much bigger and much grander than we are.

Thank goodness. Thank goodness it is all bigger than me and bigger than this. If it wasn't, where would the redemption be? Where would the purpose be? Thank goodness that God's vision is so much bigger than mine... even when and even tough I may not understand it. Thank goodness that He is sovereign over all of it, even when it hurts and doesn't seem to make any sense.

So in those times of weakness, of hurt, and of suffering, I cling to what the Lord said to Paul... My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.

I miss Isaac terribly; but there is so much beauty in the way that the Lord's grace has carried us each step of the way.

It is the prayer of my heart that if you are hurting and you are suffering that you'd find rest in knowing that His grace is sufficient.

Illustration Friday Topic : Unfold

Inspired by my lazy dog sammy....

I wasn't planning on doing this topic, but since having graduated i really need to find every excuse i can to draw. So heres the first of hopefully more frequent illustration friday posts. This was just a quick cartoon, its nearly 2 am, i should be asleep.

More progress

Obama's Twitter

It has recently come to my attention that President Barack Obama has a Twitter profile, marking yet another historic first for this most progressive president.

What might a typical day of the president's tweets look like?

BARACK Overslept again because stupid blackberry alarm never works. Cabinet is giving me that look.

BARACK Can't stand the sound of Joe's voice right now. Is it lunch yet?

BARACK Someone get the president some Starbucks, STAT! lol

BARACK One of the annoying parts about being America's first black president is you can't really ask the chef for fried chicken, no matter how much you want it. >:(

BARACK Another meeting...

BARACK "Can't read my, can't read my, no you can't read my poker face..."

BARACK Finances, debt, Bernanke, etc...

BARACK Oh my God the president's been shot!!! jk


BARACK Do you ever feel like people don't really know you, even your best friends, and if they would just listen maybe they would understand you a little better?

BARACK Eating a Chick-o-Stick in front of the whole Cabinet because I don't even give a shit.

BARACK Working late. Bills, bills, bills! lol

BARACK All the halls in this place look exactly the same! I literally can't find the Oval Office right now...

BARACK Ok this is embarassing I am lost in the White House. Hello, Secret Service, I'm standing next to the painting of Alexander Hamilton or whoever. COME GET ME.

BARACK Wondering if there were ever any unmarried presidents. A young, single president of the united states, let loose on the hot women of the world.
Can you imagine???

BARACK Sitting on the deck, drinking tea, listening to "Rumors" on vinyl. Life is good.

BARACK YAWN. Sleep now...president in morning...


Well, I wish I had some really exciting news to post, but I don't. Sales are continuing, but slowly and I havent had much of a chance to push the book, trying to get ready for the arts festival instead. I plan to be signing books at the Utah Arts Festival next week June 25-28 at Library Square as well as selling my pots and garden ornaments.

Getting ready for the art fest is a daunting task. It nearly consumes me. I have already spent hundreds of hours getting ready for this one and I still have a week left which means I will probably spend another hundred hours before I am set up and ready to go. This show is four days long with super long hours 12 Noon- 11pm. There is not a longer art festival this side of the Mississippi and for good reason. But I love this show. It gets me in front of lots of folks that have supported me over the years gives me a chance to show my new work, which this year includes Remembering Isaac.

I also have my first appointment to speak to a book club. This will be taking place next month, July 7. I am looking for more opportunities to speak and share my message. I'll speak to a group of any size(preferably more than three).