Adventures AWAKE

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Nothing is really something July 31, 2009

statue_of_liberty needle artNeedle-eye sculpture

 

My friend, Ellen, sent me this link. Talk about individual creativity!

Abraham was promised his descendants would number more than every one in the sea… (Genesis 32:12)

God’s precious thoughts toward each of us outnumber them… (Psalm 139:17-18)

…and this incredibly focused artist, Willard Wigan, sculpts them. Get this: We’re talking about grains of sand!

 

Follow the link above (the one under the picture) and watch the ABC News story of what this talented man has taught himself to do. It is incredible. It is painstaking. And, it is worth a LOT of money because of its uniqueness. (Did you hear the part about painting with a hair plucked from the back of a housefly?) Recounting how he started doing this form of sculpture, Wigan explains how his teachers made him “feel small…like nothing,” so his goal became to prove “that nothing doesn’t exist”.

In watching this footage a few thoughts gnawed at me:

  • How inestimably precious each of us is to God — our Creator. 
  • It is hard to get my brain around Willard’s work let alone God’s! He shapes us on an even more intricate, quantum level — involving body, spirit and experience).
  • How painstakingly He designed every detail of my form and experience. (Rarely do I consider what God is going through as I struggle to be His vision of who he created me to be.)
  • The driving force behind Willard Wigan seems to be a woundedness yet — by sharing from this place — his wounds have created great earthly gain.

I pray Mr. Wigans has embraced his extraordinary value and purpose in the eyes and at the hands of his Creator. What an amazing gift!

 

Want an adventure? Read Psalm 139:14-18. Meditate on God’s perfect plan in your unique design. Looking at your life, how do you notice Him gently scraping and sculpting you? Dwell on the Truth that you are precious, prized and loved with purpose. Bask in that today. You are really something!

 

 

 

Yellow brick road of friendship July 29, 2009

Filed under: Creative Christian Adventures & Encouragement,Healing,Jesus,Journey — Amy Pierson @ 8:49 pm

wizard_of_oz

Friendship is an art and all healthy people work with the medium. Some are better artisans than others but — whatever the case — we are built for relationship. God operates in the Trinity. Jesus had the disciples. We are born into families. Dorothy had Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. It is the grand design.

So why in the last year have I had numerous conversations with so many who are really lonely? They have plenty of friends but few close confidants. They are delightful people who despite being engaging and involved with lots of causes, interests and ministries are missing something that only a deep, transparent friendship can provide.

I can write about this because I count myself in this category.

It seems I can’t beg, buy or build the kind of relationship I’m talking about. Trust me, I’ve tried! I’m not Miss Popular but people often tell me, “you know everybody!” and, I think, assume that my plate is full of “go-to” people. Quite the contrary. I long for those. On the surface we are all too busy but I suspect more truthfully we are scared. Scared to be discovered, scared to be known, scared to have the dark areas of our lives brought out in the light. I get it. Who wants to be exposed?

But, we all need at least one or two friends who will “go there” with us. Like any relationship, there is not a program to follow or a book to buy that can assure success in making friends. But Ican decide to risk, make efforts to be vulnerable. It doesn’t happen in an instant, it’s a decision to journey; a first step on the yellow brick road of relationship. Jesus didn’t hang out with pretty people, engaged in cocktail party conversation and coiffed to present perfection. He risked; dug in — investing time and attention in twelve (with a special focus on three). He washed their feet, confronted their pride, shared intimate  insight, and modeled compassion to the least deserving of their culture. 

In the Wizard of Oz, none of the others Dorothy journeyed with were perfect — all had huge holes in their character (or should I say, in their hearts, minds, courage and identity) but they knew if they could get to the Emerald City all would be saved. Once in town, when Dorothy discovered the wizard of Oz to be merely a man behind the curtain, did she reject him? — No. She freed him from the false self he had constructed. And he went on to help her find her way home, too. Back in Kansas, Dorothy and all her friends were transformed through the experience.

I can’t put the responsibility on anyone else but I can work on myside of things and hope to draw others over as a result. With my own transparency, I can hold open the door for friends to walk through — entering into new relational depths. With a click of my ruby red slippers, I can commit to tell my story to those I’m travelling with — the good, the bad and the ugly. And along the way, I can listen to their’s. “Realness” releases and empowers. It unwraps the dirty bandages we (and others in the history of our wounded past) have bound over our shame, cleanses the wound and re-wraps it with the clean gauze of grace. When this happens as a regular, intentional part of our lives, we are healing and we are healed.

 

Want an adventure? Assess your friendships. Who are you connected with and why? Who would you call a “go-to” person in your life, spiritually-speaking? Who would you call a “like-minded traveller” on your journey? What are you doing to grow that relationship?

 

Sick as a dog July 27, 2009

Filed under: Creative Christian Adventures & Encouragement,Food,Healing,Journey — Amy Pierson @ 6:06 pm

sick-dogI had big plans for a great weekend in sunny Southern California with my dear friend and our kiddos. For the first visit to our friend’s new home, The U.S. Open of Surfing event was in full swing, the weather was gorgeous and her house was darling! But along about Friday night — after investing in a nice dinner overlooking beautiful Laguna Beach — my body decided to purge whatever poison I had ingested earlier in the day. Lovely.

I was sick as a dog! Tired. Queasy. Wiped out. Even today, I still don’t feel quite right. “Why me? Why in the middle of what should have been a great So-Cal snapshot for the family photo album?” the puppy whines. Well, in order to make the meal count for something, I decided to look for a life lesson in the bottom of my bowl. So, here it is:

If I’m supposed to feed myself spiritual food, am I paying attention to the quality of what I’m ingesting? — checking expiration dates on what the Holy Spirit is up to in my life or am I keeping outdated food sources in my faith fridge? If I seriously want to “do some business” while I’m here on earth (Luke 19:13), I need to pay attention to what I allow on my training table.

Jesus said, he would spit us out if we were lukewarm(Revelation 3:16). Just like a well-cooked steak, my life is spiritually bacteria-proof when I’m fired up. Is what I consume hot, cold or lukewarm for Him? Is my palate even tasting what goes down or am I gulping down without discernment whatever is on the plate in terms of what I read, listen to, or am taught? (I’m talking sacred and secular here). To stay well-nourished — and preferably fore go the nausea/vomiting thing — I need to take care. It is not enough to just be well, I want to be strong.

 

Want an adventure? Learn from my unfortunate acquaintance with salmonella. Think about what you’re putting into your body — will it keep you spiritually healthy? If not, ask God to help you clean out the pantry of your practices and beliefs. He will show you what’s got to go.

 

Knock, knock! July 23, 2009

Who’s there?

God.

God who?

 

Want an adventure? Finish the punchline. 

John 17:13
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

 

Imagining, understanding and failing

From The Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

imag·i·ne

Pronunciation:
\i-ˈma-jən\
Function:
verb
Inflected Form(s):
imag·ined; imag·in·ing \-ˈmaj-niŋ, –ˈma-jə-\
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French imaginer, from Latin imaginari, from imagin-, imago image
Date:
14th century
transitive verb1: to form a mental image of (something not present) <imagine accidents at every turn>2archaic : plan, scheme3: suppose, guess <I imagine it will rain>4: to form a notion of without sufficient basis : fancy <imagines himself to be a charming conversationalist>
 

un·der·stand

Pronunciation:
\ˌən-dər-ˈstand\
Function:
verb
Inflected Form(s):
un·der·stood \-ˈstu̇d\ ; un·der·stand·ing
Etymology:
Middle English, from Old English understandan, from under + standan to stand
Date:
before 12th century

transitive verb1 a: to grasp the meaning of <understand Russian> b: to grasp the reasonableness of <his behavior is hard to understand> c: to have thorough or technical acquaintance with or expertness in the practice of <understand finance> d: to be thoroughly familiar with the character and propensities of <understands children>2: to accept as a fact or truth or regard as plausible without utter certainty <we understand that he is returning from abroad>3: to interpret in one of a number of possible ways4: to supply in thought as though expressed.

 

From St. Augustine: 

God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed.

 

Want an adventure? Ask yourself:

  • What do I imagine God is like?
  • What do I think I understand about Him?
  • How might either of these fall short of who He truly is?
  • How can I let this information change me and my relationship with Him?
 

At the heart of a cupcake July 21, 2009

Life is sweet and so are my children! So sweet, in fact, that they look out for their mama buying her sweet treats whenever possible. Yesterday, this was proved by the fun presentation of a Cinnamon Buttercream Chocolate cupcake (gluten-free, no less!) with my name on it. They picked it up while site-seeing with a visiting friend (we need to have more company, I think). The light, fluffy buttercream frosting combined with the moist, dark chocolaty cake to make the day for my taste buds. What great girls I have! Let me humbly relay some tips (or nutritional failures) on their upbringing.

I guess it all began early-on when we let Santa leave a trail of candy from outside each daughters’ door to their stockings on Christmas morning, or maybe it was the message sent when we prioritized a stop by Magnolia Bakery on our first family trip to New York City. Somewhere along the way they figured out that the occasional sweet is a treat. If there was any doubt, when my oldest hit the age of 9 her culinary gene kicked in. She asked for a creme brulee torch for Christmas and later took her first job at a bakery. (Guess who gets enlisted for dessert duty when we have a dinner party?) Does that make me a good mother? cupcakes

Oh, I know the evils of sugar and — let me be clear — I am not a sugar addict. In fact, I’ve been accused of being a little too health-concious in my pantry provisions around here. I don’t go much for grocery store candy or the over-priced movie counter collection of snacks. If I’m succumbing to sugar, I want the good stuff! I like an occasional fix of 60% cacao dark chocolate (as in boutique) or a little something at the end of a special meal. Apparently, I’ve raised my kids well — they look out for me on this score.

All that to say, God’s heart must have a cupcake-filled core. Especially when life seems heavy, I think He delights in delighting us in little ways; a child-like joy in bringing joy to His children. And, this day all it took was a cupcake to remind me. Cupcakes make me feel blessed — not in and of themselves but because of the lightness of their being. Especially with all the creative variations out there (I tried a Chocolate Maple Bacon cupcake in Boulder a couple of weeks ago, just for the adventure of it), they are fun.

I venture to say, no one ever took a cupcake too seriously. Whoever made the first cupcake had to be thinking either 1) “well, as long as I have this much batter left over, I might as well put it to good use,” or 2) “I don’t want to make too big a deal about this event so I think I’ll make an itty bitty cake.” Either way, a cupcake is a little taste of blessing…especially in their new, over-the-top translations. Even though cupcakes have become big, hip business — a blend of artistic, epicurean style and sophisticated taste — in my book, they are a recipe for two sweet girls to love-on their mama and a simple gesture of God’s sweet heart.

 

Want an adventure? Look for sweet things in everyday and share them. Find a great cupcake place where you live and splurge — either on yourself or for someone who needs to know your heart is for them. In Denver try, Lovely Confections, DBar, Happy Cakes (Martha Stewart’s favorite cupcake, the Cosmo, is here), or Big Fat Cupcake. What you will find is an artform — and a little bit of joy for your palate. Straight from heaven! Lighten up and be blessed by sweet little things.

 

A New Song? July 20, 2009

Ok, I’m too cheap to bump up to the WordPress level which allows video embedding but take a minute to check out these  two videos and then come back to my blog:

Axis of AwesomeAxis of Awesome 4 chords http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpB_40hYjXU

Pachabel Rant

Rob Paravonian’s Pachebel Rant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM#watch-main-area

 

What could my point possibly be? Should we be discouraged by this? — maddened? — how about Inspired.

If you saw my first, ever blog post you know that 1) I love all things creative, and 2) I whole-heartedly (as opposed to in a patronizing way) believe everyone is their own version of creative. I still do. From the marketplace, I learned that I am only as good as my last big idea…so what does that make God? I’d say really, really, REALLY Good at every idea ever conceived or yet to be conceived! Good on an eternal scale. The Good-est. As it should be…

Having attended two art schools and worked with the creative geniuses pent up in several advertising agencies, I have learned one of the basic creedos of creativity: “There is nothing new under the sun”. Funny that should come from the Bible. Every creative idea is a variation on a theme, a twist on a cosmic truth, a juxtaposition of judgements. Not just in art, not just in music, not just in writing, or business or public speaking — EVERY creative idea. However clever the concept, in a very real way, creativity is the ultimate greening of our culture — it is recycled! This means there is unlimited fodder for us to work with everyday.

In an almost manic way, Ecclesiastes 1 says “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say,  “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time” (verses 9-10).

So, should I give up and open a creative vein? No!

Specifically relevant to musical creativity, the Psalms repeatedly speak of “singing a new song” to God. Interesting that each time these songs come up they give credit where it is due — recounting His victory and glory in the earth. God is the Great Creator — the commanding Strategist, Conservator of earth’s collection, the ultimate Original. On our best days, we just copy His work. He is the One who answers prayers with ideas. And — no — they aren’t new to Him but when we drill down to acknowledge their source, our unique expressions are a “new song” we can humbly lift to highlight His ongoing presence through the creative ages.

That kind of thinking lifts burdens, brings joyful expectation, and calls out the fun of why we are here!

 

Want an adventure? Think back to your last creative idea. What was it? What did it accomplish? Did you think about the Source of your idea? However big or small it was, sing Him a new song of praise for loaning you the creativity. Next time you are looking for a “big idea,” brainstorm with God…and keep singing.