we started off our summer with a bang back in may, and now that we have reached the unofficial end of summer, i thought i would share our summer bucket list with you. i already shared it with you here, but now you can see that most of it has been crossed off. we didn't quite get to everything, but we had a jam-packed summer, full of both crazy activity and rest, action and relaxation. the list took us to danville, hazleton, new york city, elysburg, mifflinburg, and state college, to name a few. it included making pottery, taking a nature hike, making a fort, building a lego version of our local courthouse, learning to braid, taking a paddle boat ride, and having a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt. it got us to have ice cream for dinner, determine the best tasting root beer, play in the rain, make homemade orange juliuses and soft pretzels, go camping, see a new york yankees game, ride our bikes on a rail trail, see some awesome fireworks right outside beaver stadium, and go mini-golfing. and that wasn't even everything! it was fast, as always, but rich with great experiences and memories. here are a few pics from the bucket list:
i was able to spend some time in my art room this weekend, for the first time in a long time. part of the problem was that it had become an unmanageable mess in there, and i finally got the nerve to deal with it and get it cleaned and organized. as soon as that was done, i was itching to make something! i had a project already in the works, so i got right to it.
a friend had given me a family bible that was from the 1800's, knowing that i use them for all sorts of things in my art, and the one condition was that i use the cover to make a collage dealing with hope.
what you see below is a progression of about 11 or 12 pictures showing my process, from beginning to end. i start by tearing and cutting and just loosely placing things on the "canvas" to see what composition is most pleasing to me. once i find something i am generally happy with, i remove it all and get to the work of gluing it to the backing. in this case, i used acrylic gel medium as my glue. you'll see that i was also enjoying a cup of coffee as i worked!
finally, the story on this collage is that every element i used (other then the glue, of course, and maybe a drop of coffee or two), was from inside the bible, whether it was the pages themselves, or things i found tucked away inside. the title is a quote from psalm 119:74, "...i have hoped in thy word..."
"hoped in thy word"
paper collage (found papers, acrylic gel medium on hardcover book board)
tuesday was the first day of preschool for our youngest and perhaps most rascally child. it was a long-awaited day, as he has long been saying that he gets to go to school when he turns three. well, he turned three in july, and was very disappointed that he didn't go right to school. then, last week, when his brothers started school, he couldn't understand why he didn't get to go, too. finally, the day arrived, and he was ecstatic.
he loved it. he came home able to say all of his teachers names (although Miss Bev became Miss Beb, a change i'm not sure she endorses). he was energetic in talking about all the things he did and how much he loved it. he returns to school for his second day today, and looks to continue his journey toward being too ridiculously cute for his own good.
i was nominated by at least three of you, if not more. i was trying to ignore them. but i wanted to put an end to it, so here it is.
i had ice cold water dumped on me.
the kids loved it, it was all in good fun, and i am amazed at how much money this has raised for research into ALS (lou gehrig's disease).
but i have to say this.
please don't wait until some crazy trend goes viral on social media to get off the couch and so something radical and passionate for others. it isn't about attracting attention to ourselves or giving out of some kind of peer pressure. we really ought to be known as people who are giving all that we have and all that we are to one another all the time. whatever your "cause" is - whatever it is that God has given you gifts for to meet some of the world's greatest needs - then throw yourself fully and completely into that arena, and serve with everything you've got. let's not just dump water or give a token to charity. let's live lives of selfless love.
last week i wrote a little bit about keys. i had to share that dramatic story of storms, skunks, and shredded screens. but, in the end, the story was really about a lost key.
i've got another great lost key story. well, this one wasn't so much "lost" as it was "locked inside my car in the middle of the 'hood in downtown pittsburgh.' i knew where the key was. right on the seat. i also knew where the lock was. in the down position. it wouldn't have been that big of a deal, except that we were dressed to the nines, on a night in which i had secret plans to ask shannon to marry me. on the one night of my life when i wanted to be super-suave, i turned out to be supremely stupid.
she still said yes.
and i still got to drive my 1985 ford tempo home, after the parking lot guy broke into it for me in about 1.37 seconds, not really boosting my confidence about the security of any locked items in my vehicle.
but sometimes keys can cause so much stress. i have lost my keys more than a couple of times, and sometimes i only think i lose them. please assure me that i'm not the only one who has had a panic attack thinking that i lost my keys, only to find them either in my pocket or right where i left them. i am having an aneurysm about losing my keys when the truth is, i've had the keys all along.
that's what i preached about yesterday. Jesus has already given us the keys. we don't have to earn them or go to church enough for them. we don't have to do 15 years of intense bible study or join a monastery. we don't have to do anything, really. when we, like simon, son of john (matthew 16) have the courage to boldly proclaim that Jesus is exactly who he says he is (the One our souls have been longing for, and the only One who can save us from ourselves and the broken mess we've made of this world), then we already have been given the keys to the kingdom. we don't need to search desperately. we don't need to call some spiritual 911 and plead frantically. we don't need to make a discovery. the keys are right there. you've had them all along.
the keys to what, exactly? the kingdom of God. the way of life in which love wins. the kingdom is here and there and everywhere that love is the guiding law. wherever mercy replaces vengeance, that is the kingdom. wherever hope sends despair scurrying away, that is the kingdom. wherever light dispels the darkness, that is the kingdom. wherever redemption grows its way through the broken places, that is the kingdom. you might say that kingdom sounds far-fetched. and you'd be right. it is downright crazy. in fact, it is completely upside down and backwards from most everything you've been taught. and it is very real. and not only that, but you've been given the keys to it. all you have to do is start living like you believe it. start acting like someone who actually believes that Jesus is who he says he is. not just the stuff that's easy or that comes natural to you. but the whole loving your enemies part. and visiting the prisoners. and taking up your cross. and following him. when you start to live like it is real, you will make the most crazy discovery of all: it is real, and you've had the keys all along. you're not locked out, looking in, like me in my 1985 ford tempo, all dressed up with no way to get anywhere. you don't need to rip any screens or break any doors. you have had the keys all along.