December 20, 2012

The Empress

Check.  This.  Out:

THIS, my dear friends, is a homemade printing press.  YEP!  Homemade.  And epic.  Made by none other than my sweet redhead himself, I hereby present to you (as I have christened her), The Empress.

They technically call it a Bottle Jack Press (instructions found here) due to using that hefty 6 ton hydraulic bottle jack to apply a CRAPLOAD of pressure to whatever is lucky enough to get sandwiched between those 2 lovely pieces of birch plywood.

Yep, that's a whole lotta sexy right there.  And I don't mean the press ;).  A real man spends a whole day of his weekend building a printing press for his wife in the middle of winter in a 55 degree basement :D

Everyone, The Empress.

The Empress, everyone.

I know we're gonna love having her around :)

October 25, 2012

I Hereby Begin A-Drawing-A-Day

With Sampson sleeping by the pellet stove:

July 12, 2012

Go to Seed

I used to the think that people who were really into gardening just didn't have very much going on in their lives.  They probably liked plants more than people and thats why yard work was all they could talk about.  I thought tending plants and nurturing harvests toward their glorious, life yielding destiny was what old ladies did with their abundance of spare time.  

But in college I developed the classic state of education induced poverty.  Learning there was a community garden near my house that would give me a source of water and a plot of land the size of a large bedroom for just six dollars a quarter, I hurled myself into gardening face first.  With wild, hunger driven zeal I hacked and tilled that awful central Californian clay soil and reddened my skin under the spring sun getting that garden into shape.  If gardening was what old ladies did in their spare time, then I had certainly underestimated the strength of most old ladies.  

Standing on the ready dirt one dewy morning with my hardware store bag of seeds that represented all the food I was aspiring to enjoy, I ripped open the first seed packet and dumped all 30 or so beet seeds into my hand.  In my palm's hollow, though I had yet to realize it, I held what would soon be more beets than I would know what to do with as soon as summer wore off.  "Well, I guess you just stick them in the ground…" I said to myself after half reading the instructions on the seed packet, " I guess it's that simple."  

so I did.  

And four minutes later, I stepped back and looked at my work.  It took four minutes to plant 30 seeds and my dirt plot, newly sown, looked exactly the same.  I don't know what I expected, maybe a sense of accomplishment.  But it was undeniable how anticlimactic sowing seed felt.  Kale seeds were even smaller and they kept getting stuck to my fingers, flicking everywhere except into my pre-planned soil rows.

It took just fifteen minutes to plant every seed I brought.  Each seed, as I released it, became a single, clear realization into my mind: "This is so easy.  It's just so simple.  Just drop it where it should go and the seed will do its own job."  Despite its visual modesty, sowing seed was so smooth and effortless and hope-filled, it was almost addicting.  The physical action of planting is what Jesus and later Paul would use to describe an invisible process: how man and God begin to be reconciled.   That each word of God is a seed, and those of us who believe His words become the sowers.  That God choses to reveal Himself to man by process, by the planting of a seed of truth that is destined to produce peace with God if brought to the right conditions in the loam of man's heart.    

There is no denying that the first efforts are the hardest.  Hearts and grounds are difficult to convince that there is the potential for real, brimming life hidden within them.  But the relaying of the seed of His message is immensely simple.  Simple, and often anticlimactic.  The struggle we usually have in planting seeds is not the planting, but the waiting and trusting it requires.  When the ground crosses it's arms and glares back at us, unmoved by what we have given it, we easily become discouraged.  But our discouragement is proof we have forgotten Who's seed we're dealing with.  We have forgotten that it is the zeal of Gods ardent love, wrapped humbly and elegantly in the message He gave us that sparks the first breath of a soul and a harvest from soil that previously could only sustain invasive weeds.  The success of the seed relies on the interaction between the seed and the soil, not the talent or good looks or even the tenacious desire of the sower.  

All seeds, including the seed of God's desire to save man, WANT to live.  They will grow and sprout indiscriminately- between sidewalk cracks or on sheer cliff walls.  Seeds will sprout trees, and tree's roots will one day rupture the very sidewalks that cities and towns try to contain them in.  All seeds, spiritual and otherwise, cannot be underestimated and their sowing and the importance of it should not be misunderstood.  It is a small and joyful action to sow.  The Creator of all seeds and salvation meant it to be so straightforward so that no ground would go uninformed, so eager He is to forever live with and within us.

And as much as our patience can fail towards the precious seeds we have sometimes shyly strewn, what is more inspiring or important than to see that which was dead come to life?   All those old ladies who gleefully sacrifice time, effort and money just to be a part of helping the ground respond to the information it is given have all found something: a kingdom in a field.  A redemption of sterile space.  An unpretentious investment producing immense satisfaction and order.  They, like the messengers of Jesus, realize the sheer joy of brand new life and just how exciting it is to propagate it, no matter what the sacrifice.  Though it may not seem like it in the moment, just a handful of His words faithfully laid within earshot of the churned, tender heart-ground that surrounds us is all that is needed to trigger radical, eternal vitality therein.

June 20, 2012


she needs light to live.

making this print was too much fun... enjoy!

June 6, 2012

print giveaway winner is...

and the winner of the print, folks, is sweet Kristina A. from back home in SLO (via Facebook)!  thanks guys for commenting!  don't worry though... i love giving things away... stay tuned!


June 4, 2012

New print in the shop!! Sheridan and Ruth

Poor Sheridan... will she know how much he loves her?

They are part of an art show I've signed myself up for in October- stay tuned for more!

May 28, 2012

Print Giveaway!

Answer the question below by leaving a comment and I'll put your name in the pot of comments from here and Facebook to win this print:

which would you choose for yourself:
-a tattoo
-a root canal


a name will be drawn June 6th!

May 18, 2012

chicken and noistrade

I love how this turned out and I love this process!  This is a four color linocut reduction print, which means i carve a little away... print with color... carve a little more away... print with a  darker color...

It's also called suicide printing, because by the time you get done, there isn't anymore block to carve and you can't ever reproduce this image ever again...


Also, on a whim, I threw some music I had made forever ago up on noisetrade-  check it out and see if  you like it!  Go easy on me though- I'm an artist, not a musician :)

April 13, 2012


poor out of place octopus... this could be a problematic situation for him...

do you ever have days like this? 

his only comfort is that i will soon turn this into a two colored print :)

April 6, 2012

"And purple all the ground with vernal flowers."

this tunnel of blossoms kills me.

I took these shots not only to show how lovely it is here in spring, but to show off the photo tricks my new Mac can do :D

smug, so very smug.

April 2, 2012

The sun, against all odds, embraces us... the cat is lost in silent worship of it.

March 30, 2012

What Does Worship Look Like?

Throw away the pictures in your head of people standing in orderly rows singing in a church.  Forget about pianos, guitars and even voices.  Right now, banish the mental concepts you've carefully memorized and filed under the category of "worshipping God."

Because I don't want to remind you of what "worship" has come to look like for you, dear modern day Christ-follower, but what it looks like to God.

Picture yourself sitting outside on a comfortable and slightly chilly spring night.  You have a mug of tea and it's kinda burning your hand a bit, but you're just staring out into nothing, making sense of the memories of the day.  Suddenly, based on some new information being radioed in from your sense of smell, all your thoughts abruptly begin to dematerialize and dissolve.  The scent of night blooming jasmine quietly glides into your unsuspecting skull, blazing tranquil and disrupting spiral lines throughout your well groomed brain.  For one divine split second you are able to think about only one thing: flowers.  It is a coup d'etat of tangy calm and pleasure.  Your never ending stream of thought has been successfully subverted.  Sensing you are starting to have a bit too much fun, the brain scrambles to organize a counter revolt and tries to bring you back to stress and worry and demands, but you only use this as an opportunity to figure out what you're smelling.

The scent registers as jasmine and in a thrilling panic you begin to take in gulping breath after breath,  frantically, greedily holding onto the reverie as long as you can. But your tea cools and your body chills and it's time to go back inside.  You enter the house refreshed and moved.

That feeling that the jasmine in my story has brought you as you smell it... the assault of clean beauty... the invasion of speechless, blanketing peace.  THIS, loved Christian, is how God feels your worship.  THIS is what your love does to Him.  It tosses Him down.  Seizes His heart.  Soothing, delighting, tranquilizing, if you will.  Our simple love brings Him pleasure, brings Him calm, brings Him brain shattering delight.

Somehow, God has a sense of smell (I've never seen Him, so let's both use our imagination on this one) and somehow all that we give Him turns to fragrance.  Noah knew it in Genesis 8 when God "smelled a soothing aroma" from his post-flood sacrifice.  The Hebrews knew it for thousands of years- half the point of a burnt offering was in the idea that God could could sense it by our equivalent of "smell" and that He wanted to sense it.  John knew it in his vision as God silences all of heaven just to receive bowls of prayers-turned-incense from His loved, blood bought ones.

Can you believe that we can affect God like that?  Why does He let us do that to Him?  His love- His hopelessly tender heart for us- has cost Him dearly, namely a Son.  He breaks every boundary of mercy and grace in the universe just to make Himself excessivly approachable to us, all for our love to be able to rise unhindered to Him.  How could such a small wisp of affection from us small, imperfect beings be anything worth "sensing" to Him?  And yet, in His wonderfully illogical addiction to us, our feeble love has become His pleasure, His desire.

So now that you've erased all you know from your "This is Worship" file in your head, add back in the guitars and voices.  Add in music and prayers and deeds.  But make sure you burn them.  Set them on fire, releasing their aroma high.  You do not stand in ordered rows and nice clothes singing songs before God.  When you worship Him you stand, in reality, like a bowl of billowing incense, breathed in and savored, pleasing and soothing and very costly indeed before a God who just loves you.

March 22, 2012

Dear Stressmonger Residing Within Me:

You have had quite an influence on me over the years and have become to me so many things.

You have been a plastic, insulated jacket I put on in summer.  I tell myself that your style is flattering and that the air around me should be this hot anyway.  I remind myself that everyone else is wearing one in these conditions so there must be a good reason why.  We as humans are known for how logical and wise we are in groups.

You have been a brainwashed choice I default to.  A hardwiring in my soul that trips switches in my brain.  I  have brazenly yelled,  "Release the powerful adrenaline chemicals, dear Stressmonger!"  No matter if their constant presence destroys me.  If it weren't for you, I might have found some peace and rest when I needed it most... which is a nice idea until I imagine everyone calling me an irresponsible hippy and offering me their own plastic jackets out of courtesy as I walk down the street.

You have made me believe that if I don't hold you high, feel your sway, I will shame my people.  Create a sensation.  Stand out.  

Because of you, I have chosen not to listen to Jesus, who tells me not to fear, not to worry, not to strive.  I apparently have not been ready to trade you for such lofty commands...

Why?  Because I haven't been sure what I would I do without you, Stressmonger.  Who would spend the lengths of time mulling over my treasured irrational fears, rehearsing and reliving them in my head?  Who is capable but you of handling these things so willingly?  I suppose this is why I hold you in such reverence.

But for how often I bow before you, I must confess you have given very little back.

Actually, nothing has been given back.

Actually, you take from me all the time.  You shorten my life.  You wreak havoc on my physical body and splinter my soul into whimpering pieces, stealing all the strength I might have used to revolt against you.  You exist where there is dark unknown and pride to protect.  You exist where I must have control or I will surely die.  You are my own private masochism.  And no one can help me because I see your plastic pressure jackets on every person around me.

Except for a few Christ followers I know...
Just a few.
Yes, I remember now.  They are so impervious.  They brim over with stillness.  I'm addicted to their presence.  They don't even strike me as "irresponsible hippys."  They pay their bills and work regular jobs and they give of everything they have and somehow there's always more to give.  I never feel like I'm taking up their time when I'm with them.  The air around them is redolent of grace.   It's funny how I am a Christian too, but have not understood what these people have... that maybe Jesus meant what He said with all that "fear not" business.

Stressmonger, is it possible that you've been lying to me?  That I can choose against your tyranny?  Is it possible to shed your choking heat for clean trust.  Because that's what this is about, isn't it.  You live off my self-trust.  You live off my pride.  But He, Jesus, says these are things I can spend.  Things I can trade.  The pride and the self trust are the price.

And compared to what I'm starting to see of you, trading my pride and control for the peace that exists where you AREN'T is not seeming so crazy anymore.

Ah!  But it's so radical.  I feel like an extremist.  Like an hesitant revolutionary.  I will surely lose all my friends and my job.  I will then become homeless and no one will believe that I am better off without you.  They will shake their heads and cover me (bless their hearts) with their own plastic jackets as I lie sleeping in the street.

I have told this to my Jesus and to my Christian friends, Stressmonger, and they tell me it isn't so.  That I will be so glad to let you go.  I would not be able to hope that I could safely get away from you, except I have seen it so clearly in the eyes of people who have let Jesus own and protect them.  It's so radical but it's so true.

I'm writing you to finally say this: I'm convinced we were never meant for each other.  Please take all your baggage and leave my soul.  I'm sorry, but Someone better has come along.  Someone outside of me.  Someone with grace and freedom in His intentions.  He is the opposite of you.

I probably should have broken up with you before things got out of hand and you were controlling every single part of my life, but Jesus reassures me that it's not too late.  He isn't afraid of the extent of your damage to me.  And frankly, He's just better company.  I'm sure you understand.

Cheers, my sad, controlling friend.  I expect you will try to seep in, someway, somehow, but know you will have my relentless and jealous Savior to handle if you do.

And now, I will know it too.


March 16, 2012

I love when

the post office runs over my mail and punctures the book inside.

They're just so good at maiming... it's almost poetic.

March 14, 2012

Including you.

He creates a stage.
He creates light (before the sun begins to exist, mind you).
Separates water from land and makes the land heave into green.
He turns His attention to the sky where He sprinkles strong and weaker points of light, like it's nothing to cast a sun into sky.  As easy as putting away the dishes.

He spreads His attention out to the heights and the depths- the deep waters and deep skies suddenly redolent with life.

Closing in from the outskirts, He lets things that walk on land abound.

And closing in even more, He makes one He patterns after Himself.  Later He will make another.

There is so much order in how God does things.  Peace and control and wild creativity, all under the sway of profound order.  He lets me spy on what creation on His terms looked like because He knows it will incite interest in my disarrayed soul.  I want to look at my life that He is creating each day- adding new things, conquering more and more darkness with the addition of light- and see it as ordered and under control.

I want to have a clear headed moment where I remember that God does not sit there with a hopeless, blank stare on his face when He looks at my life or the injustices of this world.  The blank stare and the sense of incurable inadequacy are all mine, not His.

If I know He's conducting this symphony we all woke up in with His characteristic order and peace, then there is nothing left to do but to breathe and follow.  Keep up with the music and the prompting.  Follow along with this song that sings to the world of abject love and salvation.  Simply play when my turn comes with whatever instrument He has placed in my hand.

Scary, awful things happen to all of us.  If we aren't careful we will start to believe that this life is just a roller coaster nightmare car that we are thinly strapped into and mercilessly intimidated by.  But I remembered that I have a Driver for this clunky jalopy and I look over at Him for hope.  He lacks the sallow panic I am fighting back.  He is relaxed and collected and has not changed since the beginning.  And no wonder- looking at Him changes the experience.  I suddenly feel like I'm slowly driving to the store with my over-cautious grandma in her huge Volvo.  I ask Him why the speed, why the hurry, why the perceived threat and He answers back that He's actually quite confident that the car is not careening out of control at all.  He answers back very simply that He loves me.  How could I not be satisfied with that?  How could I not see the art?

Our God who is governing us is known for both drama and peace, ravaging beauty and meaningful hardship.   For precise choreography and scrupulous organization.  Most of all He is known for victorious endings.  All He does is fantastically original- we never know what will happen in the story!  But we can be excited that His faithful motif of peace and order override it all.

Including you.

Let's have some more prints!

you got it.

linocut relief print

linocut relief print

linocut relief print

March 12, 2012

Isles and Inlets

Apparently the tide came in like crazy yesterday.  I have to admit, I was not excited about what I saw as I got out of my truck at the beach to survey my running terrain.  The saltwater had worked greedy fingers through every level part of the wide shore, leaving confused water trails very far from the wind blown, raging ocean with no promise of return.  The pools of water marooned on the mushy sand as far back as the dunes meant running on the beach was going to feel like running through a world made of porridge.

While I tried to find a shred of willingness within me to run on such slumpy footing, my mind wandered to God's history with the world and floods.  How He promised to never destroy the earth by deluge ever again.  How He promises us He's got the ocean handled and we don't have to worry about it overflowing onto the whole oxygen breathing world's living space.   What once overtook, is now bound in and reigned by His decree and this fact is very comforting.  If anyone asked us, we would say that we truly believe the promise, that the water will not go past His decree.  And for most of the year that decree is nicely placed in a predictable part of beach with no sign of changing.  But when the water comes where we didn't expect it and wretchedly alters the path we walk, did it disobey or did He decree it?

Has God lied about setting bounds for the ocean and screwed up my workout and  made me waste a bunch of time and gas?  I'm terribly willing to take this personal, God, I hope you know that.

O, how emotional and incriminating we are towards our caring God.

We have two options as Christ-followers and we must decide, trial by trial, which one we believe.  Either God decreed this inconvenient and seemingly random change in the landscape, or the elements of the world are more powerful than Him and were able burst His established boundary.  If the sea was able to break His bounds, then He really isn't in control and thus really isn't God like He says He is, and we might as well throw in the faith-towel now because He lied about the whole thing.

But if God did decree this temporary touch of water to land (I'm gonna go with this option), then the question becomes one of motive:  Is He is out to get us with this newfound struggle that feels so out of control, or out to prove us?  Is He out to take us down or to strengthen our resolve?

Judging from a million verses in the Bible, I have to assume that He is out to better us and our faith.  All us Christians nod our head and mentally assent that God always "works all things out for good."  That is, until we forget that fact in the throes of any type of pain and confusion and start thinking in our deep souls that God is up to no good with us.  We habitually and zealously resist struggle of any kind and heartily fear it, mostly because it's scary and we don't truly see the same value in it that God does.  "There must be a different option than the cross offered to us," we imploringly chant in haunted tone, while the truth that we know and fear and say we believe meets our escapist call in a strong and rhythmic response.  "Faith cannot grow except for faith strengthening challenges," it sings back to us.  "How does a muscle increase without being torn and taxed?"

This concept of living perpetually in God given learning experiences can still be wonderfully depressing and comfortless because we're still standing at the beach with our running clothes on and a sinking feeling in out stomach.  We're still focused on how awful it will feel to travel the road ahead and without setting foot on it, we've already decided we don't like it.

"But I drove all the way out here and wasted all this expensive gas and I made a mistake in coming here, I'm sure of it," I whine.  Because it won't be easy I am now free to automatically assume that a mistake somewhere along the line has occurred.  But I know what He would say if I turned my offended, childish complaint to Him.   How neither one of us, the beach and I, have made mistakes by coming here: both have come by loving decree.  And how a difficult life or path does not equal an unloved-by-God life or path.

LOVE!  That's what I've forgotten about.  Love that lasts past my temper tantrums and disbelief.  Love that has vowed to do what is best in and all around us, no matter what it feels like in the daily minutiae. This is the crux of all struggle because not only has God  promised to keep the ocean at a distance from us, He's also passionately promised that someday, in the end, we will be finished and refined.  We will become different than we are now, down to the very fiber of our blood bought souls.

This body of water that's supposed to be so "Pacific" has managed to refashioned it's environs into a completely different world.  But that doesn't change the fact that God has got the ocean handled. The world has not gone down in another flood.  I'm still standing on dry land breathing oxygen.  God has still done what He promised.

The ocean has been led a little higher towards us today, that's all.  And I, so that I can become stronger, have been brought to it's shore.  We have more in common than I thought, the ocean and I.  We are at the mercy of a sublimely wise and loving will.

When our nicely memorized, carefully coddled world feels more water and more wave than we prefer.  We hate it that we have to pick our way through a landscape made more difficult to traverse by what seems like a sudden mistake on the topography.  Why is this water here?  It's never been here except for today when I decided to drive a half hour to take a run on this beach!  Why is this struggle here?  I thought things would be one way and they are another.   

February 23, 2012

Permission to Rest

My Ian is a very eloquent man.  This comes from his ability to think about what he says before he says it (I'm so jealous of that).  Ian has more than once fought away the demons that haunt my mind or the worries that jump on my back with a single concise, truthful sentence.

Last night I was stressing about my health.  My miscreant, illusive physical being who refuses to be pinned down with any help or diagnosis.  I told my Ian the worst part of being so oddly ill is the thought of not only my future being affected by a chronic illness, but his future as well.  This fear comes from what I have seen for many years in my mom who has lived with a debilitating autoimmune disease most of my life.  I'm afraid of watching healthy, vibrant Ian be held back and limited because of being attached by love and marriage to my mysterious struggle.

"Ian, I'm afraid of affecting your life with my struggle."

"Cas," he replied like a mountain my puny muscles were trying to shake, "it's not up to you to decide how God grows my faith."

Wow.  Simple as that.

I sat there encouraged by his heroic heart and free from the fear that I'm going to ruin my husband's life, but convicted as well.

Convicted because it's not up to me how God challenges my faith, either.  Simple as that.

Why do I think I have any sort of control over this life that I, in theory, have handed over to God?  And why do I think that my opinion of the situation matters so much that I'm going to sit there and stew over it until God (you know, GOD, Creator, All powerful and Supreme) bends to my will and changes the circumstance?  Because obviously I know what's best, and I judge this by an omnipotent comfort scale that is always ticking in my head, right?

Ten years ago when my brother died, I realized that I had to lose whatever negative opinion I had towards God about my brother's death or I was not going to mentally survive it.  I had some giving up to do because there wasn't enough space in my being for the god of my feelings and the God of the Universe (which is always how it goes, you know).  I knew that it came down to His absolute right to do whatever he pleased in my life and my brother's.  It had to be, "Yes, God, I accept this situation- not because I want to but because you are God and I am not.  I have already, before I got here, given my life and all it's parts to you who loves me.  These things are non-negotiable and though I am wounded, I refuse to blame you or fight you."

I definitely would not have chosen to grow my faith by losing my brother, but God did.  And somehow He turned surviving into thriving.  Somehow He turns ashes into beauty.  Somehow I have walked forward from that situation better and stronger.  I have no idea how He did it, but if I perfectly understood God, He really wouldn't be any "God" at all and we really wouldn't be talking about faith at all.

If your God is demanding, impersonal and aloof, then the thought of giving up your rights and opinions in order to go along with whatever He wants is insane and scary.  Kinda like marrying someone you don't know (have you ever had a dream that you did that?  Worst nightmare ever).

But if your God is near you, loving you, full of grace, working all things not only for your GOOD but because He knows the wisest thing that needs to happen ("Cas, you're brother must come home though He is young.  It is the wisest, best thing"), then in giving up your rights and opinions to a God like that you will find so much more than what you have given up.

And it's true, because I've tested it and it works.  I'm testing it right now.  And you know what?  Rest truly comes.  Not because I used my mind to figure out the universe and demand an explanation from God so that I can justify the pain in my life, but because in God I don't NEED to figure it all out... I pretty much just need Him.  And that's how the deal goes with Him: when God's children give their lives to Him, God gives to His children the permission to rest.

Psalm 131
The Message Bible

"God, I'm not trying to rule the roost,
I don't want to be king of the mountain.
I haven't meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.

I've kept my feet on the ground,
I've cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in it's mother's arms,
My soul is a baby content.

Wait, Israel, for God.  Wait with hope.
Hope now.
Hope always!"

February 22, 2012

Dance it out.

I think that instead of JUST having to stop when the school bus in front of us waves it's red-lighted paddle (yes, it is called a 'stop paddle'), it should be compulsory for all motorists to get out of their cars and dance next to their cars for the duration of the stopping period.

Wouldn't that just give everyone a better, more adventure filled day?

And think of all the calories you'd burn and all the fun you would have if you were stuck behind a school bus... inspiring generations of children (and yourself) to not be so uptight and just dance it out :)

February 17, 2012

Everywhere is Safe


For about four months I have been having extremely odd health problems that the two doctors I've seen about it cannot explain.

My primary doctor sent me to a specialist, and, realizing the specialist didn't believe a word I said and was just wasting my time and money (a bad habit doctors have), I am now going back to my primary doctor today with no further answers than when I started.

I've been gearing up for this all week... mostly by harboring a healthy dose of anger towards modern medicine, the situation itself and my abject lack of faith towards a positive outcome.

And yes, at times, some of the anger has gone towards God.

Actually (now that I think about it) in being angry at the situation and the people involved, it turns out ALL of that anger ultimately ends up being funneled towards God.  Scary.

Here is the problem: I go back and forth between believing that everything is from God, allowed by God, and thus God's will and subsequent responsibility, to withdrawing my faith and hope into myself and seeing the whole thing as a mistake.  I am the victim.  God, the only one who can help me, hasn't done a single thing about it for four months while hundreds of dollars go out the window to fund medical tests that tell me nothing about the problem.

"Um, Rabbi... I hate to wake you up, but the boat is sinking and we're gonna die," the disciple said.

In believing myself forsaken, I take all the love out of my relationship with Him (after all, if He cared He would help, right?) and discover that I don't feel so safe in God or around Him anymore.  I then wonder why I'm so angry, tense and lonely in my spirit.

My jaw starts clenching extra hard when I sleep and there is a headache always loitering around the right side of my forehead.

This is a vile land to dwell in.  If I can't (because of my unbelief) feel safe with God and about God, then all hope truly is lost and safety is nowhere except in the shallow escapes that we all know our tendency towards.

BUT (Cas, listen)...  If those thoughts and feelings characterize a state of unbelief, then what about a life of REAL trust in God... what about a life where everywhere and everything is safe?

What if everywhere is safe?

Wretched, chronic disease.
The death of a friend or love.
The greatest fear that has actually happened.
A raging sea in Galilee.
A cross.
The very one He gave Himself to.  It was safe if he went knowing that God His Father had decreed it.  Jesus obeyed His Father rather than insisting on keeping His rights and comfort... and Jesus won.

Here's how every war, internal or otherwise, is ended:
1) utter victory, the literal breaking of the opposing force...
2) or simple surrender.

It's radical, but God recommends the white flag, and He points to Jesus and every other person in love with Him in the Bible as the example of it.  With "I surrender," not only does the war and agony of it cease, but His deep comfort swoops down on our battlefield and bundles us up in invincible peace and hope (which is exactly what we want and exactly what we did not think surrender would bring us).  This applies to every part of our hearts that maintains that tense, sniveling, self-entitled conflict that we know is there between us and God.

But think of the battle's end... where we stand clear headed at last, calm and unclenched, glad to be holding the ensign of submission.   Finally understanding how amazing it is to "just let go," wishing surrender to His authority would have happened sooner.   It isn't about getting my way in the situation anymore.  I know that whether a disease takes me down or He heals me, I will not be ashamed for trusting Him.

In this our struggle has once again proved God right.  Whatever we have "lost" in our surrender doesn't even take up space in our memories anymore.  We are too busy being excited about where He's taking us in His victory parade.

Well, doctors... little do you know and that's alright.

February 15, 2012

rancho guacamole

gouache on illustration board

thanks to a recommendation from audria, i have had the pleasure of working with a farm in Goleta, Ca. named "rancho guacamole" to create a fruit box label for their fine avos and lemons.

much, much prayer went into this little piece and i'm super stoked about it!

(and if you've never asked God for help with the work or tasks in your life, i highly recommend it.  He really does care about the small things in our world and wants us to talk to Him about them!  i learned this in art school after realizing that all the projects i prayed over came out better than i imagined and got better grades :)

January 26, 2012

Without Fail

Here's one thing I love:

The absolute.
That which is stable, unvarying, fixed.


Because fixed and faithful and sturdy is exactly what I am NOT and exactly what this world fails to deliver as well.

It was one of the things that God used to make me His: inimitable, absolute truth.  Something, FINALLY, to really trust in and stand on.  A rock my wandering wave-self could crash and be broken on.  Relief from the paralyzing, painted hoax of myself and the world around me.

So for those of us who crave what is certain, God gives us this simple little statement from 1 Corinthians:

Love never fails.

That word "fails", in greek, means "to fall powerless, to fall to the ground, to be without effect."  The definition gives the picture of a withering flower.

I never took a physics class so forgive me for an oversimplification, but the way I understand "energy" in this universe, is that it "never dies."  It just takes on new forms.  The sun feeds the grass, the grass feeds the cow, the cow feeds man, when man dies, he feeds the ground i.e. the grass and it keeps going.

This is a perfect metaphor for love and it NEEDS to encourage us.
And this is how:

Your relative that you have a hard time with who treats you awfully.
The checker at the store who's always in a bad mood.
A rebellious child making destructive decisions.
Your coworkers who think you're crazy for being a Christian.
The unstable ground of any relationship.

They are not above this truth.  They do not have more power than the way God set up his universe.  You cannot stop energy and you cannot stop God's agape love.  It may FEEL like people around you don't listen and don't care and don't respond to the love you give... but keep giving it.  Keep it up defiantly.  "Do not be overcome by evil, " writes Paul the apostle, "but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

No, the effect of love may not be seen right now.  Sometimes it can be seen immediately, but most of the time love takes years to change us.  God was not intimidated by the years it would take for us to come to Him and we need to have that same patience for others.

Don't ever think you're wasting your life when God has moved His love out and through you.  Because even if that love seems like it's not affecting the crushed and crumbling hearts around you, it will at least be changing yours.  God never works on just one level.

Martin Luther wrote as part of his 95 theses:

"by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man."

So take heart, little pilgrim.  You will not- will NOT- fail if love flows out from you. 

You may not see the results you desire, but you will know more of your God's heart than when you started and you will be living a life based on fact that is stronger and older than this universe we live in... a most refreshing state, indeed, no matter what transpires around us.

January 25, 2012

epic snow

well, i survived my first washington snow storm.  gotta say, it was pretty breathtaking... and near the end, annoying :)

my favorite part was watching the flakes fall: HUGE flakes- like some one was in the cloud pulling apart cotton balls and letting them ride the soft wind currents all the way down. 

[seriously... sun or snow, my husband is just good-lookin' :)]

my portly cat and i did start to get a little cabin-fevery... he usually doesnt sit and look out the window, but the last day we were cooped he sat like this for hours... longing, probably, for snowless ground.  i drew him over my bible study notes with a ball point pen, so forgive the choppiness.  drawing from real life is always a little funny :)

January 21, 2012

how to be invincible, part 3

don't let anything make you anxious.
instead, pray.
Christ is your only need.

anytime you DONT feel invincible, remember that when you are in Him, you DO have all you need.

this is a new linocut print i made for the new year.  i made it mostly for my own sake from a post it note i had written to myself after reading philippians 4.

i'll have these up in the shop pretty soon if you want one on good paper with fancy archival ink.


if you want a free print on regular paper with water based ink (pictured) then just let me know by convo-ing me on etsy and i'll send one out to you :)  it's a small image: 3" by 4".

let's hear it for our amazing, invincible God who IS all we are not!

January 16, 2012

how to be unstoppable, part 2

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has it's place.  But I'm not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God's will.  And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I've looked over and I've seen the promised land... So I'm happy tonite.  I'm not worried about anything.  I'm not fearing any man."

--"I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, April 3, 1968 (the day before his assassination)

Happy Birthday to an inspiring man.

January 9, 2012

how to be unstoppable, part 1

from BLB-

God is God. I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. It is the same spirit that taunted, “If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross.” There is unbelief, there is even rebellion, in the attitude that says, “God has no right to do this to fine men unless…”
Those men had long since given themselves without reservation to do the will of God…
For us widows the question as to why the men who had trusted God to be both shield and defender should be allowed to be speared to death was not one that could be smoothly or finally answered in 1956, nor yet silenced in 1996. God did not answer Job’s questions either. Job was living in a mystery—the mystery of the sovereign purpose of God—and the questions that rose out of the depths of that mystery were answered only by a deeper mystery, that of God Himself.
—Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor (Tyndale, 1981)

January 4, 2012

good words for the new year

"don't let anything make you anxious.  instead, pray.  Christ is your only need."
(my paraphrase of certain parts of philippians 4 :)