December 30, 2012. Mike came by today after church. We were talking about all kinds of stuff and he was leaning over the counter over me, so I did a quick sketch of him while we were talking. He's a machinist, so he has these large hands. I would have liked to sketch him wearing the huge down parka and fur hat he was wearing when he came in the door, but I didn't think he'd want to wear them in the house. Mike's an amazing inventor and machinist. He builds his own tractors and bicycles from discarded metal scraps.
December 29, 2012. Today marks 22 years married to my best friend! And a great way to spend the day. The two of us, and my mom, snooping around Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, scouting out art galleries, eating at Franklin's Hoagie shop, where I used to work as a kid, watching "Parental Guidance" with Billie Crystal, eating gyros at the "White House"and enjoying all the snow up here. A great day. My kids are up in the mountains with my brother, snowboarding and having a great time. I love vacation.
December 27, 2012. Take a four-bedroom house. Fill it with 4 little kids, 4 teenagers, 6 Swedish grown-ups, 2 additional grown-ups, 3 dogs, (two of which will now need therapy), 200 yards of wrapping paper, 78 bows and ribbons, a half gallon of egg nog, overflowing bowls of chocolate covered nuts and raisins, a scattered collection of sleeping bags, blankets, horns and pillows, and a whole mess of opened and somewhat distinguishable white elephant gifts. Three days later see what becomes of that four-bedroom house. Although my sketches represent only the male representation of the last few days, the majority of the crowd were female, but my wisdom of omission is due to the fact that my ability to accurately portray who I am drawing is less than remarkable, and I just know better. The lower 2 drawings are repeats, of course, drawn down south with my family.
December 24, 2012. I'm thanking God for a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family in Long Beach today. We've waited fifteen years to enjoy this simple pleasure. One of my nephews wanted to do some sketching together, so here's what I came up with. So much to enjoy; my dad read a great Advent story, my mom shared her delicious cooking, my brother took us to his church service, and we all enjoyed riveting games of Dutch Blitz. As always, time flies too fast when you're with those you love, and now it's time to tuck the kids into bed before we drive to my wife's parents tomorrow.
December 21, 2012. I often think about what we will leave the next generation. The world is changing very rapidly, and the faith of man in God is dwindling, while our need for his presence in our lives has never been deeper. Our hope can never be founded in the goodness of humanity; we've tried this route too many times before. Our hope is found only in the One who created us, knows us, and calls us back to himself.
December 19, 2012. One more day of teaching before Christmas break...sigh. I was sketching down at the coffee shop again tonight, this time with my daughter. I feel out of practice with my pencil. I was just trying to get the gist of these people around me with the short time I had to sit there. The coffee I got wasn't too great. What I would give for a good German coffee right now...
December 12, 2012. I got hit pretty hard this week with "die Grippe" as we said in Germany- the cold/flu thing going around. Teaching and late night prepping and planning has kept me busy the last few weeks, so there hasn't been time for sketching. Here's a little sketch inspired by the story of the famous 1914 Christmas Truce, in which soldiers from both sides of the trenches put down their arms and celebrated the season together. I spent a lot of time up in the Vosges mountains in France, wandering around in the World War I trenches, taking groups of visitors up there and showing them where the French and German soldiers mucked about, coughed, and breathed their last. While there, I often thought about the truce, and what a contrast it must have been to the cold hearted brutalities of war. And then I think about the blinding radiance of hope, through a promise of "peace on earth" to a lowly group of shepherds on a darkened hillside in Palestine, and the divine insertion of the Son of God into a world nearly void of that hope. It is a good time of year to "stop and thank."