Digital Nature Photography- Book Review

I love nature and there are some really beautiful places all over the world.  Pictures are one of the ways we can remember these beautiful places and take them with us when we’re someplace else.  Pictures can also transport us to places we’ve never been and show us things we otherwise would never see.  While in Australia Ryan and I took a lot of pictures but we also just tried to absorb where we were in the moment.  Once we get back to Australia, we (mostly Ryan:-) are looking forward to taking more pictures and sharing them with family, friends and supporters.


With Australia in mind I pick up this book called John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography.  John Shaw put his experience with nature photography into words but he didn’t forget to include pictures.  This book includes lots of beautiful images that are all labeled where and how (lens, shutter speed, etc) they were taken.  The chapters are practical, easy to read and run the gamut from getting started to types of gear to image composition.  Just looking through the book is interesting and I look forward to seeing how Ryan puts the information to good use in the future.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Praying For Perth

Even though Ryan and I are on this side of the pond, we still have a connection to the people and places in Australia, specifically in and around Perth.  We are intending to work with a team that is already there on the ground.  Berenice is a wonderful artist who uses a wide variety materials as her canvas.  Everything from egg shells to doll heads.  Her work isn’t just interesting to look at, it has a story behind it.  She also uses bones.  Yes, bones!  You can see one of her works HERE and although I did not contribute to this work, I did collect bones for her while I was living in PNG.  I also love that she uses and plays with language. Check out more of her art on her website: berenice rarig- artist.


Art can be ministry and this is very evident in Berenice’s latest work.  She is praying through the Perth phone book.  Each name gets prayed over, written out in beautiful script and collected together in little books.  Since artwork is a process for Berenice, I’m sure this work will evolve as she works her way through the alphabet.  She has reached the Ds and although it is a long and hand-inking process, the power of prayer is at work here.  Once completed Berenice can say that she has prayed for everyone in the city by name.  How awesome is that!?

Loving and Learning- Aboriginal Culture

While Ryan and I were in Perth, we stopped by the Aboriginal Cultural Center in Fremantle.  While there we got to look at original Aboriginal art, talk to the center volunteers and I signed up to receive their cultural program schedules.  The program schedules are based on Noongar Seasons and it is currently Djeran.  Each email I get is a reminder to pray for the healing and learning that is still taking place in Australia between the Aboriginal and the white community.


This season there are art and language classes as well as events geared towards reconciliation.  May 26th is National Sorry Day, a nationally recognized day in Australia, which gives people the chance to come together and dialog about steps that can be taken towards healing from the Stolen Generations (Aboriginals forcefully removed from their families and communities).  For this day the center will be having a workshop and exhibition.

Just reading about these events gives me something to look forward to, as well as reminds me of some of the challenges we will face, once we are in Australia.  I also follow Fremantle Aboriginal Events on Facebook.  I know we won’t be living directly in Fremantle but we will be close enough to participate in some events and use this center to continue learning about the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal culture past, present and future.

Nature of Language

languageartLanguage and art are linked/connected/interwoven in many lovely ways.  This artist, José Parlá, has united art and language in a very beautiful and thought provoking way.  Understanding the artist’s process can often make the art come alive and become even more beautiful.  View this VIDEO to hear his inspiration and see his work in progress.  The picture and the video can be found on the blog posted by GRAFFUTURISM.

The Spirit Moves- Yes it does!

This is just a brief overview of this past weekend in South Carolina.  The conference will be the subject of my November Newsletter so I look forward to sharing more with you after Ryan and I have had more time to process the experience.

IMG_9898Day in and day out, the Spirit of the Lord is moving.  Interactions with the call to go has many different manifestations but every Christian is called to respond.  As Giotis, a pastor from Greece, pointed out- It’s about ordinary people, living ordinary lives with Gospel intentionality.

IMG_9897This weekend was an amazing mix of reunions, soul stirring worship, face to face team time, vision sharing, encouragement and receiving nourishment from the word of God thanks to some great speakers.  The music was led by Kevin Twit.  If you haven’t listened to Indelible Grace, which was founded by Kevin Twit, you should!  Check it out on their website Indelible Grace Music.

IMG_9893One of my favorite things this weekend was being able to spend time with my friend Shannon.  Here we are pictured enjoying the falls in downtown Greenville.  Shannon is currently raising support to work with the Perth team as a visual artist.  You might have heard me talk about her tea bag art but if you follow her blog Yellow Brick Studio then you will be able to track her progress and see parts of her latest work which includes lots of paper straw covers!


Book Review: The Culturally Savvy Christian

The Culturally Savvy Christian by Dick Staub is “a manifesto for deepening faith and enriching popular culture in an age of Christianity-lite.”  It is about understanding the culture around us without being negatively influenced or impacted by the same culture.  Staub encourages artists and other creatives to seek a deeper relationship with God, living in His transforming presence and only through this being able to come alongside and impact culture for Christ.  But this book is not just for artists.  It is for anyone who is frustrated with the the christian church extremes, either cutting ourselves off from the world or conforming completely.  It is for anyone who wants to know how to encourage artists and other creatives in the church.  It is for anyone who believes that we serve a creative God and that He created us as creative beings, in His image.


The part of this book that really resonated with me is the idea of language being important.  We all know that language is not just limited to verbal communication.  Staub explains that we live in this world as ambassadors for Christ and in this way we need to be able to speak the language of the people around us.  Visual art, music or anything else creative can be an important means of this communication.  But Staub also emphasizes that the ultimate end is to glorify God.  Staub is practical and insightful while maintaining a clear Christ-centered focus.

The Culturally Savvy Christian is definitely worth reading, discussing and seeking to implement into today’s church life.  If nothing else is achieved, my hope is that the reader would come away understanding their need for and desiring a deeper understanding of scriptures and intimate knowledge of God.



Art, Music and Aboriginals

Australia is a very cool place.  It’s easy to share stories about the people and culture but it is sometimes challenging to get people really engaging and interacting with what they are hearing and learning.  So yesterday when I spoke to a group of kids, I made sure that what we did was as interactive as possible.  We listened to didgeridoo music and even tried to imitate it.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?  Our imitations were fairly unsuccessful but giving it a try is part of the fun.


We then tried our hand at imitating aboriginal art.  This art is both beautiful and fascinating.  Here is a link to google images of real aboriginal art.  You can compare it to our versions.  The kids definitely had fun.  Not only did they get to take home some art but they got to take home stories as well.










Tea and People


Tea is about connecting with people.  Well sometimes it is just about having a drink but if we look a little closer it can mean so much more.  I love Wednesday nights.  If I am in Santa Barbara I get to be at Bible Study with an amazing group of people and when I am in Sacramento I am blessed with a group of women to have tea with, talk and solve the problems of the world.  We bond over Good Earth sweet and spicy tea.  It’s a delightful way to get to know people and have conversations that really allow you to get to dig a little deeper.  This can range from the inane and trivial to tear bathed heart breaking confessions.  But it is all part of the same connecting process.


Good Earth sweet and spicy tea also has special significance for me because I was first introduced to this tea in Papua New Guinea.  There it was also used to form a bond within a sweet relationship.  Juliann became my friend and roommate.  And most recently I was able to see her with her husband and new baby girl while I was in Perth.   While living in PNG countless boxes were sent over the ocean.  They made me very happy and helped bond even more friendships over a simple cup.

Tea has also gained more significance through my Australian teammate Shannon’s work.  I wrote a bit about the teabag work in my blog about the Australian Team’s Art but there is so much more meaning hidden in the layers of metaphor, story and history.  This blog post written by the gallery in Indianapolis where the team showed their artwork gives you another taste of the tea story that Shannon is telling.  She says, “I learned to meet my new community over cups of tea.  It became how I got to know people and became familiar with my new neighborhoods.  As I collected new experiences, people, and customs, I collected the remnants of these moments, often in the form of tea bags.”

It’s not just about tea, it’s about the relationships and experiences that come with each sip.  I would encourage you to find a friend, new or old, and enjoy a cup of tea today.

Introducing the Artists through their Art

Art is happening.  Art is happening in Indianapolis.  Art is happening in Indianapolis with the Perth Team.  Art is happening without me.  I have to live this weekend vicariously through the technological wonders of facebook and skype.  But I am thankful for these men and women who will be a part of my life in Perth.  Their art reaches out, connects people and tells their stories.


Shannon started knitting a scarf that now continues to be added to by different people, in different parts of the world.  This scarf was started in Australia and then carried to and continued in Japan.  It was used as part of the healing process after the tsunami.  Each person who adds to the scarf becomes a part of the art.  And the work continues.  This is the scarf that hugged the world.

Tim's people

Tim is currently collecting stick figures.  He put them together in a piece called “Cave Drawings”.  Tim also does water color, sculpture and charcoal drawings.  Feel like drawing?  Send Tim your stick figures.  Be a part of this art.

Wishbone Cathedral

This lovelyness is the Wishbone Cathedral.  This installation by Berenice is called “Cathedral de St Icarus the Wishful” and it is made of over 60,000 chicken wishbones.  That’s a lot of chickens.  So so amazing.  Listen to Berenice talk about her art on YouTube.  Berenice plays with bones, eggs and language.  I even sent her some bones from Papua New Guinea.  It’s fun to have a friend who will appreciate an assortment of jaws, snake vertebrae, bat bones and a cassowary femur.


And this is Steve, our fearless team leader.  He plays his art in musical form.  My favorite Steve stories have to do with jam sessions in crazy places like Fiji.  Music is language and also transcends language.

Tea bags

Another Shannon piece.  Tea bags, emptied out, dried and sewn together.  Each stained and imperfect, yet in community, connected to one another.  A beautiful honeycomb.  Talk to Shannon and you will never look at tea the same again.