Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gallery Wednesday

theme: Decay vs. The Divine

"I think this card expresses the despair which often comes from decay. In this case decay seems to be a lack of connection. This lack of spiritual connection isn't fulfilled anywhere on this card. All windows are dark and empty and the figure refuses to see beyond the gray despair. I want her to see the blue film and look beyond it for the divine that is always there." - Melissa

See all of the Decay/Divine Gallery.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Intro to the Book of Judges

“Oops, I did it again.”
Britney may have made these words famous, but she didn’t originate the concept. In fact these words summarize perfectly the recurring cycle we find in the biblical Book of Judges, the events of which took place about 1220 BC to 1050 BC. The entire book demonstrates a national downward spiral of sin, suffering, supplication, salvation, sin, suffering…
The setting? The Israelites’ promised land, following centuries in Egyptian bondage and forty years of wilderness wandering. God had parted the Red Sea, given them daily manna, kept their shoes from wearing out, given them daytime clouds so the desert wouldn’t fry them and nighttime fire so the desert wouldn’t freeze them. And then He finally brought them home to the land of their ancestors. So do you think they responded in worship and love? Of course not. They’d do okay for a little while and then blow it. Over and over. And over. Oops.

Kind of like us.

Sometimes we learn from our own mistakes; when we’re wiser, we learn from the mistakes of others. The Book of Judges, if we pay close attention, will help us learn the easier way. (So join us here for a study that starts in March.)

Why the title, “Judges”? In contemporary times we think of a judge as someone who presides in court. But judges then served both as judicial officials and clan chieftains. And God directed ancient Israel for a time through these judicial-chieftan leaders, male and female. (The image above: Jael showing Barak the dead body of Sisera, whom Judge Deborah helped him defeat.) Our foray together into the Book of Judges will give us a glimpse of the Lord’s greatness despite humanity’s weakness.

If you’re imperfect but you have a big God, you’ve come to the right place!

Friday, February 20, 2009

February 23 - Java with the Judges

Get your book now for our Spring study through Java with the Judges.

On February 23, Sandi will give us an introduction to "Judges".
We'll begin Java with the Judges in March.

Get your book as soon as possible to be ready:
AMG Publishers

Stay tuned here for more details to come.

Can't wait?
Read an excerpt here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gallery Wednesday

theme: Decay vs. The Divine

"I wanted to draw a Barbie to represent the perfect, empty, false person I present to the world, but it was ironic. The Barbie that a friend lent me had slightly mussed hair, her leotard slightly off one shoulder and one knee duct-taped. I kind of forgave this Barbie because it seemed she'd been a bit battered by the world, like we all have." - Jodie

See all of the Decay/Divine Gallery.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Artuality: The Table of Grace

Each month, L'Chaim hosts a blog carnival in which participants celebrate the varied forms of art and the ways it inspires our lives. The theme for Artuality in February is furniture.

I am attracted to furniture because of the stories I imagine behind the pieces. How was it made? Where did the materials come from? Who made it? Was it a rugged cotton farmer making a primitive stool for his son to sit on and whittle by the fire after chores? Was it a highly-trained furniture maker tooling a cabriole legged chair with velvet upholstry and claw-and-ball feet for a wealthy British family? Did it sell for millions of dollars at Sotheby's last auction? Did a bunch of neighborhood kids find it in a chicken coop and heft it up to their tree house to store their treasures?
I just love to imagine who and where it came from... and who and where it's going to.

My mother owned a small antique shop when I was in junior high and there were few places I'd rather be on a weekend than milling around the antique mall while she worked, looking over strange and wonderful remnants of days gone by. My teenage-girl bedroom was outfitted in primitive antiques. I felt so comfortable there.

Here are my inspirational pieces of furniture for February:
About 3 years ago some neighbors of my parents were moving and trying to find homes for their unneeded furniture. Our family was the blessed recipient of a complete set- dining room table, 6 chairs, a sideboard and hutch, and a china cabinet.

Free furniture that is in gorgeous shape, with a beautiful finish, and is large enough for our family and several friends... and... did I mention it was completely free?
Sounds like grace.

I thank my God for those kind neighbors every time I enjoy dinner with my family at this table, or see the kids fetching their crayons and Playdoh out of the sideboard, or dusting Granny's thimble collection in the china cabinet. Every time we add another leaf to the table to make ready for a feast with friends, I recall the grace that was bestowed on us in this gift.

We barely knew those neighbors of my parents. There certainly wasn't anything we'd done to deserve their dining room set.

Doing schoolwork at the table of grace

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gallery Wednesday

theme: Decay vs. The Divine

"It honestly brings me to tears to see the beautiful thing that God makes out of what looks like just another layer of dust to me. I would sweep it away without blinking an eye but He writes love letters to me in it." - Beverly

See all of the Decay/Divine Gallery.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Decay and Divine

I find an interesting juxtaposition of decay and divine in illuminated books of hours or pieces like this from one of Dante's early works. The ideas and the pictures that illuminate them raise us to new heights. We ponder lofty thoughts and look on works of art, all on the same page.

Yet these hundreds of years later we find decay amidst the beauty. Yellowed edges crack and fall off. Places touched by human hands have marks where body oil met paper. Bindings leave flakes in the laps that hold them.

A used book store is full of such fading finds. A new store smells of fresh ink; an old one reeks of mildew. New books have perfect, white pages; old books have watermarks, dog-eared pages, underlining, and yellow paper. But what treasures one can find amidst the decaying edges.

Check it out: This site includes photos from old books as well as engravings of initials.

What is the oldest book you own? Does it show signs of decay?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Gallery Wednesday

theme: Decay vs. The Divine

"I hope this card elicits some sense of reality. War seems distant and unreal until we face it's ultimate sacrifice - loss of life. We can try to justify it but the fact remains - a lot of people are going to die." - Melissa

See all of the Decay/Divine Gallery.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mini-SPS Group: DIVINE

Today marks our first day examining our next theme:

As a particular compliment to last month's focus on "decay," I look forward to enjoying what God reveals to each of us. I have a suspicion there's a lot more to decay/divine than just a simple compare and contrast activity.

We're going to camp out on the Divine for the entire month of February, so there's plenty of time for you to observe and engage your life. And then, of course, share it on your blog or right here in the comments section on SoulPerBlog.

Here's a Shuffle the Deck question to get your thinking started:

What reminds you most of the Divine?
Take a picture of it and put it next to the pictures you took last month of Decay. (If it's a song or a video, play it while you look at the pictures of Decay.)
What are the differences? Why do those differences exist? How can you focus more on the Divine during your day?