Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I wound up with Sodom and Gomorrah

I finished this today. It's funny how naming something can sometimes be the hardest part. My other working titles were "One Righteous for the Unrighteous" and "The Scales of the Cross." I couldn't decide on which to go with, and Lauren suggested, "How about 'Sodom and Gomorrah'?" Perfect.

I painted this for the Paradigm Shift, the college group at church. We've been going through various aspects of prayer and this particular topic looked at Abraham speaking with boldness and with holy reverence to God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Genesis 18 Abraham basically bartered God down to spare the city, but never asked Him to spare it for the sake of one righteous person because he recognized God's heart and realized that there were none in the city. (Wow, that's a run-on.) The idea was then raised - would God spare the many unrighteous for the sake of the one righteous? The answer is found in the cross.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I love that song

Sometimes I feel like I'm a wild horse. I'm not looking for anybody to break me - I just want somebody to run with.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Parallel to the things we do

See these little guys? They're cute, huh?
(Okay, I'm well aware that this is not a cute or "artsy" picture, but I can let that go if you can.)

They're a variety of bird called Button Quail. When I took this picture, they were the same size as the length between the tip of my thumb to the first knuckle. They're about the same width too. They grow faster than corn and evoke squeals of delight and an exclamation of, "Oh how CUTE!" from most females.

After admiring the adorable little figure of the tiny birds, most people are quite surprised when I tell them that the birds are absolutely vicious.


Yeah. Really. Here's an example: the mothers commit infanticide. We actually have to incubate the chicks because a few days after hatching, the mother will kill them. It's quite disturbing. We had it happen once. The chicks huddled under her for warmth. She reached under her, grabbed them by the leg, and then flung them across the cage. The little chicks die if their legs break - not like they die instantly...exposure, lack of food, inability to get to water...that's what gets 'em. The mother also dealt out some harsh pecks. Naturally scared of the "predator" out to get them, the chicks ran back to their mother for protection. It was a sick cycle.

...And that's why we now raise the chicks ourselves with a heat lamp.

Okay, but the point is - if the response to the awful behavior of seemingly adorable little birds is one of shock and (mild) horror, what about our behavior as humans towards one another? ...We who carry the image of God upon us.

I'm just thinking about how we treat each other...or have the capacity to treat one another. While I don't think God is shocked or surprised, I do think it hurts His heart and I can't help but see the parallel.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wakey, wakey!

A friend shared this with me a few days ago. I still think it's funny.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Honestly now

Okay, honestly - it was a really hard week. And my heart hurts. I'm not sure exactly where the wounding came from, but I think a lot of it had to do with the silence - from my brother and from the distance I felt from God. Abandoned. I felt unwanted.(Having my phone completely die on my during the trip proved to be the icing on the cake of isolation.)

What a sweet relief tonight to learn about laments in prayer. In the silence, our pain - my pain - points to Christ. It points to the Cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I am reminded of Christ's love. He is majestic. What a blessing that He is with me in the midst of it - even when I don't feel Him.

My pain helps me better understand how much God loves me. Woah.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Weather Report

Jon and I walked down to Sun Studios and took a tour today. It was fun. And while Jon called it a "tourist trap" but patiently humored me by paying for both of us to take the tour, I very much enjoyed myself.

Coming back, we shed our jackets and sweaters in the sun, but we never really got hot. The air felt warm with a crisp edge of coolness to it as if to say, "Enjoy this. Fall is on its way."

I seriously think I might be in love with the bread factory. The scent of fresh baking bread hangs tantalizingly in the air whenever I walk by and often it wafts down to the street around the apartments. Today smelled like yeast. A few minutes later the scent changed and I told my brother, "It smells like fresh donuts - like when they cook them in the oil." He didn't say anything in response, but I decided to take his silence as agreement since - technically - no response was needed, I suppose.

There's something about this city. I had decided a few days ago that I probably didn't like it here. I would certainly never live here. But there's something beautiful...amidst the brokenness and the urbanity...something that calls to me. It's as if Memphis has a secret that it's waiting to show me if only I'll give it the chance and get to know it better.

I've never been in a city like this one before. It's not dirty like L.A. It's not destroyed like New Orleans. A few minutes drive leads to autumn-changing forest, tree-lined roads, and green fields. The fingers of the country reach into the city and refuse to lessen their grip amidst the broken windows of abandoned factories and the lots overgrown with weeds. There's a richness. Maybe it's the music that carries the city. The blues express the longings of the soul.

Life is hard here. It feels spiritually exhausting. My brother told me earlier, in reference to the casual nature with which the Christian life seems to be widely approached, "Welcome to the Bible Belt." But God isn't gone. He hasn't abandoned this city. He is just as near as He ever is, simply waiting with open arms for His beloved to turn to Him and His embrace. (I am completely referring to myself as much as anybody else, at this point.)

Jon and I went on an adventure to the mall late this afternoon to get ourselves "snap belts," as called by the girl behind the counter who sold us our buckles at Sun Studios. (The purchase of our buckles at the studio inspired our quest for accompanying belts.) The clouds started to roll in with an abundance of texture as the sun hung lower in the sky. Brilliant pink and orange mixed in the blue sky as white light broke through the clouds and smeared the gray billows. I stared out the car window window over his shoulder and marveled at the strength and gentleness of the wonderful beams that I could only describe as "God's glory." Tonight, the rain returned.

I was told today that I needed to experience the autumn weather so that I could describe it to others unfortunately unable to do so. So, here's my weather report: cloudy with a chance of hope.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Memphis Fall

Maybe this is what autumn is supposed to feel like. I’ve been sitting here, staring out the window, nestled into a broken lazy boy chair while watching the glow fade on the brick walls of the apartment buildings across the street as the sun sets. Yesterday it rained and today the clouds hang heavy in the sky, hanging even heavier and lower in the evening like an overly ripe crop ready for harvest.

I’m graciously being allowed to stay in the apartment of four skinny musicians – my brother being one of them. Together, he and I have walked down streets, sidewalks, and grassy hills as my newly purchased, gently used, Converses slap the ground. I’ve never jay walked so much before in my life. A layered super coat of two hoodies and a thin jacket keep the chill out and I bury my hands into the outer jacket’s pockets to secure the belongings there, to keep my hands warm, and to attempt assuming the stature of one who lives in Memphis. I’ve been here two days and I’m already tired of being stared at. I didn’t realize it was so obvious that I’m not from around here. My brother and I avoid sketchy alleyways and everyday I begin to become a little bit more familiar with the vibe of this city. However, I cannot seem to help looking people in the eyes and I am usually rewarded the smile or nod I offer with one in return. This is a strange city.

The trees are just starting to turn color and hints of gold or bright red tinge the edges of leaves. The smell of fresh bread from the Wonderbread and Hostess Factory floats tantalizingly through the air. I asked if they gave tours but was told, “no, they don’t do that anymore.”

So, I settle for a large mug of hot tea and watch the lights turn on in apartment windows as outside the late afternoon sky fades to night. This is a hard city – rich with culture – “the home of blues and the birthplace of rock and roll” – but also a depressed one. A sense of struggle hangs in the air – of beauty and life trying to desperately overcome the oppression and mediocrity that could push the soul into hopelessness. Well, it is a city, after all and I, for one, cannot shake the excitement and sense of anticipation that I hold with each new brick, abandoned building, change of weather, or autumn-tinged tree I discover.