adventures in set design

So part of my new job at Torch is designing the stage look for each new series. It's challenging - but it's also incredibly fun. The first set I did was for a 2-week evangelism series called Fierce Leap. In retrospect, I might not opt to spend 24 solid hours on a painting for a series that short - but it was fun, and it turned out really well.

The idea behind the set was simply that evangelism can be breathtakingly exhilarating (and a little bit scary) - kind of like taking a leap off a cliff into the ocean - but it can also as simple as inviting your neighbor over for coffee.

This is the full painting:

I am pretty sure it wouldn't have taken 24 hours if I'd taken the fabric off the back and painted it, and then glued it back on. But the effect of painting inside the squares actually came off pretty well from a distance, and made it look like the view through a window. I don't think I'll try it that way again, tho - I don't recover from all-niters as well as I once did!

icons, advent, chocolate, and rest

a fellow blogger posted a brief history of the "christian fish" earlier this week, and wondered how other people felt about Christian symbols in general, and i've been thinking about icons ever since.

i'll admit to being extremely influenced by Madeleine L'Engle's perspective on icons - her thoughts on the subject in A Circle of Quiet make much sense to me. it was Madeleine who helped me to understand the difference between icons and idols. an idol is something other than God that you worship, in and of itself. an icon points you to God. icons can become idols if we become too attached to them - if you were around for the battle of the shoes (about a year and a half ago), you know that i've wrestled with that. but the possibility that an icon can become an idol doesn't make an icon bad. in fact, i'd argue that we need them, whether or not we're aware that we need - or have - them, because without them, we are far too prone to get bogged down in the specific details of our lives and forget the bigger picture in which we live.

i love it when i see a fish on the back of someone's car. i love it more when i see a cross at the top of a church steeple, or on the back wall of an altar. or a Bible in the front seat of someone's car or in their briefcase. these symbols are icons - momentary and solid reminders that we are not alone - that there is a God who loves and saves us and is intimately involved in the details of our lives. reminders that we have an international family whose experiences, while different than ours in some ways, are nevertheless common to man - we are all, together, sinful, fallen, in need of grace. and we can all, together, find it.

there are words that are icons for me. hope. mercy. grace. peace. love. joy. freedom. there are paintings, poems, songs, books, people. doorways into God's presence.

liturgy is one of them. and i miss it.

i read Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith this week. there's a chapter where she talks about waiting and advent and the darkness that there is before Christ's coming, and it got me thinking about Christmas (which is what, like 12 weeks away now?!). and how Christmas itself is a doorway into something greater - Christ came, yes - and He is coming again. Christmas remembers, and reaches forward into future hope. and Advent is the path to Christmas.

traditionally, Advent is the four weeks prior to Christmas. realistically, Advent is a way of life. it's an active waiting, in expectation of what God will do, with peace, hope, love and joy - in the face of all that isn't any of those things. it is so much more than four weeks - tho we take four weeks to remember it.

i love that in some countries Advent calendars are made with chocolate behind all the little calendar doors. chocolate is an icon, too - a reminder that some things do always make you feel better. (Jesus and chocolate, right?)

so i am off to a day of actively waiting on the Lord: chocolate bar in hand; Bible, journal, pen; hope, peace, love, and joy seemingly elusive at times, but always there. there were too many details, too many distractions, too many things this week that cluttered the smaller picture and took my vision away from the bigger and better one. time to realign. to be in Sabbath rest.

and this very rest itself points me to Jesus. how good He was to tell us we would need this.


I've been reading a lot lately, and one of the books I am still valiantly plowing through (not because it's boring, but because it is one of the longest books I have ever purchased) is John G. Lake: The Complete Collection of His Life's Teachings - compiled by Roberts Liardon.

John's journal entries are very interesting, and one of the things I noticed as I was reading yesterday was how often he would comment that "so-and-so was wonderfully saved."

It is wonderful, isn't it? I forget that sometimes, in the midst of all the stuff that I do as a Christian and as a pseudo-staffer at my church, that this is all actually incredibly wonderful and amazing. Why is that? I mean, it's ridiculous of me to not remember that grace is a gift, and an undeserved one at that, and to therefore rejoice in my salvation! But I forget, all the same, and get bogged down in the worries of this life, and the task lists, and the lists of things that didn't get done on last week's task lists, and suddenly life is routine and boring and wonder lies fallow under agenda.

I want wonder to wake up. I want to be so captured by the night sky that I simply sit smack down in the middle of the driveway and look up for half an hour. I want to be so taken with the colors in the sunrise that I actually get up to see what beauty He will paint tomorrow. I want to simply stop in the middle of all of these task lists and be completely okay with a not-quite-spotless floor in favor of quality-time-spent with someone I love. And I want to remember all the things that Jesus saved me from, and rejoice with the deepest possible gratitude and wonder that I am indeed saved, forgiven, accepted, and wanted by God.

I am wonderfully saved. How do I even begin to understand the magnitude of that? But it is true. And it is wonder full.

random ramblings, vol. 4

Seven random glimpses into Happyland, as I try to wind down from a late evening and very obviously not decaffeinated soy chai latte:

1. It is Maple Scone season. Yay. And that's all I have to say about that. :)

2. I pulled my first all-nighter in I-don't-know-how-long this weekend, in a successful effort to finish the painting that needed to get done for our new stage look. It turned out even better than I'd hoped. Still, I am looking forward to not pulling an all-nighter again for quite some time. If ever. :)

3. I made applesauce today. I forgot how much I enjoy doing that.

4. If you haven't seen it yet, and you're a woman blogger, please go see Julie and Julia. It was a great movie. Cooking and blogging. How much better does it get? :) It was also incredibly refreshing to watch a movie that involved two healthy marriages. And I thought it had a pretty accurate take on the delicate balance of blogging and real life. That's all I'm going to say about it right now, but feel free to discuss in the comments. :)

5. Today was an incredibly restful day. A little bit of productivity complemented by a walk and talk with a good friend and an unexpected hang-out time with two other good friends who just happened to be sitting outside at the local coffee shop as I pulled thru the drive-thru (on an unsuccessful hunt for a Maple Scone. they are so good you have to get them in the morning, or they're gone.).

6. I found a copy of I.Q. tonight for $5.00. And yes, it is a $5 sort of movie, but it is still one of my favorites. :)

7. I'm re-reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet. If you are looking for deep, thought-provoking reading material that leaves you feeling more like yourself than you were when you started.... well, when you put it that way, the Bible is really better for that than anything, but A Circle of Quiet is an excellent complement. :)