mike.
art. jesus. coffee. people. books. creating. in no particular order.
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December 23, 2009

I think too much about little things, I should have been a Philosophy Major


My grandmother made two ceramic nativity scenes years ago. My mother and her sister absolutely love each of them, so they swap them every couple of years, this year it was my mothers turn for the larger scaled one. As she is unpacking the pieces, as the last piece is unwrapped and placed in its respectful place within the scene, she lets out a little laugh... baby Jesus is missing.

That spoke worlds to me. It speaks worlds about the modern view of Christmas and Jesus.

There now lies a Fisher Price red overall wearing dollhouse toddler in the manger. It is kind of comical in retrospect; but because I think too much... it meant so much more than "whoops" to me.

December 17, 2009

Forgotten.


I think somewhere between last spring and the middle of fall, I lost my direction. I have wandered around in what feels like a wilderness for a while looking for something to lead me in the direction, never looking in the right places, feeling forgotten. Going through the motions but never changing where I look. I feel like I finally have the scent... but I'm still on the path, this meandering path, called life.

December 9, 2009

It seems everytime i try to sit down and figure out the fragmented peices of thoughts I have it all seems to get more fragmented... maybe when something becomes solid I'll be able to make sense of this fragmentation.

November 13, 2009

Sometimes Simplicity is Beautiful



"Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars
You only know what i want I you to
I know everything you don´t want me to
your mouth is poison your mouth is wine
you think your dreams are the same as mine

I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will
I always will

I wish you´d hold me when I turn my back
well the less I give the more I get back
your hands can heal your hands can bruise
I don´t have a choice but I´d still choose you

I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will

I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will
I don´t love you but I always will

I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will

November 10, 2009

A Time Comes in Your Life

This recently came up in a note posted on facebook by someone who has just undergone a huge transformation in her life and it just struck a chord with me that I had to re-post it. I think every person who has ever struggled with anything or anyone who has yet to struggle with anything should read this becasue its pretty amazing!
A Time Comes in Your Life
"A time comes in your life when you finally get it … When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks, and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!
Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears, and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening.

You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon.

You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and she is not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter), and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you; and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are …and that’s OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself; and in the process a sense of newfound confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn’t do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say, and that not everyone will always be there for you; and that it’s not always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own, and to take care of yourself; and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers … and you begin to accept people for who they are — not their family, their spouses or their ancestors; You begin to overlook shortcomings and human frailties; and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche; and that the expectations you project are often what you created.

You stop manufacturing excuses that it’s “others” who miraculously stroll through life’s fires unsinged. And embrace that those “others” now include you.

And you begin to sift through all that you’ve been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, and how much you should weigh; what you should wear and where you should shop, and what you should drive; how and where you should live, and what you should do for a living; who you should sleep with, who you should marry, and what you should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children, or what you owe your parents.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with; and in the process you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing; and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world … and that you can’t teach a pig to sing.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries, and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry, and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man, or woman on your arm, or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are, and not as you would have them be.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love … and you learn that you don’t have the right to demand love on your terms … just to make you happy. And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10, never escape your receding hairline –and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you “stack up.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK … And that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want … and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect; and you won’t settle for less. And, you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his/her touch …and in the process you internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body really is your temple, and you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn, that for the most part, in life you get what you believe you deserve … and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time. FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. And you learn to fight for quality of life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve; and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things.

You learn that God isn’t punishing you or failing to answer our prayers. It’s just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state — the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you, and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to admit when you are wrong and to building bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself; and you to make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever, settle for less than your heart’s desire.

And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side, you take a stand; you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can. Knowing it WILL BE the best.


- Virginia Marie Swift

Now its time to go figure out who this woman is and read more by her.

November 1, 2009


"I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there's one thing that's dangerous for an artist, it's precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and the rest of it."

—Federico Fellini, I'm a Born Liar

Reading Culture Making and spending time digesting what I read has been pretty convicting... but then again so has a lot lately.  I seem to be praying for direction a lot lately becasue I'm wandering around (or maybe more of sitting still) confused.

**artwork; "Waiting for Inspiration" by Leith O'Malley

October 18, 2009

Somtetimes Art Reflects Life and others Life Reflects Art...

A lot of time people are like paintings;  from afar they may look perfect and pristine, but as you get closer you start to see their flaws and imperfections.  The closer you get to people (and yourself) the more you see your/their imperfections.

September 22, 2009

What if Life had a Rest Button?


I remember sitting in the play room as a child playing on my old NES getting frustrated at every level that I couldn't complete with ease. Cursing under my breath so that mom would not hear. The 8-bit graphics could frustrate me more than anything real life could throw at me. There would come a point where I would get so angry that I would just in a fit of subdued "rage" take my frustrations out on a poor defenseless piece of molded plastic with the faded red ink that read "reset". One simple press is all it took, but my vindication was sought upon that button.
   I would then sit back down and restart the same game that I had just quit.  Only to realize that those same sticking points, those same hardships were all there... and I had to beat them again... again! (remember this is the time before you had hard drives and save files in games)
   Did this ever change?  Not until save files!  Did slamming that reset button ever successfully do anything?  No.  It just made things harder and gave you a major case of deja vu.
   I for one am glad that there is no reset button for life... I mean really, does anyone want to go through their awkward stage of the "tweens" again?  Or how about diapers?  Formula?  That time you wet the bed?

September 19, 2009

I am ill equipped.


I am ill equipped to do all the grand things that my heart desires on my own. When will I stop trying to rely on myself and rely on the one who has done greater things that my wildest imagination can imagine?


I have the desire now I need to drop the fear.


**image by Todd Powelson

September 14, 2009

Phila.

-Random meetings of people on the street which leads to an hour long talk on the sidewalk.
-Homeless people bathing in the fastfood bathrooms
-Food Cart lines
-crazy homeless people playing music.
-horse and carriages walking next to cars driving
-the art and theatre scene
-the grungy hipster kid who, is obviously not, sitting on the sidewalk holding a sign that reads "I need money so I can stop eating cardboard."
-seeing the nice rite aid worker man handle a dude stealing something in Rite Aid, no more than 2 minutes after he nicely pointed me to the travel toothbrushes.

Even though I have only been gone for a little more than a week. It seems like so much longer. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. What if my heart has never left in the first place?

September 8, 2009

Seasons

seasonscape by alexiuss.deviantart.com     I’m realizing as I get more and more involved in the christian culture that people talk about seasons in more than a simple weather terminology. I had never heard this before. A season of life, of the year. There can be many seasons of... something in one weather season.
     I have always believed in life changes happening around season changes. The end of the summer came and that ended my stint in Philly and i moved back to Jersey. As I moved to the place where everyone vacations too; all those vacationers were making their way back to wherever they lived. Having grown up here I have always seen this. In April we would see businesses start preparing for the onslaught of new people to, sadly, take advantage of with the high prices and cheap products. May would bring the population of my area up 200-300% Then in August a mass exodus would happen. Students leaving for school, vacation families leaving, some businesses closing. Another “season” on the books.
     It’s always easier to see what lead up to the closing of a season when it’s not your own. I’m back home in Jersey. Trying to figure out what my time here is meant to teach me. its showing me a lot of things. Good thing and bad things both about myself and what has become of my family over the past four years. ( when I was in school I didn’t go home very often during school ). This very short time has already shown me the way God has worked within me as I have
     Sitting here and hearing and seeing the suburban antics makes me realize more and more I am an Urban dweller and my heart is in the city; but for this season of my life I, for some reason, I am in a shore suburbanite... I know I’ll learn and be stretched during this season... I just hope that before the next season, I am onto my personal next season.


For now... my only seasonal chore is to... job hunt and get a friggin job! haha

August 24, 2009

Family Dinner

I remember being a kid and just loving when my whole family got together to sit down and eat a dinner together, no matter what it was, i loved it. It could be hot dogs with mac n’ cheese or the occasional steak and veggies. It was so good sitting around with my siblings crying, mom trying to deal with babies, the younger siblings spilling drinks, running away from the table, dad tormenting all of us and mom yelling at him for doing such. Sitting around hearing Dad tell stories for how he did dumb things and got in trouble or, in the more fun situations, didn’t. Sometimes he would give us ideas on how to get in trouble and mom would give a good, “Jim! Don’t tell them that!” I would just smile and be silent.
Soon those dinners went quickly away to more of a rushed dinner so we could get back to homework, or off to this, that or the other. Dad was working more, I was old enough to not always be home for dinner, it was rare to have those family dinners; but, when we did have them... all those things came back and I loved it. Still do!
Today I was sitting in church as I do every Sunday, listening to the sermon, then we get to the point of communion. A simple yet such powerful act that has always held a special place in the service for me. The thoughts of having to leave liberti for a while was really rough, and this was kind of my last “family meal” for a while. That bothers me. Sure, I’ll eat bread again, more than likely drink wine again, probably even take communion... but its not with my family, It won’t be with my spiritual family; the ones I pray with, the ones I hang with and the ones that have frustrated me in the past, its all there, the family dynamics. One of the many thing that this family has that my biological family doesn’t... when my liberti family and I have bread and wine together... its so much more than just bread and wine.

March 30, 2009

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand.

I need to start carrying a rock in my pocket so when I get depressed and down and my heart starts to want I can just reach in my pocket and hold on to the rock to remind myself that I am often cold as stone and I forget that the father has me in his hand, and that no matter how I’m feeling I need to remember to cling to my divine rock.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

March 16, 2009

Sabbath Day Humble Pie in my face!

As I was sitting in church yesterday I was just kind of sitting there half thinking half listening to the announcements that were being spoken and its funny, I was complaining; to myself, that I really didn't want to do anything relating to my thesis right now. I was so over it, I felt like I was beating a dead horse, etc etc etc. I kept thinking I just want to get out of school and do missions and ya know do gods work; whatever that will look like come graduation....

here's where I got a nice steaming piece of humble pie...
God reminded me of that verse, that is highlighted and underlined in my bible, in Exodus 35:35
"He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers."
He filled them with the skill to be artists and to do their work to the glory of god. To top it off, my thesis is all about being "created with his hands..." using hands as metaphor for spirituality.

Here I am in church, complaining about NOT wanting to do any work on my thesis, which is smothered in God... and wanting to do Gods work... hrm.. and the pharisees were a little slow... HAH! I think they learned a little something from yours truly.

I wish I could say that I left church pumped about going back to my studio to merrily go on my way working on my thesis. I did go back, I did work on my thesis, I did start something pretty sweet... was I chipped and thankful that I was there...? I'm still workin' on that. Speaking of which, time to get back to work.

Speaking of work... here is a little preview of whats brewing in "la studio de mike". These are all small (less than 3") medallions that are part of my thesis
    

March 12, 2009

Angry Conversations with God


    Its really funny. .... spirituality, that is. I mean on one hand you have the God of love, who killed many of people and Jesus who was down with riding on a donkey calling himself the king?! Really? Really. If anything truthful can be made into a joke it's that... and I think Susan Isaacs did just that, in the most real way possible with her book "Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir" Susan tells us her story, not just her happy story with God, that's the cliche christian thing to do, but her whole story, the parts where she was like, what the flipity-flip God?! Which really makes a story anyone can read... not just people who believe in this donkey riding king.
    If you want to meet Hippy Jesus, The Angry Father and Rudy among many equally interesting characters then I think you should go pick up Susan's book, your in for a snark filled, borderline blasphemous but in the end faith affirming good read! If you don't like snark and a down and dirty story about one womans dealing with god... get the book anyway and get over your dislike of snark.


Oh yeah... want to win the book? I'm holding this little contest here...
What do you have to do to win? Just describe your Jesus' personality. Is he more like a hippy? Buddy Christ? Mr Rogers? What does a conversation look like with him? Snark? No Snark. Sarcastic? The laid back hippy? Be creative.

Sorry the limit is 5 books so the best answers win, just leave em' in the comments. The Deadline is March 22nd at 11:59pm est.

February 24, 2009

...When We Needed You

"you're the God of the rescue and you came through when we needed you."

Never have these words rung so true in my head. Tonight while working in my friends studio some how my friend Liz and I got to talking about what and in some cases who God has saved us from and it really made me think how great God is. How he has saved us from so many things... even things WE want to have happen to us. What we may think of as good God has other plans and Gods plan is always perfect. I have to keep telling myself this because something I have kind of been banking on, is not going to happen but Gods great commission will be and I have to continue to remind myself its not where I am, who I am with but that I am listening to God. and doing his will.

I pray that each and everyone of us can remember this.