The Sketch Book

A year ago, I started keeping a sketch book with my Bible and journal.  There's also a pouch full of assorted pens and markers close by.  (The pouch has "Ford" inscribed on the front; it used to hold a car owner's manual and is the only remnant I have of my beloved Bubbles.)

Here's my one rule for the sketch book: Bible verses or passages only.  No doodles, no poetry, no Origami.  (A blank page of paper holds so much possibility!)

I have found my quiet times to be so enriched by the creative, kinesthetic practice of writing out bits of Scripture.  It makes each word soak into my mind in a way that simply reading doesn't do.  Even more importantly, it's an act of worship.  A verse may strike me with such poignancy that I can't help but copy it down and add some color and flourish, as if to say, Look, Father!  Look at this beautiful thing You have said!  What a magnificent Book You have written.

Have your daily quiet times gone a little stale?  Try adding an element of creativity.  You will be blessed; even better, the Lord will be blessed.


See the Conqueror

Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for yesterday we were dead.
- Russell Moore

- - -

I woke up with this hymn running through my head.  Here's wishing you a joyous Resurrection Day, full of praise to the Death-Conqueror.


An Open Letter to Ellie Holcomb

Dear Ellie,

I have a few bones to pick with you.

1.  You make my mascara run.
To start off your CD release concert on Sunday, you stepped to the mic and recited parts of Hosea 6 and Lamentations 3.  It wrecked me.  In the future, please take a cue from any number of other Christian artists and stick to trite comments and humorous anecdotes when you're up in front of people.  Quoting beautiful passages of holy Scripture is an unfair advantage over those of us who prefer to keep our Avon intact.

2.  You are an enemy of the forests.
Conservation, Ellie.  Conservation.  You have caused me to blubber into more tissues than your fair share.  Maybe if you sang with less sweetness, if you spoke with less conviction and wrote songs with less vulnerability and joy—maybe then I could have kept the shrinkwrap on this three-pack of Kleenex and preserved an innocent pine.

3.  You made me miss my exit.
In October I took a week's retreat to Colorado.  Your EP, With You Now, found its way into my car's CD player and remained there the whole eight days.  It was a time of release and renewal for me, and your music was the soundtrack.  I would have been grateful, except that you caused me to lapse into such introspection and prayer that I missed my exit on I-70 three different times.  The same exit, Ellie: missed three times in a row by a woman who prides herself on level-headedness.  Neil Diamond has never made me miss an exit.  Neither has Alison Krauss or even Johnny Cash himself.  Your manager should have received my bill for 92 cents of gasoline.

4.  You do not live in Utah.
Sure, you do a number on my eye makeup; you make me expend fistfuls of tissues and drive like a clueless person. Still, I would be willing to set all this aside and strike up a friendship if only you lived 1,635 miles closer to me.  The truth is, with my (ahem) unrivaled humility and your delightful music, hilarious stories, authenticity, and love of Jesus—we could be very good friends indeed.  Is it really too much to ask that you leave the hub of American music and come to the Christian musician's flyover state?  In a burst of generosity, I hereby waive the 92-cent tab if you give just one concert here.

It is for these reasons, Ellie, that I am imploring all three of my blog readers and all seven of my Key Radio listeners to not watch your concert online for free, or download some of your captivating music for a tip of their choice, or purchase your new album which I Kickstarted in a moment of temporary insanity.

Yours with tongue in cheek,


Farewell, Bubbles

There's nothing like a near-death experience to get one blogging again.  So here I am.

And here is the interior of my car, Bubbles, at 1:06 a.m. on August 30, near Ellis, Kansas:

After traveling all day, I was just 65 miles from my destination when a deer stepped in front of me.  She  lived to regret it for approximately two seconds as she flipped onto Bubbles' windshield and came to rest in assorted pieces behind me.

You know how those television commercials touting a car's safety rating show air bags inflating in slow motion, like big, soft marshmallows?  Inaccurate.  Air bags are shockingly loud and incredibly fast.  They are also very smelly after the fact.

And here's something commercials never address: the difficulty of driving your car with a limp, bulky air bag hanging out of your steering wheel.  How would I know?  Because I drove Bubbles that final 65 miles, at the encouragement of the surprisingly-cheerful-for-that-hour-of-the-night sheriff's deputy who came to my assistance.  "It's just cosmetic damage," he concluded as he circled the car with his flashlight.  "Just take 'er slow.  I'll follow you to your exit."  And he was right: Bubbles started up and ran fine.  Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.  Hits a doe 'n' keeps on goin'.

Never mind the fact that I couldn't see through half the windshield, and that a headlight was left lying in the ditch.  We made it to my folks' house near 3:00 a.m., Bubbles and I.  Our last trip together.  My insurance determined it was a total loss "two or three times over."  I guess smelly air bags are pricey to replace.

Thus ends a seven-year friendship with the first car I have ever owned.  Last I knew, she was sitting at the Insurance Auto Auction on 53rd Ave. in Wichita.  I like to think that her various parts are being tenderly salvaged and inserted into other worthy vehicles, giving them the heart and soul of a car that was well-loved.

Is it absurd to grieve an automobile?  I make no apology.  Farewell, beloved Bubbles.

And—hello, Wendell the White!

My folks.  What can I say about them?  Generous is certainly a good start.  Their daughter wrecked her car and stranded herself 900 miles away from her home in Utah.  What to do?  Not a moment's hesitation—they promptly pulled out their well-worn SuperDad and SuperMom suits and came to her rescue.  It wasn't enough that they let her take their best car back to Utah and pay for it as she is able—they also gave it an oil change and scrubbed every last bug speck from its bumper before handing over the keys with a smile.

And so I write this with a gently-used 2006 Taurus in my carport.  And merely a sore wrist from the air bag.  It's cliché but true: it could have been so much worse.  If the plastic binding had not held the shattered windshield together... or if there had been a vehicle directly behind me when I hit the brakes and swerved—this would be a very different story, friends.

Though I [drive my car] in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life.  Psalm 138:7 NIV


Pioneer Day

It was on July 24, 1847, that Brigham Young led the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.  Pioneer Day is an official holiday in Utah: parades, fireworks—and, in Provo, the first-ever Temple to Temple 5k.  Over 5,000 people are running from the Provo LDS Temple to the City Center LDS Temple, which is under construction in downtown Provo.  According to the website, the purpose of the race is two-fold—to remind participants of the Mormons' journey west from Illinois, and to honor one's ancestors:
Temples are special places where families can be sealed for time and eternity. They allow us to perform ordinances in behalf of our ancestors, if they choose to accept them. We invite you to use this chance to remember a specific ancestor who is important in your life that you plan to run for. Tags will be available for you to put their names and stick them to your bib.
Registration for the Temple to Temple 5k was closed early due to the overwhelming response, but maybe I'll get in next year.  I would be glad for the chance to remember my ancestors.  Their eternal destiny, however, was determined the moment they died.  There is no proxy ceremony that can add to the perfect blood of Jesus, itself enough to purchase their pardon from a holy God and a home in heaven.  The only question is: did they place their trust in Jesus?  (And, have you?  Learn more here.)

But while I'm on the subject of Utah culture, here's an invitation that was taped to my door one day:

Also, don't miss this amusing list of my state's idiosyncrasies.  It's good reading on Pie and Beer Day—I mean Pioneer Day.