Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

I've been surprised over the years how few teenagers have heard (much less sung) the old hymns, especially of Christmas. When I taught in California I included a unit wherein the students would analyze and recite the lyrics of various Christmas hymns. Usually by the end of the unit, the students had a new appreciation for the beauty and theology of the music that is too easily overlooked by a generation not used to quietly pondering the profound.

This year I took a slightly different approach. Since my sophomores needed to study short stories, I decided to make the hymn analysis a parallel assignment. They researched their assigned hymns, learned what they could about the authors and their motivations for writing. They also had to connect the hymn to Scripture. Then, as a twist, they had to use what they learned about the essence of short stories and create a story about the hymns they were assigned. All of the stories were creative and informative, but one student's was so beautifully written that I asked whether I could share it. It really isn't a short story, but it is a lovely reflection for Christmas.

Like a Blooming Rose
Mary Kelling

It was the time prophesied by the ages. A place had been chosen by a careful father. All creation lay silent, for it knew what had come. The stars even sang of its glory. A tearful mother cradled her newborn baby, and a proud step-father watched in awe. All of time had been preparation for this night. This night would change the world forever. Never would a more controversial child be born than this. This child would live, die, and rise for a change. This child would preach to hundreds of thousands. This child would heal the lame, sick, and blind. This child would fill the lungs of a dead man with life. This child would prove the prophets of old and discredit the Pharisees of new. This child would turn water into wine and sweat blood. This child would be sentenced to die, although no fault could be found with him. This child would rise from the dead, and this child would ascend into heaven. This child changed the course of history, but this child came without a sound. All of history had happened simply to pave the road this child would walk on. He was a child that had been anticipated for hundreds of years, since the dawn of time. Like a rose gently breaks the earth, stretches towards the sky, opens itself fully, and dies; so did this child.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Shack

It seems everywhere I turn Wm. Paul Young's new-ish book, The Shack, comes up as a topic of conversation. No one could really tell the story, but everyone talked about how profound it was. I figured I should probably read it, so I checked it out at the library yesterday afternoon. I finished it this morning (all 248 pages plus acknowledgments, credits, and review clips.)

It is an "other-worldly" book; I can't describe it any better than most. While I doubt it will have the same impact as Pilgrim's Progress, as Eugene Peterson says, I do think it's a book worthy of reading--more than once. Young approaches our perception of God in a unique way. I tend to be suspicious of authors who try to make God approachable and "human", but Young manages to walk the line between the Word and the Inconceivable without falling into heresy or silliness. Just as I thought he was headed into a doctrinal misstep, he came around with an answer that brought him back in line with fundamental theology.

I haven't read many fiction books that made me think the way this one does. I plan to read it again--more slowly now that I know the story line. There are nuggets there that I breezed past with the intent of going back to ponder more carefully. Lines like this: Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. (197) And this: Being always transcends appearance--that which only seems to be. (112)

The book is not hard to read, but the concepts it contains will take a long time to fully explore. I'm glad I read it right before Christmas; it gives me a fresh look at Emmanuel, God with us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kreative Blogger award

Well, now how much fun it this? I have been chosen by a fellow artist as one of her seven Kreativ Bloggers!

So, now I get to share seven things I love and pass the award along to seven other bloggers. So, here goes nothing:

Seven things I love

1. God! Without Jesus I am nothing.

2. My husband--even when he makes me crazy.

3. My girls--even when THEY drive me crazy!

4. The ocean's roar and the wind in the trees (okay, I cheated and snuck two in there.)

5. MUSIC (see previous post about that)

6. Learning. As a teacher, I find I learn ALL the time. As an artist I find new ways to learn.

7. My studio (aka my sanctuary). When I close the door I enter my own world.

Seven Award winners...this is hard, because the people who inspire me are so far beyond me in talent and vision that I feel a little bit like a movie extra handing out Oscars or Golden Globes. In any case, take a look at these fabulous blogs:

Heidi Arfstrom
Melanie Smith
Sherre Hulbert
Michelle A-Z
Marcia Mattos
Fabrizio Martellucci
Shelly Newkirk

And there you have it: seven incredibly talented bloggers with a variety of styles for you to visit for inspiration. Let them know I sent you there!

Gee, can I say I have an "award-winning" blog now?

Thanks Sharon! (check out her blog, too:

Friday, December 05, 2008

des Morgens ist Freude

During 2008 I took an online workshop through a book by Mary Todd Beam called Celebrate Your Creative Self. While time didn't allow me to participate in every activity, I learned a tremendous amount. This is my "final exam" piece, a mixed media collage using tissue paper, construction paper, photocopied letters, magazine pages, acrylic paint, glazing medium, mica powders, and Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel.

I created this for the JFBC "Glimpses of His Glory" gallery. The theme for this exhibition is "Joy." From the first moment I heard the theme, I knew that I would use Psalm 30:5 as my inspiration verse. An old song by the group Glad went through my head the whole time I created. The piece took me much longer than I anticipated, but I think the end result communicates my message.

Here is the write up that will accompany my artwork in the gallery:

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

No one escapes this life without sorrow. In a sinful world, there is no escape from its influence or from its consequences. The believer, however, has the hope of knowing that God is with him through the trials no matter how tragic. God's understands the deepest and cruelest sorrow, and sends the Hold Spirit to be Comforter during those difficult days, however long they may last.

Martin Luther's 1545 translation of Psalm 30:5 concludes: ...des Morgens ist Freude: ...the morning is joy. Just as the darkest night always ends with sunrise, every believer's sorrow always ends with joy. Joy from sorrow? Only because of Christ can boundless joy proceed from the darkess sorrow. Only in Christ is it possible for believers to endure the weeping of the night with the hope that joy will rise with the dawn.

This Christmas season is the ideal time to remember God's promise that HE offers hope, and no matter what the sorrow of the night may be, the morning is joy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Holy-day Season

I love this time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, the music---everything. Usually I make batches of cards to send out, but this year I just can't seem to settle on a design. So, this year, I'll send one-of-a-kind cards to many of my friends. I did take a short cut for those who prefer pictures to handcrafted cards by creating a photo-card, so everyone will have an idea what we're up to this year.
This particular card features a stamp from The Angel Company, stamped in red and then embossed with clear glittered embossing powder. The background papers are Bazzill, and the brads from my stash. I like this stamp because it is not necessarily Christmas, but it does capture the mood of the season.
I'll share more as the month rolls along.