Address to Death

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Наблюдения (Observations)

I just got back from a brief trip to Russia.  During my stay in Moscow and my visits to Vladimir and a few outlying towns, I made a list of observations that caught my eye.  One thing is certain;  life in Russia is quite different than here in America.  Here are some fun, interesting, and sad observations I made while there.

  • There are hired security guards inside every store, hotel and complex.  Just to enter the hotel, we had to walk through metal detectors.
  • My hotel window on the 21st floor opened all the way…this would never happen in America due to the liability issues involved
  • Yes, there was a 13th floor
  • Many prominent building have roofs plated in gold
  • gas was around $4 per gallon (or 25 Rubles per Liter)
  • Nobody smiles
  • It is supposedly bad luck to whistle, when I did so I got unusual looks
  • there are about 3 to 4 times the number of policemen you normally see
  • There is a strong ethic of hard work built into the culture… almost nobody is lazy
  • The entire town is desaturated…everything is grey…both literally and metaphorically
  • 80% of people smoke…it’s inexpensive because the government does not tax cigarettes.
  • You are expected to bargain for goods…even in many established shops
  • All women are required to cover their heads in church
  • High school only has 11 grades
  • A typical school classroom will have 1 guy for every 10 girls
  • The school library for a 600 student school might have 150 books…many which are textbooks which are shared between multiple classes.
  • Outward appearance is placed at a very high priority;  this is reflected in people’s desire to drive nice cars, wear nice clothes, and have a few nice things while choosing to live in run down subsidized apartments.
  • There are no overweight people…seriously everyone has a slender or normal figure
  • The only church that exists in any popularity is the Russian Orthodox Church, similar in belief and structure to the Roman Catholic Church here.
  • Education is place on a very high pedestal and teachers are ranked as the #1 most trusted profession.
  • In the corporate world, if you have enemies or competition, rather than trying to beat the competition in the market, you just have the CEO killed.  It happens quite regularly
  • The KGB (under a new name of FSB) is still monitoring the activities of foreigners within the country.
  • There are still areas of Russia where foreigners are not allowed to travel.
  • I only saw 1 pregnant lady (out of thousands of people) in the period of a week…I inquired on this abnormality and was told that the average Russian woman has 6 abortions and as a result, infertility rates are through the roof.
  • Abortion rates are some of the highest in the world; In 2001, 1.3 million children were born in Russia, while 1.8 million abortions were performed.    citation

 

Notes on Fashion

  • Leather is in
  • All men wear skinny jeans or slim cut trousers
  • Everyone and I mean most everyone, dresses nicely.  I didn’t see a single pair of holey jean, ball caps, tennis shoes and very few t-shirts.
  • Women wear skirts much more often than here in the states
  • Boots are commonly found and you get the general sense that women are taller because they all wear heels (and I mean heeeeeeeels).

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Bishop’s Castle Photo Shoot


So one day old man Bishop was sittin’ on a rock in the middle of the woods deep in the mountains and he thought to himself “I think I’m going to build a castle…”

(and so he did)

The following photos are from a photo shoot we planned at a castle with craggly towers wrought of iron and stone all handcrafted by a single man over the course of forty years.  While we were shooting, Mr. Bishop was hard at work on the new moat which surrounded the front entryway.

I was trying to go for more of a earthy type (Urban Outfitters) casual feel staying away from the normal rules of photography and I shot most of the project in film although the photos posted here are all from my 5D mk-ii or from my iPhone.

 

 

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

-Psalm 18:2

 

God, I pray that YOU are my rock and my castle…YOU be my strength, my protection, my security…not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally…in all aspects of life.  When this life goes crazy and I don’t know which way is up, I know that I can depend on you even when (and especially when) you are the only solid stable thing within my grasp.
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Chelsi and Brant Wedding

This gallery contains 21 photos.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Dallas.  White Rock Lake’s water was gently lapping the shore.  In a few hours, the simple industrial red brick building was soon to be decorated and filled with people celebrating the marriage of … Continue reading

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Blogging; Just Adding to the Noise

I get discouraged by all of the noise in our society.  Why should I add to it?

We listen to ipodstelevisionradiocdplayers tereosynchronasticsterepophonic surrounsoundmultichannel noisenoisenoise 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…constantly.  We put in our ipods when driving with other people in the car, fall asleep to music, leave the TV running in the background etc.  Our fears begin to emerge in silence so we crank it up louder in order to avoid them.  This habit drowns out the more important speech of our friends our family and God.  We fervently pray to hear God’s voice, yet we live noisy lives with ears attuned to our iPods rather than the heavens.

I can’t stand it.

I’ve fought this syndrom in my own life and gone months without music or media.  At times I’ve been scared of facebook because I feel as if my spiritual growth could be hindered by dwelling too much in a world of superficial communication.  I often avoid blogs, the newspaper, even books by Christian authors so that I can redirect that time from good sources of truth to the purest and best source of truth, the Bible.

I avoid the noise.

That being said, I have had a hard time writing blog posts, tweeting, or facebooking because I feel as if I contribute to the very noise which I am attempting to avoid.

Am I adding to messy conglomerate of information over-saturation?

Why should I contribute to this “problem” facing our culture currently?

I recall a conversation with Dr. Leland, director of the Focus Leadership Institute, when I asked him “Why would I want to personally create more when the world is hypersaturated with messages, agendas and cluttered media?”  He flipped the question back at me (typical Jesus tactic) and I responded “because I know that the art and messages I create speak truth and bring life to the people receiving them.”  He smiled and responded “and that’s why you should create.”

So create I will.

I will write, sketch, paint, sing, film, photograph, conceptualize, design, and do fun crazy things because I know that anything I create is simply a reflection of the master Creator.  Even if I’m not painting nativity scenes or writing praise songs, truth and beauty can and will be communicated in the work that I do.  I will work hard to be attune with my Creator and then enjoy doing whatever it is that He made me to do and by doing so, be salt and light for a dark flavorless world.

So although I think that the blog world crams information into overflowing minds, I will blog.  Even though I know (as a Marketing major) that you are exposed to 3500-5000 marketing messages a day, I will write.  Even though I know that there are thousands of personal truth claims in the world, I will share.

Why?  Because I know that by doing so I can bring life and beauty to a dark world.

If we’re adding to the noise, turn off this song” -Switchfoot

If I’m adding to the noise, quit following this blog

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The Rainy Kid’s Show

This is a quick design for a poster I did for “The Rainy Kid Show” a benefit concert some friends and I put on at a local coffee shop in Colorado Springs called Jives.

The show couldn’t have gone better:  We all got a chance to play, some people were suuuuper talented throwing together delightful covers with instruments ranging from the guitar, piano, and my alltime favorite:  the strumstick (google it…they’re awesome)

We ended up selling quite a bit of original art, crocheted hats and other really fun goodies.

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Grunge Portrait

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Kevin Fowler Promo Poster

I’ve recently been contracted out for some freelance design for the company which manages country wester singers Kevin Fowler, Joe Nichols, Eli Young Band, and Jack Ingram.

After looking at what Kevin’s primary audience was and talking with the manager, we nailed down a definite design. I used Photoshop, Illustrator, some hand drawn illustration as well practically drawing Kevin….it took a little longer than I thought, but I’m happy with the final product.

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Oh Shoot…

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I’m testing a couple of new illustration techniques that I’m going to start implementing regularly. I’m going to walk you through  my workflow just for fun, so I’ll begin with the final image; Here is the original black and white … Continue reading

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Conflict

This is a short film used as a metaphor between the tense relationship between a father and a son.  I’ve seen some awesome shots which utilize slow motion compiled of pictures but edited in a way to give the illusion of film.  I had to copy it, so here is my first attempt at doing so.

Thanks to my dad and brother for running around in the snow!  I shot and edited the film and just recently wrote the music as well…enjoy!

(oh yeah, watch it on Vimeo to see it in it’s full HD splendor)
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Doodles

Sometimes it is just fun to pick up a sharpie and doodle:

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“Jesus Wept”

This is the shortest verse in the Bible,  John 11:35

Jesus finds his soul deeply moved and troubled because of the pain Mary felt for the death of her brother Lazarus.  I find it interesting that he is moved so much by this event (twice he felt moved and troubled) yet he knew Lazarus was “only sleeping” and would soon be back to life.

He empathized with Mary just because she was sad.

This is the same man who told a follower to “let the dead bury their own dead.”  How do these two situations reconcile themselves?  Something I need to chew on.

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If Only Girls Knew…

“What are some things you wish girls knew to do differently?”

Put on 70% less makeup.  Who God made you is beautiful!  Other guys think you are beautiful.

Don’t flirt unless you mean it.  Personality is no excuse.

Don’t bash the male species in general.  Instead, encourage men to be men.

Don’t micromanage guys and their choices (especially your future sons and husband).  Instead let them make some mistakes, get muddy, make a wrong turn, burn the casserole, maybe even break an arm.  By doing this when you speak up to protect them from the things that really can hurt them…and they will be much more inclined to listen.

To many guys are scared to try new things because they are scared of failure.  Try to create a safe environment where they can fail and still be appreciated and valued.  If you see a guy going out on a limb (trying something new or difficult), give them major major props, it takes courage.

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Are You Leading Him On?

“What is one thing that leads you on or causes you frustration, that girls in this culture do often?”

 

Unbeknownst to them, quite a few girls obliviously lead guys on.  If you are aware of a pattern of guys randomly interested in you or asking you out, you’re probably sending signals to them which are interpreted as “I like you” and they are just acting on that signal.  This may not always be the case, but you could probably do a few things to keep guys, especially ones you aren’t interested in, at bay.

A friend of mine, when she hears about a guy that likes her and she doesn’t like him back, will go into “Defcom 5” mode and wouldn’t talk, text, or even make eye contact with him until he gets the message.  I think this might be a little extreme and may not the be the best way to communicate a lack of interest, but guys actually appreciate the feedback and move on without really being hurt.

Likewise, I think you are doing a guy a huge favor by clearly communicating exactly how you feel.  By doing so, you are guarding his heart and keeping him from putting more of himself into the relationship, even if it is nonexistent, than is necessary.

To help illustrate this point a little better, lets swap the scenario.  Say you go on three dates with a guy and you really begin to like him because he tells you how beautiful you are and how great you guys would be together and mentions plans for the future.  By now, you’ve probably named the kids, planned the wedding and are ready for a committed lifelong relationship (I’m being a little sarcastic here, but hey).  Then, he mysteriously quits calling you and never asks you on a date again.  After crying for a while (he really was a good guy) you muster up the courage to call him two weeks later and ask him what happened and he says “I really just don’t like you that much and I never really did.”

Wow.

How do you feel?

Used?

Lied to?

Wouldn’t you rather him just be upfront and say “hey, I don’t know much about you, but I would like to get to know you a little better to see if there is anything there,” all the while generally avoiding false expectations and future talk.

In the same way him being honest with his feeling would be protecting you, valuing you, and guarding your heart from the unnecessary pain of unmet expectations, you can protect, respect and guard guy’s hearts by being honest with them.

When a guy puts his heart out on the chopping block and asks you on a date, do the most loving thing you can;  first respect him for being courageous and asking (its not easy at all), then be honest with him.  If there is no hope, let him know that you’re not interested in him and you won’t be.  Don’t make up some fake excuse that will leave him hanging on a chance if there isn’t one.  If you’re interested but don’t know enough about him or want to see him in a group setting, say so.  This will put the ball in his court to figure out how you can get to know each other in a group before stepping into a more formal dating context.  Be honest about everything; If you aren’t in a place in life where you want to date anyone, or if you’re scared of dating, say that as well.  If you asks you out in a note form and you believe these things should be discussed face to face, tell him so.

After your honest answer, clarify the fact that you are being honest (because you ARE being honest) and then give him more props for being a man and having the courage to ask you out.

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Best Friends?


“Can males and females can effectively be best friends?”

Not healthily.

Guys need to have their best friends be guys and girls need girls.

I say this from a very personal level based on my past experiences.  When I first came to A&M, I became great friends with Jenny (not real name).  Now Jenny and I clearly and specifically decided that we were going to be “just friends” and nothing more no matter what and that we would never have a romantic relationship of any type.  With that being said, we became such good friends that we ended up hanging out daily, sometimes for hours.  It was great fun and we became really close and were able to learn a lot from each other.  We didn’t cross any boundaries, didn’t develop feelings for each other, and nothing was blatantly askew.

After a semester of this, I began to realize that while we really were “just friends,” the time we spent together was strongly cutting into the time we spent with friends of our same sex.  Now this in itself doesn’t sound like a terrible thing until you fully realize the implications of what exclusively opposite sex relationships can do you in the big picture.

When I came to A&M, one of my biggest prayers was to find other men of God who I could connect with so that we could encourage, push, love, teach, and hold each other accountable.  These relationships aren’t easy to initiate and maintain and require trust, courage, and hard work…but they are essential for the healthy spiritual growth of an individual seeking Christ.

The main reason I stand by the belief that guys and girls really shouldn’t pursue a best friend non-romantic relationship is the lifetime implications of looking toward the future.  Statistically, 19 out of 20 people (or more) will get married in their lifetime, so looking at how our cross gender relationships will affect our future marriages is very important.  So picture yourself married with two kids.  When things start to get rough (every marriage has rough times) who do you turn to?  It would be somewhat adulterous for a woman struggling in her marriage to run to one of her best guy friends and dump all of her feeling and marital struggles in his lap.  It would be healthy for her to reach out to other women of God, some who might have gone through similar struggles for support, advice and prayer.  Other women can speak her language and can relate and understand how to handle situations far better than the men.  For this reason, it is so important to have a same sex friend base of people who throughout your life you can turn to for advice, encouragement and accountability (and reciprocate that to friends when they are in need).  This model of women teaching women and men building relationships with other men works well and is displayed prominently throughout the Bible.

Take David, a man after God’s own heart.  How in the world did a man so passionate about God end up sleeping with another man’s wife and then murdering her husband?

The real question is when did he turn from God?

He fell when he lacked male to male accountability.  His mighty men and closest friends were off fighting in a war that he should have been at as well.

If David, one of the greatest men in history, hit rock bottom because of a lack of accountability and male relationships, then who are we to disregard the importance of it throughout own lives?

We need to work hard and develop same sex relationships because without them we will die spiritually and can run our lives into the ground.

That being said, it is great to have great sisters and brothers in Christ who can model what it looks like to be Godly men and women as well as help each other out and enjoy friendship with each other.  At A&M, I loved being the “house dad” for a house full of girls that were good friends of mine.  It

was a good for both of us when I could come over and unclog spaghetti from their sink and take care of the squirrel which had lived in their beds and drank from their toilet over Thanksgiving.

Furthermore, I would make an exception to situations where people are placed in a situation where one on one contact is necessary or initiated.  For example my friend went on a mission trip in North Africa where she was paired up with a guy for safety reasons.  They had plenty of good conversations and got to know each other well.  Being a leader of ARTISTS with sisters in Christ required a few one on one coffee conversations to strengthen communication and work through challenges we were facing.  These were hugely necessary and vital to the health of the organization.

Don’t be paranoid and lean too far to one extreme or the other.  Enjoy the people God has placed in your life…that makes Him happy.  This is a careful balancing act of getting to know each other and keeping unhealthy habits in check, so pursue relationships with purpose, being keenly aware of how your actions now affect your future.


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