Wednesday, February 29, 2012

....and the Greatest of these is "Courage"?!?!?

“Many People today believe theirdoubts and doubt their beliefs.  Has anyone ever seen an idea?  Seen love? Seen faith?  The reality is, though that we can see the results of an idea.  We can see the acts of faith & love, but the real things—the lasting things—in the world are invisible, spiritual realities.” –Pastor Rick Warren
At the end of last semester, my colleague Katie and I were discussing the depravity of makind and the deficit of intangible things such as love, joy, hope, peace, faith, and courage.  As cohabitants on planet earth, it seems it is our duty to help provide this to those around us….and so we hatched a plan to distribute precisely these things.  …..but sadly we too were running short on the “intangles,” sleep & time….so our plan was shelved for a later date. 
Two weeks ago however, we put our plan into action, hanging 7 of these signs around the upper portion of our building.
….and then waited….
The results have been surprising.  Of the three words we chose, I assumed “Hope” would be the most popular; I was WRONG…it’s “Courage”!
Out of 28 possible tabs for each word:
Day #1:   4 “Faith” - 10 “Hope” – 15 “Courage”
Day #2:   9 “Faith” – 13 “Hope” – 17 “Courage”
Day #14:  12 “Faith” – 13 “Hope” – 23 “Courage”
This project has now been expanded to a total of seven buildings on campus.  There has been discussion as to how students of differing majors may react……although I have no intention to try quantify this.  My hope is rather that those who need “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Courage” find it and that these signs remind the rest of us to encourage each person we come into contact with.
If you are interested in hanging these signs on a bulletin board near you, email MONKe@TheExtraordinarilyMundaneLife.com.....and we’ll get a printable .pdf to you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dear Jacksonville, NC

As I make my way back to you at the end of my trip to Colorado Springs I'm beginning to think that our relationship just isn't working out. I'll always like you as a friend but I'm not sure we can ever be more than that. You simply don't seem to be able to offer what I'm looking for in a permanent relationship.

Every time I travel I'm reminded of just how much you don't have to offer. Colorado Springs had the comfortable feel of a small city, like you, despite actually being much larger. And having that comfortable feel coupled with the perks of the better selection of activities and opportunities found in a larger city makes Colorado look really good when compared to you.

And then there's this.


You don't offer views like this anywhere. Oh sure there's the sunrise over the Atlantic and that is pretty great but you only get it once a day and only at a really unreasonable hour. This view on the other hand is there all day every day.

And then there were all the other little things. City layouts that actually seemed preplanned; rather yours which I think were drawn by chimps with a set of crayons 5 minutes before construction began. Tumbleweed which is awesome to watch and leaves you constantly anticipating a good old fashioned shoot out at high noon. Snow; of which I am a fan. And it doesn't hurt that not every woman my age in Colorado Springs is already married.

And this has been true of pretty much every place I have traveled outside of your confines.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is; we can still hang out but I think that's as far as it's going to go. I can't say for certain where I will end up but I'm looking for someplace more compatible with my life and where I want my life to be heading.

I wish I could tell you that it's not you it's me; but let's be honest. It's you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Have Your Cake and Eat it too

Dear Lovely Lady (whether you think you are or not)—
Today I want to tell you it is okay to have your cake and eat it too. 
Magazines, TV, and movies are telling us we aren’t beautiful unless we’re thin, tall, and SEXY…..but that’s not true.  What makes you lovely is on the inside.  You’ve heard this before and my message is not different….just a reminder to embrace each day as an epic adventure…..encourage someone else to be more than they are today…..push yourself farther and harder than you’ve ever pushed……to find friends that will travel this path with you, laughing together as you tumble through life. 
You are all strong and made in the image of your maker to be more than you ever imagined possible.  Most days you take life by the horns and do what is necessary to be that better you…..but some days….it’s time to throw caution to the wind & eat that cupcake whilst wearing a bikini.
Why?  Because you’re beautiful.
Love
e

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mun(day)ne 400; Or A Year A Month And Five Days In Review

As I was pondering my options for potential content with which to pack today's post, I always plan these things out at least five minutes in advance as I like to be well prepared, and it occurred to me that the blog had somehow slipped past it's first birthday without anyone taking notice.

I feel a cake is in order. Of course I generally do. Perhaps tomorrow I'll make that happen. But for now a few thoughts on where we are and where we're going.

Back on Mun(day)ne 1 I really wasn't certain how long this thing would last. I'm somewhat notorious for becoming bored with projects and activities; moving from one thing to another on a whim. Given that propensity I had no idea if I would be able to successfully maintain anything that resembled a regular posting schedule.

But somehow, actually in large part due to my wonderful coauthor, here we are 400 days later still posting away. And here I think we will remain for sometime to come. I've come to realize that as an outlet for whatever is on my mind at any given moment the blog can change shift gears and adapt to wherever the winds and whims should take me. And that if anything my tendency to jump from one thing to the next is a large part of what makes this whole blog endeavor work for me.

It's been a crazy ride so far. I've attended, and participated in, more weddings since this began then in the entire rest of my life. There have been new family members born, monkeys photographed, old friends caught up with, concerts attended, and always plenty of toast. I can't wait to see what the next 400 days will bring. I believe it will be awesome.

So a big thanks to the people who make this possible, the people that have shared their lives with me, and to the people who let me share their lives with you.

And remember it doesn't matter how mundane your life seems. Every day is extraordinary.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There's yer sign.

You may be an artist if you’ve ever seen a Rorschach test and thought “Dang…..my ink bottle’s leaking AGAIN!!”
A recent open art call required interpretation of an “ink blot.”  …..and the first thing on my mind is…..Mind the Ink…..You’re making a mess….
…..but on 2nd thought……I saw LUNCH!
….nom….nom….nom….

…..and just in case you’ve ever asked God for a sign as to whether or not He loves you…..
Here’s your sign….really. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Luke; Come To The Dork Side

You may have realized by now that I am something of a nerd, and yes I can use the n-word because I am one, and if you haven't realized this by now you must be new here.

I know at first glance I might not fit your preconceived notions concerning how a nerd should appear and behave. After all I have impeccable personal hygiene, function normally in polite society, dress well, I don't speak elvish or Klingon and do understand the basic workings of most major sports.

That said I would probably recognize elvish and Klingon if I heard them, I could speak ad nauseum on Fox canceling the best sci-fi show ever made and how George Lucas is ruining Star Wars. I know what a T.A.R.D.I.S. is and what the acronym means, and I have a conviction, not an opinion, on the matter of whether Kirk or Picard is the better captain.

Given all this it should come as no surprise that my childhood was rife with nerd related activity. Chief among these activities was the collectible card game (CCG). And the king among these CCGs was Star Wars. I played every chance I got; and one year even convinced my folks, who were wonderfully accommodating, to take me to the world championship tournament. I made it to the semi final round in that tournament and ranked among the top hundred players in the world; which as a kid seemed like the pinnacle of human achievement.

So when I saw an unopened box of cards from a game, now over a decade out of print, that was as much a major player in my childhood as I was of the game; I couldn't pass up the chance to relive some of those childhood memories.

And I have to tell you it was worth every penny. I felt like a kid again opening each pack of cards and pouring over the contents; contemplating how I could use the various cards to construct a game winning deck. That alone would have been enough to justify the expense but the cards just kept giving as one of the packs I opened contained a particularly rare and powerful Lord Vader card.


This was a card I'd always wanted but never been able to get my hands on as a kid and to finally have one, even after all these years, felt like winning the lottery.

So take a piece of friendly advice from the resident nerd. The next time you pass something out of your childhood on a shelf or come across it in a box of your old stuff; go ahead and pick it up. Forget that you're "too old" to play with toys anymore. Be it a Barbie or maybe some old Legos take a minute to play with it like you would have when you were a kid. Relive those memories and, if only for a moment, let all the "grown up" worries, cares, and concerns slip away. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how much joy those childhood things can still bring you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reflections...

My favorite part of life experiences are memories.



.….today seems like a day to reflect on them. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chalk it up to experience.....


……but LOVE is hard work!


It’s Valentine’s Day AGAIN. 

 Three years ago, I thought I knew a LOT about LOVE.  …..but learning to love in the midst of a storm has been the most amazing and exhilarating experience of my life.  I’m not perfect & I’m certain you aren’t perfect either.  But there’s beauty in that imperfection…..grace is found in the grittiness of the everyday…..and it’s LOVE that stands the test of time that I love the most.



LOVE GOD.
LOVE OTHERS
….AND SERVE THE WORLD….today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Watching Paint Dry

…..which is better than watching dry paint do nothing.
This week I switched over from using charcoal to “sketching” with paint.  This process is much more enjoyable for me.  As my painting style has developed I’ve discovered I enjoy glazing (painting with very thin watery layers) most.  On Thursday I posted about the drips on the floor as a result of my painting  below is the paint “sketch” & the subsequent drips. 

I'm excited where this set of "collateral damage" paintings may go.  I'm thinking about showing them together as dipticts.  Could make for an interesting show theme.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Druthers

As I’ve discovered, if I had my druthers, I’D PAINT.  …..which is a luxury not always afforded me (sometimes I have to use charcoal or other lesser mediums)…..however, that is not the case this week.  My “real” paintings are coming along nicely and I will share some of them at a later date, but one of the things that I’ve come to enjoy are the “collateral” paintings, like the one featured below. 
There is often great beauty in the midst of a mess, if only we stop to look.  Slow down....pause....find the beauty and share it with the world.


I’ve come to the conclusion that it is time to place a canvas down to catch them.  I will reveal the results forthwith.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Of Light and Dark

I find it telling that the very first thing God did after creating the universe was create light and separate the light from the darkness. In that moment we see the universe as it is. Darkness the natural state and apart from God's intervention devoid of light. The reality here is the universe in its entirety as allegory for the redeeming work of God. The very first acts of creation illustrating all that was to follow...

As humans we are born into darkness. Separated from the light of God by the shroud of death that is our sin. Even so the heart of man yearns for the light. Oh, certainly we love the darkness for how it hides our retched forms. For the way it cloaks our wickedness. But we also fear the dark; cowering in the corners of our lives for fear of facing the monsters which roam the night. Monsters which have no place in the light. So even as we embrace the night still our souls yearn for the light. After all when we venture into the night it is not the darkness but the daggers of light which pierce the veil above that draw our eyes. The aurora on the horizon captures our imagination leading us to wonder what it would be like to dwell in that light... And for a moment we forget what terror the night holds. And maybe the wondering will turn to longing; the longing to deciding and we will dare to embrace the light.

But once within the light we must still be cautious where we tread. For while it is often stated that darkness flees the light; and this is true. It seems that nearly as often we interpret this retreat as a form of fear; thinking that the darkness dares not step into the light. But perhaps it isn't fear at all. After all the darkness does not cower shivering in the corner. Instead it creeps as close to the light as it can; encroaching on those places where the light is most faint. No; if the darkness feels anything towards the light it must be hatred. For the light binds the darkness as surely as chains may bind a man. And so; the darkness stalks along the edge of twilight and watches; waiting to strike at the source of the light. For it is only in the light that darkness cannot tread. So then; we ought to plant ourselves firmly centered in the light. Lest we stray back into shadow and the places where darkness and the monsters it hides have their way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Defeatists & Nay Sayers.....




Dear Defeatists and Nay Sayers ---
God has a way of using what we think we can’t handle to knock off the rough edges.   I have therefore compiled a list to help you demystify this mutual experience:

1.)     If God promised it….He’ll do it……but probably not in our timing OR the way we think he should.  Take a lesson from the Israelites.  They spent 40yrs wandering in the desert for their unbelief.   GOD WINS!
2.)    God likes to let us know He is BIG, Powerful, and Creative.  Read the book of Joshua.  He digs unconventional warfare……but it requires RIDICULOUS faith.  The odds will never appear to be stacked in our favor.  Just ask the guys wearing out their sandals marching around Jericho.  GOD WINS!
3.)     God put us here for a reason.  …..a reason he has been building on for years….probably our WHOLE lives.  Esther fulfilled her purpose the first time God asked her to do something.  GOD WINS!
4.)    God will give you a 2nd chance.  Didn’t feel up to following God the first time.  Not to worry….you get “do-overs.”  Just ask Jonah…..the downside however, is “do-overs” usually land you in a place that stinks more (like a fish) AND you still have to do what God asked you to do in the first place.  GOD WINS!
5.)    God will give you 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc chances.  Peter was a man of a million chances.  They say Thomas doubted….but Peter doubted even more.  Don’t worry….God will let you know he’s God.  He’s REEEAALLLY patient.  GOD WINS!


6.)Conflict is the path to victory, NOT indicative of failure.  Paul was no stranger to conflict, yet he counted it all a "Blessing."  God never promised easy, he just promises it will be worth it.  In the end....GOD ALWAYS WINS!
7.)    You will be LOVED by God & me, because of a thing called grace.  Yes, that’s Love with a capital “L.”  I realize this LOVE frustrates you……and maybe even makes you angry.  Good.  Hot metal can be molded…..it’s when you become cold, crusty, and indifferent that God cannot work.  GOD WINS!
The toughest judge you’ll have on this planet will always be yourself.  TRUST ME….we’re a lot alike….we’re HUMAN. 
SEEK.GOD.TODAY!!!
Sincerely,
e

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Disturbing Commonality

At the surface these two persons...





Seem to have little in common. But the reality is that they share one very important concern. Your faith; or the lack there of. In fact one might say they find your lack of faith disturbing... And I'm sure they feel the same way about mine when it falls short.

Okay so a Dark Lord of the Sith is probably not all that concerned about my faith. But I'm sure the savior of the world is. And while I am certain that I have faith I am equally certain that there are far too many times when the people around me wouldn't know if I didn't simply tell them. Talk however is cheap and offers but little assurance when it comes to the veracity of the proffered statement. Or as is stated in the book of James,

"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, 'Some people have faith; others have good deeds.' But I say, 'How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.'
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?" (James 2:14-20 NLT)

So action, not talk, is the order of the day. After all as my illustrious co-author has noted there is a sad truth in Thoreau's observation that, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation". And how will they ever know anything different if we who have escaped that life have nothing to show as evidence of our freedom. I believe Saint Francis of Assisi said it well when he offered this instruction, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words", and "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching". So I don't know about you but I think I'll go for a walk. Feel free to come along.