Good morning

This is what we call a
Good Morning!

Everyday this is Isaac when he wakes up :)
Things are still progressing as we had hoped.  Tomorrow is yet another big day; as we hope to get his passport!!

Announcing our new baby boy ...

Announcing to you the newest member of the Thompson family ...
Isaac Kelvin Thompson
Below is our first picture with Isaac
Sleepy boy with his Daddy on our long drive back to Kampala
Visiting the old orphanage
Happy after a great day in court & eating pizza at Nando's.  ...oh my goodness...mushroom and cheese pizza with almost NO sauce....yummo! It was as good as being at LaRosa's ;)
Walking into church
Now we are just waiting for Isaac's Passport, then meeting with the US Embassy so we can have our whole family together.  Pray for our patience as well as a speedy process!

Art Show!

Back in 2003 A.D, when I was a frustrated, 21-year-old starving artist struggling to figure out who I was and what I was doing with my post-cult life, I was invited to do an art show at Western Washington University's gallery. In addition to my paintings, some of which you can see on this blog, I created a video installation which was projected on a wall and, in my opinion, really tied the room together.

I just recently unearthed the DVD of this video, and I wanted to share it with you folks. It's crude stuff, and very lo-fi video quality, having been created on late-90s software and moved carelessly back and forth between many file formats and I believe at one point, run through a VCR? For some reason? But somehow it still holds a fascination for me, and if you're a really die-hard fan of my writing and art styles and also very patient, you might find some pleasure in it.

Praying for tomorrow

The orphanage which Isaac was in is new and so nice!  It is directly across from the school and church. It has working showers and bathrooms!  

Isaac is known around here with our new American friends as "Little Bill" because of his walk/strut and adorable pinchable cheeks. He is sometimes the happiest boy around.  We crack up at his huge belly laughing! 

Tomorrow is a big day for us. We present all the necessary documents to the judge and are hoping to be granted guardianship of Isaac. We then have to wait for the embassy to finish up the rest for us. Pray for the judge's decision tomorrow.  Also pray that we are not selected (as random families are) by the US Embassy to be investigated. That would mean a longer stay.  We are really missing our family during the days when we have so much idle time. 

I just read my devotion in Jesus calling from 9/17 and it was SO needed and directed at me to give over anxiety and worry...all of our planning means nothing bc He has this in control

Big City, Balcony, & Big Day

We left the village of Bussia early yesterday and are back in the big city of Kampala.  We are staying in a beautiful mansion with our very own suite and balcony. 

They also have plenty of toys for Isaac here. 

We had our court date with the judge this morning.  We met with the attorney yesterday to make sure everything was in order; which is when we were informed Chad needed a button down shirt, and that his polo wouldn't suffice.  After attempting to buy a shirt and discovering the price was $60 we traded shirts with our hired driver. ;)  Everyone knows me... always looking for a bargain!!  Of course I know the exact number of texts I have sent and phone calls so as to have a tally of the phone bill in my head.  hehe. 

So, back to more about the court date.  Court went well.  We have to gather a few more documents and next Wednesday will be the ruling, then we should have guardianship papers in our hand. :)

Thanks as always for your continued prayers!

Just Some Tidbits

  • Isaac is transitioning great! His house mama at the orphanage can't believe how he will come to us when she is in the room since we are new.  We are guessing the book we sent him several months ago has helped.  It was a board book with pictures of him, each of us, the girls, our house, our dog, tractor, etc.  He is very protective of HIS book!
  • He is saying Mommy and Daddy & I think I heard him say sissy when looking at the book.
  • We are eating pretty good.  I am eating plain rice or spaghetti.  Chad is eating sweet potatoes, rice w/sauce, spaghetti w/homemade spaghetti sauce.  But to top it all off ... they have MT. DEW!!!!!!!!!! :)
  • Isaac loves to eat anything, but especially bread!  Any type, anywhere!  He will not eat the typical food here called poshoe (poe-show).  He LOVES fruit!
  • Isaac is using the potty!!!
  • Chad is fine, OF COURSE!
  • I am a sweaty mess.  It rained yesterday and I washed my hair in the down spot of water so I can keep my foot away from any water due to the injury.  I could have stood in the rain all night.  Everyone else here was freezing with jackets on. ;)
  • We went to see the old orphanage yesterday.  They moved into the new orphanage on Saturday before we arrived on Sunday.  I want to take every kiddo here home :(
  • We also got to meet the lady who found our son when he was abandoned.  It was a very emotional day.  It was the first time she had returned since dropping him off.  Just when we happened to be here.  She came to ask how the "found baby" was doing.  Very neat, but so emotional.
  • Isaac is so happy!  Biggest smile... :) Can't wait for everyone to see it!  He has only had one fussy episode when we arrived to the orphanage.  The thought is that he was afraid we were bringing him back and leaving him.
  • Court date is Friday, so keep praying!  Pictures will follow after things go as we hope on Friday!!

Ghost walk and Boy at the bins

These are from my sketchbook, they were drawn really small as were the last two drawings I posted.

We have arrived!

Just a quick post to let you know we have arrived safely and have our sweet Isaac.  We arrived at roughly 10pm (Ug*nda time) and got to spend some time with him before we put his jammies on & he went to sleep. Hope to purchase an internet card tomorrow so we can tell you more!!

Thanks for your prayers (both leading up to today & for the remainder of our time here.) :)

In the air to see him!

Said our goodbyes at school this morning.  Last family photo as a family of four.  Party of 5 coming soon!!

Nothing like a little drama for the day.  While unloading luggage at CVG a suitcase landed on my toe and .... toenail popped right off!
We managed to get an antibiotic, neosporine, saline, & bandages then boarded the plane as planned. 
On our way, Isaac :)

Real Space vs. Simulated space

Place is where we stand at a moment in time and space is everything else. Today there are many artists who radically revision the way we experience space in the 20th century.  Things like mass consumption virtual reality, cyberspace, and visual effects –tourism, video games, the internet and the cinema have assisted in the merging of real space and simulated space.  Is painting the medium with which to explore and analyze these new space experiences? Is it for that matter still a useful medium to explore those spaces our body normally moves through: landscape and interiors? Artists today deal with this reshaping of space. Franz Ackerman uses simulacra from things like tour guides in order to make large paintings inspired by visits to different cities. Tourism has made our experience of space into something consumable.  Fabian Marcaccio creates very large paintings which he emphasizes as acts partially by calling them “paintants” and partially by creating a pictorial reality that parallels the experience of walking and seeing. The artwork of Mathew Ritchie and Julie Mehretu spark the question, “has cyberspace replaced the space of nature?” Mathew Ritchie  says, “life has become so complex and so difficult to comprehend that it has become easier to create models of fictional worlds and use them as models or allegories to understand the real one. Julie Mehretu is an artist that attempts at embodying the all at once complexity of the city. Her work deals with architectural information to portray speed dynamism struggle and potential. Fiona Rae is an artist affected by the space of cyberspace and special effects, she says, “How can you not be affected by the way the titles in recent movies give a glimpse of deep, deep space or the way space wobbles in The Matrix”.

Has traditional landscape and interior painting been exhausted already? Is it time to move on to the scape of virtual reality, hyper reality, simulacra and consumption? . In the microcosm there is no relationship between cause and effect. Space is warped.  The world  and our perception of it simultaneously is vibrating, fluxing, like a trans-dimensional, quantum string  popping in and out of existence yet existing forever in the realm of uncertainty. In art, it seems that space is replacing landscape as the new frontier.   I like this idea except for my fear that this coincides with our increasing lack of respect for good ole fashioned nature.  With modern science, digitalization and cyberspace, perhaps we have a new escape which relies on a constant progress forward in order to upgrade to the next stage of virtual reality. Progress is good, and perhaps idealized escapes from reality as well. But I fear we may pay too much deference to the virtual and the simulated and not enough to the things that remind us of what we physically are, where we traditionally came from and what we are separating from. 

In this series I’m painting landscapes as augmented reality.  I grew up in Madisonville Louisiana spending my time playing videogames inside and playing in the forests, swamps, marshes, rivers, and lakes outside. My paintings depict natural decay and artificial replacement in the digital age. I'm exploring different ways to abstract and distort space to depict a synthetic landscape in the process of decaying to or being constructed from abstracted pixel-like bits. I’m interested in exposing our cultures tendency to escape into automated and virtual worlds like video games and cyberspace. I am concerned about how digital consumer culture is polluting both the mental and physical environments. I'm also fascinated by technological innovations like 3D laser scanners that replicate mathematically accurate environments. The images in this post are studies which i am developing in order to merge real space with virtual space.  

 This group of studies presents a good opportunity for me to explain a new method of mine using traditional media (charcoal, conte, pastel and watercolor,etc.) as well as new media (a scanner, camera and photoshop.)  I usually start off drawing traditionally. Then I transfer the image to photoshop in order to distort and simplify it.  then I print a ghost image of the distortion out on BFK Reeves paper and finish the drawing off with layers of my traditional media.  These sketches reveal my search for a perfect synthesis between real space and virtual space.  

Innocence of Muslims

The release of the controversial film Innocence of Muslims, which claims to depict the life of Muhammad, caused and outrage in the Muslim world, where thousands of angry men and women demonstrated and attacked US embassies.

Judging by the the thirteen minutes trailer on youtube, the film, which was apparently produced by an Israeli filmmaker,* is very discreditable and disgraceful. (It is shocking to me that it actually cost 5 million dollars, as it looks like a cheap low budget movie!) I worry that, to a certain degree, the film reveals how so many people in the West view Islam and the prophet Muhammad. It is a very condescending, arrogant, and unintelligent view that demonizes Islam and Muslims, and simply puts them all under one category as uncivilized and inhuman. Islam and Muslims, according to this view, are labeled as violent and sex driven creatures. No wonder that the West, and many Christians, still find it hard to understand and relate to Islam, let alone to build bridges with the Muslim world.

Dare I remind the Christian world that one day we were the ones with a record of violence and intolerance. We can simply point to the Crusades or the Inquisition. Didn't the Pope promise that whoever participates in the Crusades will be pardoned from his sins? What if others today judge our Christian faith by these actions? Or what if they judge us based on passages in the Old Testament where God calls for his people to kill the children and women in Canaan (Joshua 6)? I am not trying here to defend Islam, or to justify terrorism or violence. But instead of calling Islam a religion of violence, we must respect and encourage the attempts of many moderate Muslims who condemn violence and terrorism and try to portray a moderate view of Islam. In the words of Colin Chapman:

In this kind of situation Christians should be willing to support those Muslims who challenge the harsher Islamist interpretations of the Qur'an. Instead of suggesting that 'the Qur'an is essentially violent', Christians should listen to the internal debate between moderate and extremist Muslims and add whatever weight they can to support Muslims who challenge the more violent interpretations of the Qur'an, and who do so from within Islam 

The film also reveals the sad fact how few extremists can cause a lot noise and cause very unfortunate and tragic consequences. The makers of this film are just one example, and we can also think of the Quran burning pastor. Similarly, the same applies to the shameful reactions by those opposing the film in the Muslim world and the tragic death of the American ambassador in Libya. The attackers ironically feed the image the movie is trying to portray about Muslims. It was encouraging to see many in the Muslim world condemn the killing of the ambassador, and this went beyond the typical statements from the political leaders, as this time people went to the street to protest the violence.   Though one might argue that radical Islam is rising in numbers and influence, and this is indeed a worrying sign, we must not lose hope in our efforts of building bridges. Muslims are not all Bin Ladens.

Bottom line. We must as Christians continue to build bridges with the Muslim world. Our call is to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). We must break the common stereotype. The challenge ahead of us is to build relationships of mutual respect, without compromising the uniqueness of our faith and testimony, and without surrendering our values. We must treat others different than us with respect and dignity, embodying the Christ we preach in our values, respect and love.

* Since I wrote this blog, it was revealed that the alleged maker of the film is actually a fake person, and this was to conceal his real identity. True cowardliness.

Alphabooksbeasts: Q is for Qfwfq

So: my "real" entry for this week's Alphabooks appears (as a character and as a narrator) in a couple of story collections by Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics and t zero, as well as in a couple of stories in Numbers in the Dark. Yes, my friends, as it should be, Q is for Qfwfq.

Qfwfq is impossible to draw. He has lived for many, many millions of years, since before the materials of the sun coalesced into a star, and he has lived as many different things—a sightless mollusk, a pre-terrestrial vertebrate, an essentially human (if immortal) being, and even for "about fifty million years" a dinosaur. In fact, in the short story "The Dinosaurs," Qfwfq describes himself as the only dinosaur to survive the mass extinction.

He goes on to pass in future (presumably mammal) societies, though he is still really a dinosaur and somewhat self-conscious about his status as a legendary terror and scourge. I imagine that he must change form very gradually, when his form changes, perhaps over thousands of years.

That's the moment in which I've drawn him, awkwardly making the transition from dinosaur to something more human. I hope you can tell that his beard is made of ragged little kiwi feathers.

Qfwfq is a complex guy. If you're interested in serious speculative fiction, and you haven't read Cosmicomics at least, you really owe it to yourself to get hold of a copy.

Next week: high fantasy (you know, for kids).

Alphabooksbeasts: Q is not for Quickbeam, after all

Last week I hinted that I was planning to use some "high fantasy" for this week's non-Donjon Alphabooks. And in my spreadsheet planning stage for the project I had picked out Quickbeam, one of the ents in Lord of the Rings, to be my Q.

But I've had a better idea—a better Q character who is at least technically not a human being. I'll get him up on the blog in a few minutes.

Here's the thing: I've never actually read Lord of the Rings. I don't have much emotional investment in it. I started the first book, when I was too young to understand it, and I've never tried since then. I know the story, of course, and I've done enough research to know how Quickbeam fits into it. But I don't know anything about his personality, really. I didn't have a feeling for him.

It turns out that I do have a quickbeam or rowan tree next to my driveway, though I know it as a mountain ash. It was the source of this doodle, though I'm sure I could have produced a more faithful rendition of it if I'd been sketching from life instead of memory, or trying to do this in my "official" Alphabooks style. On the other hand, there's no way I'd want to draw all that fiddly foliage with a brush.

In a little bit, I'll get my "real" Q post up.

Alphadonjon: Q is for Queen Sonya the Huge

Okay, not only is my Donjon Alphabooks entry a few days late, but it's also kind of a cheat. I mean, Sonya the Huge really is the Queen of the goblins by the end of the first volume of Dungeon: Zenith, and we do see her in that role in half of the first volume of Dungeon: Monstres, but I mostly the other characters call her Sonya the Huge, and not Queen Sonya the Huge.

She's a giantess. That absurd balloon on her head is the crown of the Goblin King. Maybe I should have put her on a palanquin borne by a brace of little goblins—if nothing else, that would have given you a better sense of her scale—but then it would have taken another couple of days, I bet, to get her here on the blog.

Sonya's actually pretty fun to draw. Maybe that shouldn't surprise me, since she's pretty obviously a Trondheim design, and his characters are always fun to draw. And I think I must have been taking a page out of Rob Ullman's book when I worked out this pose, though as usual I think I lost something moving from the sketch to the finished version.

(What did I lose? A little assertiveness? A little sauciness? Some junk in the trunk?)

Next week: I have to cheat a little (more).

Borrowing Fire: Rewriting the Eulogy for a Boy Named Wolf

Well, after two years of intermittent writing and research sending me to 58 funerals for strangers, I have finished the writing portion of this project and am knee deep in editing with plans to begin layout and design on or before October 1 to have the book ready for my December 1, 2012 open house and studio sale.

This book has been a lot of fun. I have shared it with a few close friends and they all like it even better than the Niederbipp trilogy, which is humbling and exciting. I will be posting more in the coming weeks as we continue to make progress, but I just wanted to send this out and say we are getting very close now and I am really excited to share this with you. It has been an inspiring experience to write this book and I think this will be a book you will want to share with everyone you know and love. It would be a great Christmas Gift, but a fine gift for all occasions, filled with lessons of life, hope, love and grace.

Look for more information coming soon, but plan on attending the book launch, December 1, 8 and 15th.  Each of these dates will correspond with my annual Christmas Studio Sale and , back by popular demand, our house tour, where we will open our home to anyone who wants to see what we have done. We remodeled last year, adding on to our home and finishing it with 500 square feet of hand made tiles.  Most of this was completed last year, but I am still working on projects and hope to have it all wrapped up in the next two months.

Thanks for you patience.
Electric Boat on Lake Windemere, July 

Frog guy

Trying out a dip pen I found in an old wooden pencil case I got at a car boot sale a while ago. Probably belonged to a wizard.


Alphabooksbeasts: P is for Pooh and Piglet

I know I still "owe" Alphabooks a canine that starts with O, for last week, but I wanted to get this week's P post done and posted last night, and since it was nearly done when I had to turn in, here it is, slightly out of order.

But you already know: P is for Pooh and Piglet.

I cannot tell you how much I love these guys. They feel as close to me as siblings. I know stretches of the Pooh books by heart, or nearly by heart. If you have not read them, get on it.

Your heart isn't finished until you've read these books to someone.

For the record, yet again: Ernest H. Shepard is one of my cartooning heroes. I do not believe in the Disney Pooh. It is, more and more from year to year, an abomination in my sight.

Next week: rare letters call for high fantasy.

Why are Palestinian Christians Not Staying?

Last month, a very important conference took place in Bethlehem. It was organized by the Diyar consortium, and the topic was: "The Christian presence in Palestine and the Diaspora: Statistics, Challenges, and Opportunities". This is of course a very important issue, and Diyar Rev. Mitri are to be thanked for addressing this subject.

The strength of the conference is that it covered the whole of the Palestinian Christian community, including Christians in Gaza, Israel, and Diaspora. The conference concluded with a very helpful statement that summarized the findings of the study and the main discussions that took place. Many things caught my attention. (A pdf version can be download here).

It was encouraging to read that the number of Christians in the West Bank stopped declining, and there is actually a small rise in our number. Of course Gaza is the exception, and it is disheartening to read that the number now is estimated to be 1250. The overall situation there is very alarming.

It was also encouraging to read about the discussion that took place in the conference about quality and quantity. The focus should be on our presence and influence, and not merely on our numbers. It is impressing that "in the West Bank the church is one of the largest providers of employment opportunities after the Palestinian Authority. 22,000 Christians and Muslims are employed by the churches and their Christian Institutions."

In addition, the conference came out with a list of strategic goals. The list is very helpful, and does cover various areas, like education, identity, constitution, and creating awareness. However, this is where I feel that the heart of the issue lies. We can work on changing the circumstance, but the real change that is needed is in the heart of people. I think that we Palestinian Christians should stop asking: "Why are Palestinian Christians leaving?" and instead ask: "Why are Palestinian Christians not staying?" Before telling our people to stay, we must convince them why it is important to stay to begin with!

It is easy to point out the reasons why people leave: Political, social, or religious. Yet what is needed is to empower Palestinian Christians, especially the young generation, to overcome these obstacles, and to decide to stay despite the circumstance. Palestinian Christians must revive a sense of calling and purpose. They must want to stay.

Throughout the years, a big void, I believe,  was created (for many different reasons) between the leadership of the church and the people; a void that left us with a big number of Christians who are not practicing their Christianity. We should ask: how many Christians in Palestine know the basic teachings of Christianity? For example on issues like the Trinity and the identity of Jesus? How many know the teachings of Jesus? How many really understand the calling and purposes of the church? How many have experienced firsthand the liberating power of Jesus the Bethlehemite? How many have been touched and changed by his love and compassion?

Change starts in the pulpits. It starts when the church reclaims its calling to make disciples and teaching the words of Jesus (Matthew 28:18). This is the real work that needs to be done. It is the hard work, and it takes time and effort. But it must be done if we want a continual presence of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land.

Ready for take off!

We have been able to enjoy a three day weekend with our girls, but our house is quite chaotic!  Our suitcases are packed and ready to load the plane! We are going to take off on Thursday from Cincinnati and arrive back home (hopefully) Saturday, Sept. 22nd!

Alphadonjon: P is for Papsukal and Pipistrelle

This week's Donjon entry for Alphabooks features two characters who have actually met (or at least seen each other) in the very incarnations and apparel I've drawn them in.

P is for Papsukal, the son of the Herbert the Duck (and, I think it's safe to say, Isis—I mean, those aren't duck ears and whiskers he's sporting). He's a nasty guy, all in all, and he becomes one of the villains of the Twilight storyline.

P is also for Pipistrelle, the little bat who accompanies Marvin and Marvin the Red on their end-of-the-world adventures, though I'm not sure I've ever seen her called anything but "little bat" in the American translations. A pipistrelle is, of course, the littlest sort of bat that lives in Europe; maybe the people at NBM thought that bit of knowledge wouldn't translate.

Anyway, look, here they are in the same panel together:

That's Pipistrelle flapping under Marvin the Red's ear on the right.

These Dungeon books are so much fun.

Next week: at least they didn't translate her epithet as "the Gross."

Alphadonjon: O is for Ormelle and Okto

This O entry for Alphabooks is a full week late. What can I say? I've been busy getting those Animal Alphabet postcards ready, but I'm trying to get back on track.

Here we see two characters in Trondhgeim & Sfar's Dungeon comics, Ormelle and OktoO is for them.

Ormelle is a dragon lady, the mate of Marvin's son Baal in the Twilight section of the timeline. She's also the lover of Marvin the Red. She has a strong, independent personality, and she seems to know what's what. She's also hell on wings, when it comes to fighting.

I regret to say that I know less about Okto, except that he is a former bearer of the Sword of Destiny, and that he introduces himself like this when summoned from the mists of time:

I also don't have much in the way of notes of false starts this time. This is probably the dullest blog post about a chicken-octopus ninja that you're going to read this week.

"Next week" (in a few minutes): a little bat and a duck-cat.