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Showing posts from January, 2010

i am a pilgrim

i am a pilgrim. 
that statement is true for me in many ways, of course, but never quite so literally as today.  today i am not just on the journey of life or faith, but i am much more specifically on a journey towards jerusalem.  i will drive to an airport, get on a huge jet and fly to london.  there i get on a different plane and we fly to tel aviv.  then we get on a bus and ride to the ancient city where we will be staying for the week.  it's a far cry from walking or riding a colt, but it's still a pilgrimage, albeit a modern one. 
as i have prepared for and grown in excitement about this trip to the holy land, i have been drawn to the psalms of ascent in the hebrew bible.  psalms 120-134 are called the 'psalms of degrees' or the 'psalms of ascent.'  scholars disagree a bit about why these are called psalms of ascent, but there is agreement that they were songs that would have been song on the approach to jerusalem, and more specifically, to the temple (the …

dino cupcakes

the week of celebration is finally over.  he's had a dinosaur party, dinosaur cupcakes for school, and then another party last night with shannon's parents!  here are the cupcakes shannon made for his preschool class:  (isn't she talented?)


i just want to give a shout out to Greg C. who was the only one to give me any musical suggestions for our trip to israel. 
have a better than awesome friday.  check back in tommorow for a post about the beginning of a pilgrimage to jerusalem.

fingerprints

its been quite the week, between getting ready to leave the country for israel, taking care of jack (who has the croup), missing a bunch of sleep, and trying to do the normal stuff of the week, i've kind of gotten lost in the shuffle.  when i stumbled out of bed this morning and walked, trance-like, down the hall towards the vicinity of the coffeepot, i was stopped in my tracks by the sun shining through the front window, illuminating an appropriate symbol of my life:



that's caedmon's hand.  its there from the times that he and jack climb onto the couch (in various stages of undress) and wave goodbye to me when i am leaving for work.  its an oily mess, from one perspective.  but with the sun shining through it, lighting up my groggy morning, it looked like something altogether different.  it looked more like a reminder of what's really important: my family, through which  i am beyond blessed. 

what's your symbol?  do you have a marker of the mundane?  some icon that…

leftover candy canes and the croup

welcome to another random post today.  or, as it is more honestly called: the-i-don't-have-time-to-really-think-about-what-i-want-to-write-so-this-is-what-you-get post. 

-first of all, the big news in our house is that jackson has the croup.  (why do we have to say "the" croup?  [okay, nevermind, a quick google search showed me that we don't have to say "the" croup.  apparently that's just us.  weird]).  so he's been up quite a bit the last two nights with the coughing and wheezing and whatnot.  i've been warning him about his pack-a-day habit, but it's tough.  seriously, though, the poor guy has had a couple of rough nights.  hard to watch kids being sick.  i think he's through the hardest part of it now, though.

-one of the best part of january?  leftover candy canes from christmas.  awesome. 

-i watched a really cool movie last week that's been sitting on my shelf for awhile: blood diamond.  it was one of those movies that i kne…

jackson's fifth birthday

today my little jackson turns five.  its so cliche, of course, but i truly don't know where the time has gone.  i can't believe he's five already.  as i look back over his life in pictures, i am both lost in love for him, and shocked by the sense of what is already gone.  his baby book, for example, ends at five years old.  and so we close the book on that.  and on what else?  who knows...

and so, mr. jack,  i am reminded to continue to cherish the moments as they arrive.  even, or especially, the mundane ones.  i bury my nose in your soft sandy hair and breathe deeply of your morning smell.  i get out the sticky tack to hang another one of your colorful star wars posters on your wall, celebrating your love of coloring.  i put on the "shrek song," and we dance like banshees, lost in reckless joy.  i chase you around the house like an evil robot, merciliessly tickling you when i catch you.  and i do all of this with a kind of emotional net, trying to catch these mo…

dino party, part 1

tomorrow is jack's 5th birthday, and my mom and dad were in this weekend for part 1 of the celebration.  jack wanted a dinosaur-themed party, so we made that happen.  jackson and i decorated the room with many of his numerous dinos, and shannon (as always) worked her magic with the cake.  check it out:













delight in the word

i have seen all through fatherhood, from even before they were born, that my kids teach me lesson upon lesson about life and love.  it's just never been this blatant before.  God might as well show up at the door with a singing telegram.  it would be no more direct than this.

my two-year old, caedmon, loves things.  i mean, he just loves things.  he latches on to some particular possession - it doesn't seem to matter the real value of it - and takes it everywhere.  for the last few weeks its been the Bible.  not just any Bible, but my paperback copy of the message translation of the new testament.  this is a big deal for him. the book is about as big as his whole upper body.  and he takes it everywhere.  to church, sure, but also to bed.  and to breakfast.  and to the bathroom. if he inadvertently puts it down, it takes only a moment before he realizes it, panics, and goes into a frantic search for it.  at mealtime he puts it under his plate, like a foundation for his food.  du…

hoarders

wow.  it was 2pm yesterday.  naptime.  and since i had the day off, i just sat down on the couch and flipped through the channels to see what was on.  something on A&E caught my attention, so i watched it for a bit.  it turned out to be a show called 'hoarders,' and i couldn't stop watching it.  it deals with people who are attached to their possessions and can't let go of them.  there seem to be a variety of triggers for this illness, but the results are often similarly tragic: divorce, loss of children, sickness and disease or even death.  shannon and i watched three episodes yesterday.  anyone else ever seen it?  thoughts? 

i had a great nfl weekend (as great as it can be without the steelers playing).  everything that i wanted to happen happened, which means (1) the ravens are out, (2) the cowboys are out, and (3) phillip rivers is out.  i didn't really care about the other nfc game.  at this point, i don't really care who wins, but i'm pulling for …

rusty circles

in a world as broken as this one, where i notice rubble and detritus all around me all the time, i feel like part of my job as an artist is to make some kind of sense of all the bits and pieces of our lives.  i recently sold this collage, and the recipient wanted to understand what all the parts meant.  i always find that to be an interesting question.  for me, one of the things it means (and this is true of every collage i make) is that i believe in redemption.  i believe that even what is broken and torn and rusty and discarded can still be used for something.  it ultimately affirms my belief that God not only can still use me, but loves me, despite my brokenness, my tears, and my uselessness at times.  for me, art = faith.  not in ways that i can mathematically prove or explain, but in ways that resonate in my spirit and call me to keep looking for bits and pieces of broken life all around me, and to keep creating. 

and so i do.

here is a collage i made with some of the rubble of …

Lord, have mercy

Lord have mercy.

that's the prayer that just keeps coming out of my mouth these last couple of days.  when i watch the news; when i look at pictures like this, and even when i hear people spewing garbage like this, i just am overwhelmed, and can only pray, Lord, have mercy. 

on the people looking for loved ones.  on the ones who saw their children in a heap of dead bodies.  on the ones who have lost what little they had.  on the ones unable to fall asleep in the street for fear of someone hurting them.  on those with no water to wash the taste of dust and death out of their mouths.  on those with broken bones, unable to move from the places where the broken earth left them.  on those working long hours, trying to provide medical care or hope or strength or water, who have had very little sleep themselves.  on those waiting for medical care, waiting on hotel floors or worse.  on those officals and leaders charged with solving very public problems.  on those whose apathy blinds the…

louder than a giant screams

as i'm leaving to go to a meeting the other night, jackson said to me, "daddy, i love you louder than a giant screams and taller than the tallest building in new york city.  always remember that, ok?  cause i will always love you.  even if you go to heaven before me, still remember how much i love you because i will still love you, ok?" 

okay, buddy.  i won't forget.  i might not be able to believe it in about ten years when you're not saying such cuteness.  but i'll try not to forget.  as for heaven?  well, when you say stuff like that to me, i'm pretty much there already.  and i want to stand on the empire state building and with my best goliath scream let the whole world know how much i love you, too. 

the swirling mind visits the mechanic with the crazy hair

remember my old random, stream of conciousness posts?  well, here's one for those who enjoyed those.  welcome, for a moment, inside the swirling mind of greg.

*anybody ever get into the show friday night lights?  shannon and i have been working our way through season one on dvd, when we have a chance, and we just finished it and now have started season 2.  i love it.  i still can't tell if its a guilty pleasure, or if its really a great show.  either way, i'm enjoying it. 

*i'm at the car dealership right now.  just saw a mechanic come into view (it always intrigues me how secret the garage is at these places.  you can't see a thing in there.  its like the wizard of oz is back there changing oil and fixing transmissions) and he has the most unusual hair.  it seems like he has a receding hairline, where the hair begins to thin on the front part of the head, but further investigation reveals that he actually has two sections of hair on the top of his head.  it's…

caricature

i went to a party on saturday night for the local rescue squad (ems and firefighters), because i had been asked to come and give the invocation by some folks in my church.  i went, socialized, had a good meal, and then got a caricature done of me, which is one of those simple little things that i have always wanted to do, but just never had the chance to do it.  well, i got to do it, and it was awesome.  i am amazed at how people can do that: just look at you and draw an image of you like that.  i love this little guy, and am about to set him as my new avatar on facebook.  hope you all have a great monday. 


hypocycloid

i was recently commissioned to make a collage for a Christmas gift.  the person who commissioned me wanted to give the collage as a friend.  the catch was that the friend is a steelers fan.  so it needed to be a steelers collage.  well, i was excited about this, but i was also a bit perplexed about how to mix my particular style of collage with a collage with such a predetermined subject and palette.  so i got some materials and got started. 



just some art paper, some mod  podge and other basic tools.  then i gethered together a bunch of steelers papers that i have. 




next i made a large collage out of these papers by cutting and gluing and just putting things wherever i liked.  then i painted over this collage with a layer of gesso, which is a kind of white paint.  before the paint dried, i used paper towels to sort of wipe off some of the gesso so that you could still see the collage underneath.  it looked like this:




by now, a brainstorm had come to me.  so my next step was to make th…

review: switchfoot - hello hurricane

now that the nonstop march of Christmas is finally over, i've been spending a good bit of time living to the soundtrack of switchfoot's new album, hello hurricane, so i thought i'd give you a quick little review of it here at agent orange records. 

i've been listening to switchfoot since their debut album in 1997, the legend of chin, and they continue to impress me, even a dozen or so years later.  actually, in many ways, if you put the whole switchfoot catalog side by side, you would have one fairly coheseive whole, lyrically if not musically.  is this monotonous, or boring?  i don't think so.  i am reminded of a mentor who told me that i am constantly preaching the same sermon over and over again in different ways.  as a careful listenener, i think that is what switchfoot is doing, too.  they keep singing the same song in different ways.  the song says, "live your life fully."  maybe that's a bit too simplistic, but if i had to sum up switchfoot in …

the lego ketchup bottle

i've been holding on to these pictures for a bit, holding out hope for a home playoff game as an occasion to share them, but since that doesn't appear likely, i thought i'd go ahead and bust them out today.  here is heinz field:



and here is the lego heinz field that my kids and i made:




it wasn't as easy as you might think to put something together that both stood up and (somewhat) resembled the home of the steelers.  you can see below that i tried to emulate the spiral staircases at the scoreboard end of the stadium, the scoreboard itself, and the tiered structure of the building.  remember that i am not normally inclined towards these types of things.  it was hard enough just finding enough black and yellow and gray peices to make it work!  but it was a fun activity for me and the kids. 





















go steelers! 

happy new year, twenty ten

twenty ten.  i've been waiting for a while (about ten years, actually) for this moment.  now we can all save a syllable everytime we say the year.  do you realize that could save us, on average, 13.6 seconds over the course of two thousand t twenty ten?

we brought in 2010 by playing chicken feet with dominoes until 1:45 in the morning, complete with lots of laughter and a toast to bring in the new year.  today involves a great deal of football and food.  and sleeping. 

so happy new year to you.  i hope it starts off well and then just continues to get better. "good morning america" just had a choir singing "seasons of love" from "rent."  and it reminded me of that great lyric, and how appropriate it is for a time such as this: five hundred twenty five thousand  six hundred minutes.  how do you measure, measure a year?  in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife...how about love?  measure in lo…