My Interview with Rev. Samih Mouris

I made this interview with Rev. Samih Mouris in August 2011, specially for Christ at the Checkpoint. I must admit there are few people I respect more than Rev. Samih Mouris. He is the most influential Evangelical leader in the Arab world today, and it was indeed an honor to sit with him for this interview.

Rev. Samih Mouris from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.

Palestinian Christians React to Israeli Ambassador’s Claims about Holy Land Churches

Here is my article in Sojourners in response to the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

Here is an open letter written by a group of Palestinian Christian leaders in response as well.

And this an article from Israel journalist Amira Hass in Haaretz about the same issue.

This is the original letter by ambassador Oren in WSJ.

Alphabeasts: X is for Xenomorph

This week's "Alphabeasts" entry is another one of those about which I don't have a whole lot to say. I like the first couple of Aliens movies a lot, but I don't think I've seen any of the other ones. I know about as much about the titular aliens' life cycle as can be gleaned from the first movie: egg-facehugger-chestburster-xenomorph. That's about it.

Still, it's not as if there are a million fictional creatures that start with X, and I thought it would probably be fun to draw one of these beasties. I'm guessing that I won't be alone in that assessment.

Apparently I still have a little bit of wild rumpus left in my system from last week.

Here's a doodle I made (with Sendak open in front of me) when I was trying to figure out how to draw a xenomorph without lapsing into cliches of awesomeness and radicality.

I'm guessing that I got some of that Sendak goodness from last week mixed up with this diner scene from Spaceballs.

It's also possible that this xenomorph is buds with Elijah Wood and is dancing "The Puppet Master."

Well, better an earworm than a chestburster, I guess.

Next week: the oldest entry in my alphabet. That is, it's the creature in my list that was invented the longest ago.


This week we received our first update on Isaac.  He weighs 23 pounds! We are soon going to receive updated pictures from a missionary that just returned from the orphanage. :) Everytime I print off a picture of him and frame it one of my girls take it and put it in their room...they are just as eager to have him here as Chad and I.

Faith Under Occupation

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has published a new book called Faith Under Occupation. The Plight of Indigenous Christians in the Holy Land. The book narrates stories of Palestinian Christians and their struggles in face of the Israeli occupation. According to the Introduction of the book,

Many people in the West tend to view the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict as a Muslim-Jewish one, and unless they belong to either of these faiths, they often find it difficult to relate to the conflict and those who are affected by it. This report aims to expose the grim realities of life under Israeli military occupation, and the impacts that it has on all Palestinians, such as land and water confiscation, settlement expansion, access and movement issues, violence, residency rights and many other human rights violations as told by Palestinian Christians.

The book is about real life stories and real life struggles, and gives an insight into issues that are seldom told in the Media, like the water distribution, tourism control, and residency rights. It also tells the story of some of the most "forgotten" Christians, those who live in remote Palestinian villages like Taybeh, Zababdeh and Burqin. 

These stories give voice to Palestinian Christians, and they come in a very important time. Two weeks ago, the Israeli ambassador to USA Michael Oren, claimed in an article in WSJ that the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza is the fault of Palestinian Muslims. The article was full of inaccuracies and even lies, and Palestinian Christians responded with anger and disgust. WSJ was then forced to feature some of these responses

This is a serious issue for Palestinian Christians. We are not saying that radical Isalm is not a threat. We are not denying that there are some struggles that we face as a minority. We are not denying that there are some incidences in which Christians were attacked by radical Muslims, like in the death of Rami Ayyad in Gaza. 

What we are saying, is that for us, the real issue and the core of our struggles is the Israeli occupation. The occupation is real. (Please read the book mentioned above!) It has been our reality for the last 45 years. It is the main reason why Palestinian Christians are leaving. Every Palestinian Christian leader and every major Christian movement, Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants alike, have stressed this. The Kairos Palestine document, which clearly states that the occupation is the core issue for Palestinian Christians, was endorsed by all the heads of the Churches. In addition, when one speaks about the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land, it must be stressed that almost fifty to sixty thousand Christians were forced to leave historical Palestine as a result of the Nakba of 1948. 

To insist that radical Islam is the real struggle for Palestinian Christians undermines the struggles and sufferings of Palestinian Christians caused by the occupation, and label these struggles as imagined and unreal. This is insulting. To blame the Muslims is in reality an attempt to mask the injustices of the occupation. It is also an attempt to color the conflict with familiar Western "black and white" colors. This is in fact the shameful goal behind Oren's article: to stereotype Palestinians as radical Muslim persecutors of Christians, whereas Israel is the real and only ally for Christian Americans who are concerned for Christians in the East. 

I suggest that ambassador Oren spends time listening to Palestinian Christians, instead of talking on their behalf. Perhaps he should listen to the almost 50 Palestinian Christian families from Beit Jala near Bethlehem, whose land is under the threat of being confiscated by his own government. Yesterday, I again joined members of these families in their weekly prayer which they have been holding in the land for the last four months. These families have been persistant in their stand against this injustice, holding without any interruption the prayer despite some cold and windy whether. Their persistency and patience is amazing, and the continual presence of many international activists is an encouraging factor. These families decided to put their hope in God and in God alone, for it is Him who is our real and only hope in the Holy Land. 

Virtual Home Tour

Ben Behunin, Potter / Author, The House That Built Me

A friend of mine came over the other day to film the house and I thought I would pass it on to all of you who aren't in the area. For those of you who are in the Salt Lake City area, we will be having another studio sale/ home tour on May 10, 11, 12. Put it on your calendar. More info will follow soon, but I thought this might be of some interest. Cheers, Ben

Alphabeasts: W is for Wild Thing

Quick post this week, because I still have a ton of Jane Eyre to prep (and The Death Ray, to boot). But here's this week's Alphabeasts critter, which I hope will be universally recognizable:

W is for Wild Thing.

These guys are so fun. I've loved them since I was just a little kid.

Yes, they make everything groovy.

Next week: hard sci-fi not suitable for the wee ones.


Starting a new project in Sao Paulo for ROJO Nova.

The Fight for Recognition and Against Ideology

By Porter Speakman, Jr & Munther Isaac

Earlier this week a report came out via blogs and social media that Dr. Naim Khoury, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, was told by the Palestinian Authority (PA) “to shut the doors–they were closing down the church” and that the PA no longer recognized the church as legitimate. The report was issued by Russ Resnik, the executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC). Many pro-Israeli organizations and individuals quickly took it to Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs to try to make a connection between what happened and the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, which just took place last week in Bethlehem. They also blamed the PA’s actions on the fact that Dr. Khoury is pro-Israel and takes a Christian Zionist stance in his theology, and because of these beliefs his church was being “shut down”. There was only one problem with Mr. Resnik’s report. It was factually wrong.

Upon hearing the news, other local Evangelical leaders among the Palestinian church reached out to Dr. Khoury and his family to hear what had happened. The Khoury family seemed surprised at the report that was being generated by interviews with their son, Steven Khoury, currently in the USA, and denied that the church was “shut down.” Mr. Resnik, to his credit, has now issued a public correction stating “after a further conversation with Pastor Steven Khoury” the statement that the “doors were being shut” by the PA was “not accurate”. What happen is that the PA told Dr. Khoury that his church is not officially recognized by the government or licensed to issue marriage documents, which is by no means new news. This has nothing to do with the church being “pro-Israel.” Nevertheless, it still made it to some pro-Israel websites.

This brings up a bigger issue among Evangelical churches in the Palestinian Territories: official recognition by the PA. Unlike traditional churches like the Greek Orthodox and Catholics, Evangelical churches in the Palestinian Territories are not officially recognized and therefore things like marriage documents are not considered legitimate by government authorities. They have the freedom to worship, but are not “official.” This goes back all the way to the Ottoman Empire days and then the British mandate, and only the thirteen churches that were recognized back then continue to have recognition in Palestine, Jordan and Israel. (See page 27 of the following document This is not limited to the Palestinian Authority; Evangelical churches are also not recognized by the State of Israel.

For the last few years, there have been many discussions between Evangelical church leaders, including those who organized and spoke at the Christ at the Checkpoint, and officials from the PA. The recognition does not depend entirely on the PA, and the input of the already recognized churches is as equally important. In addition, the congregational nature of the Evangelical churches and the absence of a recognized hierarchy complicate things. 

This is why efforts by Christ at the Checkpoint to highlight the Evangelical Palestinian church are so important. Having Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad come for the second time in as many conferences to speak and to see first hand what the Bethlehem Bible College and local churches are doing helps, not hinders, the churches efforts for recognition. In addition, the issue of seeking recognition for Evangelical churches in Palestine and in Israel was openly discussed during the conference.

Critics of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference pointed out the timing as being ironic coming only days after the conference and Dr. Fayyad’s presence there. In reality, the timing of these ongoing attacks is what is ironic.

So while some would want you to believe that this is about a pro-Israel church being persecuted by the PA, the facts point to a greater struggle for recognition for the Evangelical Palestinian church as a whole. So rather than spending time using this situation for ideological purposes, we should encourage and help not only the church in Palestine, but the Palestinian Authority as they continue to seek to build conditions for a free and democratic Palestine. We should also continue to seek and encourage equal freedoms and recognition for Evangelicals and other religious minorities in Israel. Evangelical congregations and non-orthodox Jews long for recognition in some of the same areas.  Unfortunately, Evangelicals are not fairing better in Israel.

My talk at Christ at the Checkpoint

Here is the video of my talk at Christ at the Checkpoint. I was overwhelmed, encouraged and really moved by the responses I received from those who attended. I did not expect such a warm response. I give all the glory to God, for it is His Word that continues to inspire me.

I am grateful for all the positive feedbacks, all those who thanked me in person or wrote to me, or shared and wrote about it. I spoke from my heart, pain and personal experience. My talk was a mix of my story, my frustration from some forms of Evangelical theology, and my understanding of the theology of land. Most importantly, my talk was shaped by continuously being challenged by the Sermon on the Mountain, and I hope that this was reflected.

Munther Isaac: A Palestinian Christian Perspective from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.



Thanks FE

Palestinian Christians attacked for challenging Christian Zionism

This is Electronic Intifada's report on Christ at the Checkpoint.

Alphabeasts: V is for Vulture (of Amzot)

This week I have an extra entry for "Alphabeasts." When I originally planned my alphabet, months ago, I wanted to make sure I included a creature from The Herculoids if possible, because the show has recently become available on DVD, and I wanted an excuse to re-watch it, after all these years, and see whether it got me as stoked as it did when I was a little kid.

Okay, here you go: V is for vulture. You know, like the giant vulture of Amzot. Not those scavenger birds.

(Some poor soul has even written up AD&D stats for this creature and for everything else on the show, should you wish to inflict The Herculoids on your party.)

I remember when I was a kid really wishing I had little toy versions of Igoo and Tundro and Zok, and trying to make Play-Doh versions of Gloop and Gleep to play with. Something about the weirdness of the show's creature designs must really have appealed to the little monster-maker in me, circa age six or seven, or whenever I was seeing the reruns of the show. (I'm too young to have seen it on first release.)

Anyway, it turns out that most of the weird background creatures either don't get names, or else are too sentient to go in a zoo. Or else they're beings like Tundro (an awesomely ridiculous creature design if there ever was one) who have names but no species. I toyed with the idea of drawing Igoo under "R is for Rock Ape," but then the idea of a Rust Monster insisted on being drawn. So I planned on drawing this "vulture"—that's what they call the creature in Episode 18 ("The Lost Dorgyte")—which appears very briefly about 26 seconds into the show's opening credits, which are behind this link.

(Does he look familiar?)

I have to say that inking this guy was one of the happiest artistic experiences I've had recently. I think I really did a nice job with the face.

Part of the reason for that good feeling probably comes from having locates Alex Toth's original model sheet for the "vulture" online (right here, in the "Collecting Fool" Toth gallery).

...And part of it is probably that I have been doing enough drawing this week that I am not entirely rusty for a change.

Anyway, next week, we take a trip even deeper into childhood nostalgia. Whee!

Evangelical church meets "at the checkpoint". Maannews Article

Thanks to Charlotte Alfred from Maannews English for this excellent article that I felt captured a lot of what took place in the conference.

Life as I know it

This month and the last bit of Feb have consisted of
Reags being sick
Isaac being sick
Our first pack meeting...The Blue and Gold Banquet
Idaho Falls, maybe even just Idaho's first (not certain though) Caucus 
Making my own fabric covered button earrings AND clips
Watching some of my most favorite kids...Isaac and I had a "sleepover" at their house.
(I use to nanny for them.)
Taking Reagan to the park for her first time. She was fine with that.....
Getting ready to go visit our favorite people!!!!

Poor little one had to get her blood drawn. And also needed a catheter to take a urine sample. sad. At least we can figure out how to help
these little ones in this era.
She had a fever for a week, was miserable, and would snuggle with us.
all signs something was not right.
Gramps (a.k.a. her pediatrician) finally decided it was time to look into this further.
He said he was trying not to be a grandpa and was really trying to put off having to have her
have blood drawn etc.
The tests showed that she had a bladder infection. Antibiotics cleared things up
and my babes is back!
There are MUCH worse things parents have to go through.

I did had some pictures of the Banquet. Mostly of our boys' AMAZING cake decorating skills.
However, due to my late blog posting I didn't save the pics. I thought I had downloaded them, so I erased them. Sad.

 the line wrapped around the school. in the snow.
patiently waiting


 His name is Isaac, like the hubs. So since Reagan
was born he always says, "She gets confused and thinks I'm her dad too."
 we were watching a show and he pulled one of these numbers. 
to say I love him doesn't fully express how deep my feelings are for this kid.

Park...we will be seeing a whole lot of you from now on.

A few in between pictures

 pro: she can pick things up (i.e. food) and put them in her mouth
con: she can pick things up (i.e. buttons) and put them in her mouth
 i can't say it enough...she loooooooves babies.
 "china man smile"
 it does not matter where or when, she ALWAYS is in complete heaven when being feed a bottle
without fail. her eyes close. her hand go immediately to her eyes to rub and rest.
(this was in the VERY loud Caucus)
 she looks "bite size" on this
 my new "must have"... Bountiful Basket.
this was a friend's I picked up.
I had basket envy
 mom sometimes I think it is fun to pull myself up on things...
that's fine

ps.....flash back. she's so beautiful. truly.

Alphabeasts: V is for Vermicious Knids

This week's "Alphabeasts" come from Roald Dahl's lesser-known sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the book that answers the question of where that magic elevator winds up after it leaves Willy Wonka's Factory. In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, as you may already know, Charlie Bucket and Willie Wonka make it into space, to a vast orbiting American hotel, where the are menaced by alien invaders.

Yes, my friends, V is for vermicious knids.

The vermicious knids are amorphous hostile entities from the planet Vermes, entirely comfortable in deep space but prone to burning up on atmospheric re-entry. They can assume any shape they care to. Here's an illustration from the original book, to give you a sense of the shapes they try on, and to explain why I eschewed my usual brushpen-plus-Photoshop methods for the week.

They're fun to draw. There's no wrong shape for a vermicious knid, and you can keep putting crosshatching on them until they take on the dimensionality that you want. Give them a try the next time someone puts you on hold!

Here's a little process doodle that I used to figure out whether the cross-hatching method was going to work:

Next week, I am planning a trip to a children's book that's quite a bit better known.

Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 Press Release and Manifesto

At the last day of the conference, I help drafting the final press release of Christ at the Checkpoint and the 12 points manifesto. These points were endorsed of course by the conference local and international committee, and represent our calling for Evangelical Christians around the world:

Christ at the Checkpoint: Hope in the Midst of Conflict: 2012

A major breakthrough in the evangelical world took place in Bethlehem through a gathering of over 600 international and local Christians, including renowned evangelical leaders. Organized by Bethlehem Bible College, the conference, under the banner “Christ at the Checkpoint,” addressed the issue of how to find hope in the midst of conflict. The conference exceeded all expectations.

For the first time, a broad spectrum of evangelical believers met literally at the “checkpoint,” and engaged biblically on issues that have historically divided them. Subjects included, Christian Zionism, Islamism, justice, nonviolence, and reconciliation. These themes were intended to create an ongoing forum for Christian peacemaking within the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. These issues were discussed in the form of inspirational messages, Bible study, interactive workshops, panels and site visits.

Defying the temptation to despair, Palestinian Christians demonstrated renewed hope to continue to stand against the injustice of occupation nonviolently and forms of Christian Zionism that marginalize them. They also acknowledged the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders.

Speakers included John Ortberg, Bishara Awad, Chris Wright, Doug Birdsall, David Kim, Tony Campolo, Lynne Hybels, Munther Isaac, Shane Claiborne, Joel Hunter, Ron Sider, Salim Munayer and Colin Chapman. Participants from 20 nations and a sizeable delegation of university students including Wheaton College and Eastern University, were moved by the testimony of Palestinian men and women who shared the pain and suffering they experience on a daily basis caused primarily by the continuing occupation.

A unique aspect of the conference was the presence and presentations by members of the Messianic community including Richard Harvey, Evan Thomas and Wayne Hilsden, who provided an integral contribution to the dialogue.

Conference organizers challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of “end times” prophecy and instead rallied them to join in following Jesus in the prophetic pursuance of justice, peace and reconciliation.

The Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto
  1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
  2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.
  3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
  4. The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.
  5. Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
  6. All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.  
  7. Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.
  8. There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.
  9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.
  10. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.
  11. Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.
  12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.

The Statement and Manifesto were presented to the Conference participants on the last day but were only agreed and endorsed by the Conference Organizers.

Conference Organizers:
John Angle, Alex Awad, Bishara Awad, Sami Awad, Steve Haas, Munther Isaac, Yohanna Katanacho, Manfred Kohl, Salim Munayer, Jack Sara, Stephen Sizer

Daoud Kuttab Summary of Christ at the Checkpoint

Here is Daoud Kuttab summary of Christ at the Checkpoint. I found it very insightful. Daoud is a Palestinian Evangelical Journalist who now lives in Jordan. I will write more about the conference in the coming few days, as I am still recovering emotionally and physically from a life-changing and challenging week.

MSNBC Article On Evangelical support to Israel

I was recently interviewed as a part of an article for MSNBC. The full article, which talks about Evangelical support to Israel, is here.

I'm sure you'd like to know...

here are the rules:
1. post these rules.
2. post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. go to their blog and tell them they've been tagged.

Here goes...

1. being wrinkly, long natural finger nails, and the feel of newspaper all give me the creeps,
even imagining them as I type  gave me a yucky shiver

b. I turned 11 in Taiwan, my cousin, who is more like a sister, Jessica Kristen
invited me to go with her family. Very fond memories.

3. I secretly and genuinely want to never stop having children.
Realistically though, I'm sure we'll draw the line around five or six.
I also realize there might be moms reading this thinking, YOU ONLY HAVE ONE...just wait...
but seriously. Bring it on.

d. I never thought I was "crafty" but a year into my marriage I realized..
I love crafts. I love being in control of my decor, or 
accessories for me or my babe, and would LOVE to create
onesies for Reagan or refashion old clothes for myself.
as well as quilting, croqueting etc. get the idea :)

5. It never gets easy, for me, to read that Dumbledore dies. 
(P.s. I could listen to Jim Dal read Harry Potter almost every minute)

f. There are few things I adore more than taking pictures

7. I have the largest imagination of all mankind. Not in a good way.
In a very unhealthy, planning a get away for me and
my baby in case someone tries to hijack us in our car while Isaac runs in to get a movie, kind of unhealthy.
(you think I'm joking... there are names I could give that would validate the truthfulness of this)

h. I dream of warm(er) places to live

9.  Alfalfa Sprouts, fish, and cupcakes make my tummy smile

J. Road trips, or any trips for that matter, make me the happiest

11. I sincerely don't think twice about the size or luxury of  my future home
but I continuously imagine getting my hands on it and make it my own.
the possibilities...

My favorite activity to do on a sunny day, would have to be a day at the pool.
picnics and walks are fantastic also

I blog to keep a history with pictures. As well as to share my passions and "goings ons" with others
as well as getting to have a part in others' lives.

Taking a drive to clear my head,
 and saying a private prayer
 would truly be the best way to relieve frustration/anger.
Instead I choose to act like a child and pout and cry.

My perfect day would be a toss up between a day at home with nice weather so I could
 be productive by doing crafts
as well as playing in the sun with my baby and hubs.
A road trip not too far away to somewhere that would provide my family
with new activities and food. Large zoos and Indian food?

My ideal vacation would be one of warmth and relaxation (a beach...) with a few days of
fun activities.
Along with nights filled with rain storms.
Oh and....only purchasing a one way ticket.....

Dream job....WELL. I truly worked in one of my dreamist of all dream jobs
when i worked as a orthodontic assistant. best.ever.
Although my truest desire for an occupation I have come to find within myself is..
photography. mmmm I would love that

Biggest pet peeve. Either people talking/being obnoxious in a movie you overpaid to enjoy
bad drivers.

too many favorite tv shows and movies...however if I had to choose..gun to my head...
Emperor's New Groove

Worst fear?  easy.           mice

Hospital overnight?   Only to have a baby. I'm not sure if that counts.
So yes...but so have so many before me for this same reason.
only time

Favorite quote:

Enjoy the little things in life,
for one day you'll look back
and realize they were the big things.

the girls I have chosen are:

 Alyssa Stevens
Erin Steiner
Tara Siddoway
Rachel Davis
Rachel Fullmer (if you see this and have the time)
Shacie you need to get a blog and then participate!!!
Becca Jones
Laura Lee Musson
Amanda Bland
LeeAnn Davis
Jenn Davis
Kody Davis
Bridgette Davis...
Basically any of you cuties with a blog!
and seriously if you are reading this post...I pick you :)
since I'm new to this whole thing I'm not sure I have the most readers or viewers but
I'd love for any of you to answer this post.
Read the rules, follow them and then answer my questions.
k folks....

1. Looking back, what time period or experience made you want to be better?

2. If you had to choose a food to live on for the rest of your life....what would it be?

3. 5 things you know you couldn't survive without!

4. You're best trait? I know it isn't easy to admit. But it's good for you!

5. If family or occupation were not a factor....where would you live if given the choice?

6. What stood out to you very first about your husband that made you pick him? And if you are not married what is the most important quality you want to find in our future husband?

7. Favorite animal?

8. If given free time to yourself what would you do?

9. Role model?

10. Would you rather be a tribute in the Hunger Games or know that you would have to defeat Voldemort on your own? And explain.... (hopefully you have read or are familiar with each)

11. Greatest passion in life?

loves and hugs

I don't know what to say... I may ramble a bit for a while until I figure it out. The writing was going very well there for about a week and then I realized how far behind I was in my preparations for Art and Soup, which takes place next week at the Sheridan down town. I also have a one man show opening at the Loge Gallery at the Pioneer Memorial Theater on the U of U campus starting at the end of the month. I am running far behind for everything, so needless to say, the book will not be done in time for Mother's Day this year, but I believe I can complete it by this fall.
That makes me sad to admit that. In some ways, I feel like I have failed, not in any personal goal sense, but in that I know this book will have some power to help lift and inspire, and those that may need it now will have to wait. I don't like that.
I received a phone call this morning from a woman who asked me to come and speak to a youth group in June. I speak to youth groups regularly. She felt like my message might offer hope to the youth of her community who have seen two of their peers end their lives with suicide in the past two weeks. I am saddened by that. I am saddened to think what might cause a young person to put such a permanent end to a likely temporary problem. This woman was the third person in as many days who has spoken to me about loved ones who have recently committed suicide. What a tragic way to deal with the trials of life. I believe the lessons of this book will help those who struggle with such challenges and I know I have to write it, I know I have to push on. I know that sometimes all we need is glimmer of hope to turn our lives around and face the sun.
Three women stopped by today to purchase a gift for a mutual friend of theirs whose twenty-two year old son recently ended his life. They were looking for a journey jar and found one, but when I showed them some of my latest work for the Loge Gallery show, they fell in love with a beautiful bowl and had to take that too. There is a bright sun in the middle and then written around the sun, it says, "Let us pause in Life's trials to stop and face the sun which is always shining for those with open eyes--look, search, discover.
Years ago, while traveling in an airplane, I was struck with the truth that above the clouds, the sun is always shining, and that if we will open our eyes and rise above the clouds, life is always bright and exciting. Depression is a powerful force that seems to use fear to hold us down and suffocate us. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures, 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of Fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind." Fear has no place in the things of God. If we could all turn to love and embrace it and spread it around, I am convinced our world would be a gentler place and fear and the darkness surrounding it would lose its power. So, maybe that what this post is all about, that I needed to remind myself to embrace that which is good and true and light, and let the rest fall by the wayside.
Press on.
PS, Save the date for the Mother's Day open house/ home tour May 10-12 10 am-5pm each day, here at the studio.

My Desk

Thank you to all my loyal followers for sticking around in these months with infrequent posts. Things are really heating up on the project im working on at Zynga. Lots of other things going on outside of work, stay tuned for some really exciting updates coming soon.... in the mean time heres a drawing of my beloved workspace!

Alphabeasts: U is for Unagi

This week's Alphabeast comes from the animated Avatar: the Last Airbender. Specifically, it comes from the fourth episode, "The Warriors of Kyoshi."

You see, U is for unagi.

I've only watched the first season of Avatar. It's pretty fun, and there's a lot of "worldbuilding" inventiveness in the background creatures. No one in the show ever really comments on them, but most of that world's animals seem to be hybridizations of our real-world creatures, so there are goldfish-whales called "elephant koi;" there are "otter-penguins" and "badgerfrogs" and "armadillo wolves. And so forth.

Like I said, it's a fun show. I'll probably watch the whole thing with my little son when he gets old enough to enjoy it.

Really, there are so many interesting creatures on the show that I shouldn't have had to semi-cheat the way I'm doing with this week's entry. What I mean is that "unagi" is probably the name for the species of sea serpent / eel that we see in Episode 4, but it might also be the name of the specific eel—"Unagi," rather than an "unagi." I know Andrew Neal isn't going to boot this submission because it might be a name instead of a species. (I mean, look.) But I still feel like I'm bending my own rules, especially since I could have drawn a canyon crawler or whatever from Avatar instead, if I'd juggled the alphabet a little differently.

On the other hand, I love unagi (the real-world eel, sliced up on a blob of rice—I could eat it every day). And I love lake monsters. Why not bring them together?

Just for fun, and to put another image into this post, here's a scan of my original ink-work for the drawing above, including a spot where I messed up the lines on the unagi's body and drew an alternative set of lines.

Next week: this is my spring break, so I'm thinking about doing a double for the letter V: a creature probably designed by Alex Toth, on the one hand, and a Roald Dahl monster on the other.