Wednesday, January 30, 2008

you're never fully dressed without a smile

“You have turned for me
my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness.”
Psalm 30:11

This gives whole new meaning to the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The latest, greatest new designer from Milan has chosen you to model his newest line of clothing that is expected to revolutionize the way the world dresses in a drastic manner far beyond the change that brought pants to women or pink to men.

He looks at what you’ve worn to meet him.

He is silent for several minutes. Then he grimly pronounces, “Honey, you’re wearing trash bags.”

You are embarrassed and indignant. These are your best, most expensive, most flattering clothes! You’ve been so proud of the way the jeans have a slimming effect on your thunder thighs and child-bearing hips. And this top! It miraculously masks every flaw while emphasizing every good feature!

But…he is the expert. So you choose to trust his clothing judgment.

He sends you to the fitting room as soon as you sign the contract agreeing to be his model. His assistants take the “trash bags” you’ve been wearing and throw them in the dumpster.

You’re standing there, stark naked, looking for what you’re suppose to put on. There’s nothing! Not a stitch of clothing to be found in the roomy fitting room.

You glance at the mirror (very quickly, afraid of what you’ll see) and see a sign that says, “Smile!” Yeah right!

What’s going on?” you shout.

The designer speaks from the other room, “Gladness is the new clothing.”

In spite of yourself, you begin to laugh as you understand. His design is based on embracing a new kind of beauty: reality. What a revolution to the industry that is entirely focused on making the mask magnificent!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

let it snow (not that we could stop it anyway, eh?)

And now for something slightly more light-hearted.
As most of you are aware, Central Oregon...even the majority of in the midst of "severe weather warnings."

I woke Sunday morning and checked the weather, as I do every morning. A balmy 44 degrees with a severe weather warning. It warned of 1 to 3 inches of snow arriving during the daylight hours. I laughed. "It's 44 degrees! We're not getting snow! Crazy weather people!"

So I donned my Converse & a light jacket and headed to church. I was leading worship, so I had to be there at 8am. The roads were surprisingly icy. Interesting.

Around 9am it started to snow. Hmmm....

By noon when I left the church, the ground that had been completely dry a mere three hours prior, was covered in at least 3 inches of snow & there was no sign of slowing. How wrong I was.

Noel was on the worship team with me that morning, so between services we did a mini-photo shoot. These are the doors to 180...

Being movie stars. I know, it's amazing we aren't famous by now with these faces...

Snow-head! (yes, that's an insult)

Poor cold Elliot. He couldn't believe the amount of snow after 3 hours either.

And my favorite picture: Noel beating the snow off of her car (okay, she was actually swiping it off violently and the snow kept flying into my car window as I photographed her, but it sure looks like she's taking a swing at it)...

It's Wednesday evening now. The snow is still very much here. It's barely broken 32 degrees since Sunday. We got around 7 and a half inches (more in some places) on Sunday & it's been blowing around the past few days with a little bit being added to it here and there. It's suppose to snow another several inches through the night and tomorrow. We'll see.

I'm a little more trusting of the weather people now than I was Sunday morning. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the eternal now

“Live in the holy carelessness of the eternal now.”
George MacDonald

I’ve been pondering “the now” a lot of late. I suppose that’s what happens to many people after multiple weeks of unemployment, as funds begin to dwindle and you can no longer fill your time with activities that cost money. Pondering is free, if not always enjoyable.

There’s a line from the movie Garden State that I’ve always loved: “Have fun exploring the infinite abyss.” From a distance that does sound incredibly appealing, but the thing about infinite abysses is that once you begin exploring them it’s easy to get lost.

Pondering is an infinite abyss. There are some neat treasures to be found, if you can handle the muck you are going to dig up as well.

I found this verse the other morning: “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14 ESV).

You only have to be silent. Only implies simplicity. And while there is a certain simplicity in a single goal, it is far from easy to funnel all of your energy into one place. I would much rather have God hand me a lengthy to-do list every morning. To have a plethora of interesting, challenging, even boring tasks to fill my mind and body.

I just want to do something. Anything, but sit patiently. I found this phrase in a book I’ve been reading: “I was the sea, longing for the shore. I made waves” (Thomas Schmidt, A Scandalous Beauty).

I want to make waves.

But that’s not what God asks. He gives one directive: be silent. In other places He says to be still and know He is God. Or there’s the time He tells Martha that Mary’s “one thing” of sitting at His feet is all that is necessary. All that is desired.

And yet, after years of telling God that I’d do anything He asked of me, I am still learning that anything includes nothing. I want a mission. An objective. Something life-alteringly brilliant and thrilling and challenging. I just never expected (or desired) a mission that consisted of silence and waiting.

How do I remain in a constant state of meaningful nothing? Instead of knowing God in my silence, all I can do is hear my repeating inner monologue echoing loudly down the hallways of my mind: “Be quiet!” “Shhhh!” “Sit still!” “Focus!” “Hey you, Mind—shut it!”

It’s enough to make anyone crazy.

I know the last thing you should do when trying to abstain from something is to focus on the forbidden. But when I fast, I can’t stop thinking about food. And when all I want to do is to hear and obey God, my mind refuses to stop coming up with different ways that I could “help God” answer my prayers. Ways I could manipulate situations to get the results that I long for.

And still He says “be silent.” That’s all I have to do. And for an hour or two—three tops—I succeed. But then I get restless and in frustration find myself mentally rumpled, like waking after a night of tossing and turning—more tired than when my head hit the pillow.

It would be nice to end this essay of sorts with a Christian cliché to cleanse the palate after a potent meal of mind-boggling conundrums. But I can’t. There’s nothing like a healthy dose of reality to sour shallow, if well-meaning, phrases.

I will say that God is in control. That He has a plan. That His ways are infinitely beyond mine and I will never plumb His depths. But beyond that I will remain silent. (That’s what He’s been trying to get me to do anyway, isn’t it?).

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the other mr. sipe

A few weeks ago I took Sean Sipes' senior pictures (scroll down to see) & his dad, Michael, decided that he wanted some pictures for his business, etc. It was a freezing cold day, but at least it wasn't blizzarding on us like with Sean's shoot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

mlk weekend (not to be mistaken with milk weekend)

My college kindred spirit, Sarah, came to visit me for the weekend. She was my next door neighbor in our Freshman dorm (Pennington, oh Pennington, too close to the clock tower). We bonded here and there that year, but really began to appreciate each other the end of our Junior year when we traveled in Italy and Switzerland with a group of about 20 other students from George Fox (only 4 guys in the group, plus two male professors). Then, in celebration of graduation in the spring of '05, on a whim, Sarah & I met at my parents house in Junction City to embark on an adventure. We drove to Disneyland (me reading Peter Pan aloud to her; her making signs to put in the window such as "Honk if you're converting O2 into CO2" or whatever would be the chemistraic conversion for breathing). We then spent a full day at Disneyland (my first time there!). And proceeded to drive home the next day. It's a true test of kindred spirits to spend over 38 hours together in a car + non-stop time together in 72 hours and still be sad at parting when the adventure has ended.

We had a fluke warm day on Saturday, reaching nearly 60 degrees (though the wind was still bone-chilling).

Joey wasn't actually part of Sarah and my weekend frolicks, but we ran into him on our way to crepes Saturday afternoon. He looked so darn American with the flag waving gallantly behind his head as we chatted I had to photograph him...

Joey calls this his Patriotic snot picture...

Sarah & I have a tradition of getting crepes at Bean N' Batter downtown (it used to be Cafe Brasil and so is dear to my heart, although it's under new ownership & decor now). She hates this picture...

The fickle weather transformed at night and we woke to an inch or two of snow on Sunday. It has remained very cold since. In fact, it's only 4 degrees as I type this this Thursday morning.

Both of us Carell fans, we braved the cold weather to see Dan in Real Life at McMenamins...

So here's to Princess Sarah (thus dubbed by me in Switzerland) and bizarre weather in Bend over the long MLK weekend.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a boxen of oxen

“Where there are no oxen,
the manger is clean,

but abundant crops
come by the strength of the ox.”

As Proverbs 14:4 so eloquently puts it, life is messy.
If you are living a fruitful, abundant life, chances are, you also have a few piles of crap that need cleaning up.

As a neat-freak, I’d much prefer to have some stuffed oxen standing silently where I put them—making not a sound, and certainly not taking a crap on my pristine life. Then again, as an adventure-seeker that picture of life is so boring I want to cry right here and now.

I would rather live life fully and have to deal with the messes as they come (sometimes they come more often, when they run into a fan or something similar), than stand around polishing my lifeless collection all day long—not even allowing tears of purposelessness, because that’s messy and I hate snot.

I crave reality. Give life to me messy and real or get thee behind me! I want it raw and wriggling.

Couple creativity with reality—make the messes of life beautiful. In fact, embrace the beauty of the mess, please, please don’t ignore or mask it. Recognize it for what it is and move on—making art of reality.

Making new meaning of “from ashes to beauty.” It’s not watching the ashes magically transform, like Belle’s Beast into a prince. It’s looking at the ashes in a new way and finding them beautiful for their own un-transformed qualities.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

the doom of the deschutes

(this one deserved a post all on it's is definitely my favorite)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

katia & nono

...also known as Katie & Noel.
Although Katie had mocked my earlier house photo shoot with my roommates, she came to me in December asking for her own house photos. I agreed to the plan, as you will see below.

you should ask Noel for the priveledge to view her original "sticks" picture to fully understand the beauty of this version...

"I don't have any arms!"

yep, she's very pretty (and single)... is she (these pictures only half discribe how much fun Noel is to be around)...




this is their favorite...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

the multi-talented whitney

Whitney has been in my small group and cabin at camp, and has been a joy to my little heart. Her mom has also been my mentor for more than two years. Whitney is a violist (I think that's the right term for a person who plays the viola), an athlete, a singer, and a beautiful young woman with a great sense of humor. She recently survived a bad carwreck and pulls off a shaved head better than any woman I've ever seen. Here are some senior pictures I took late last week:

...these boots were made for walking...

I love the Central Oregon contrast of snow & tumbleweeds

...and...(drumroll please) my absolute favorite of all senior pictures I've taken thus far...

Monday, January 14, 2008

mr. sean sipe, the blizzard braver

Into the incredibly snowy weather of last Tuesday, Sean & I adventured. He is quite easily the smiley-est person I know. We were both soaked to the bone by the time we finished, but the pictures made it well worth it.

He's not really a cowboy.

He is quite the juggler, though.

Well, nobody's perfect.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

weekend with the family (or at least a half a baker's dozen of 'em)

on the drive over...just before hitting Mt. Hood pass...

I stayed at the Shire residence in Vancouver, WA.
My oldest sister, Kimmie, and her son Donny (just over six months old)

I also spent plenty of time out at the Twist lodge in Sandy, OR.
My other sister, Beth, with her kids (Katie & Jack) sharing popcorn on Saturday evening.
Jack discovered the hat my amazing friend, Gracie, made for me.
He liked the tassels alot (his daddy was glad when I took it back from Jack as I left the house).
I've saved the best for last, the reason for the trip...(drumroll please...)
My first niece, Katherine Pearl Twist, was born Thursday morning at 11:45am.
Here she is, two days old:
She has finger-toes, as does her mama & daddy (I got the Whittaker toes, not the Kjosness ones like my sister got, so my toes are probably about the same length as two day old Katie's!)