S.

Somewhere Between an Artist and an Engineer

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity.

Dad was a building engineer. I say “was” because he’s technically retired, but not because he’s stopped. To this day he continues to build. His 5 acres in the rolling hills of Kentucky are filled with barns and buildings of which he and my mom have designed and constructed. Even now he’s got two more cabins he’s building on a small lake. One is for sale but “we don’t care if we sell it” my mom says. He also fix just about anything so I’m constantly calling him for help. Just a few weeks ago we fixed my toiled via FaceTime. When I call him he’ll say, “OK, what broke?”

My dad and mom designed and built my mom’s “art studio” in the backyard in Kentucky

Mom is an artist. I try to tell people that her work rivals some of the best painters they’ve seen, but you won’t find her paintings up in her house. Most of her friends have absconded with them over the years. Yet you will find her work throughout her home. The house itself is her work, including the custom bathroom she designed and my dad built that’s probably the size of my master bedroom. She has an “art studio” in the backyard full of painted wood pieces, crafts, and furniture of which she’s working on. To what end, I don’t know, but she makes beautiful things.

One of the few drawings my mom did when she was young that I found in my parent’s attic.

I have my father’s name and his height. He’s six-foot-one or as he says, “Six-two with shoes on.” I’m six-four without shoes on. But I have my mom’s nose, I think. Growing up people said I looked like my dad, but I’ve grown into my mom’s nose, eyes, and complexion. What does this have to do with identity?

History reveals identity.

Klyne R. Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are (p. 82)

Who our parents are does not determine who we will be, but as Klyne Snodgrass says, “History reveals identity.” As we spent some time with my parents this summer, I realized just how much I’m like them and how much I’m not. Mostly though, I saw how much I’m like them. I really do want to make beautiful, creative art like my mom, but I can’t draw. I love dimension and order and figuring out how things work, but I can’t build or even maintain my house. It’s probably why I got into digital graphic design years ago. I found in the computer a tool to create things that my hands couldn’t. All I had to do as figure out how the computer worked (engineer) and tell it to create what I wanted in my heart (artist). Sometimes I wish I had more identity as an artist than I do. Other times I wish I was more of an engineer. But in the end I’m somewhere between an artist and an engineer–longing for the ability to create by hand beautiful works while settling for the help of a machine to create what I can’t on my own.

O.

Our First Snow Day in Czech

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Like a little child waiting for Christmas, I have been waiting for our first snow day in Czech. Today was that day, and it was beautiful. Bethany grew up with snow in central Washington, but being a child of southern California I didn’t see many snow days. There were a couple of them, but they were definitely few and far between.

Today’s snow didn’t really pick up until around 2:00pm, and we really needed to head to another town and do a few errands. After checking the weather forecast, we decided to take our chances and left early this morning for the mall that’s about 40 minutes away. One thing we needed was a cordless phone so we could connect our Internet phone which will allow us to make calls to the States. We ended up finding the perfect phone at a great price at the first place we looked. In celebration, and because our friends gave us a gift card, we headed over to Starbucks.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Much to our surprise, the Czech baristas wrote “Have a nice day” on our cup…in English! That and the drink we were a nice little treat. From where we were sitting in the mall we could see the snow starting to come down outside, so I wanted to make sure didn’t linger too long. Our next stop was the mall play place. Titus and Avery have mental maps of every mall we have ever visited with precision GPS that can guide them there so we really had no way out of that. This mall’s play place was actually new to us, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. One thing they had was this giant, 2-story twisty slide. Titus was too scared in the beginning to go down it, but Annie Oakley Avery had no problem climbing the stairs and shooting down the tube. Below is a video that Avery took while sliding all the way down. You’ll notice the little Czech boys in front of her trying to talk to her.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Eventually, Avery convinced Titus that the tube was “a slow slide” and he went down. Here they are going down together. You can see Titus leaning on his back (probably because he was nervous) and Avery is all smiles as they make their way down.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

It’s always worth mentioning just how kid friendly Czech is. We went into multiple stores today that had little kid activity tables. Here’s a photo at the grocery store (yes, the grocery store!) that had a little Lego table. I played with the kids for a bit while Bethany grabbed a few items. As an aside, you’ll often find grocery stores inside the mall in Czech, and this one was no different–it’s actually quite convenient!

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

The snow had been coming down, but wasn’t really sticking much until about the time we were leaving the mall. Here’s a photo of us walking back to the car and it was just starting to come down harder. When we got to our car, there was just a thin layer on it.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Right as we were arriving home, the snow really began to come down and was sticking. The kids had fallen asleep in the car but we managed to get them inside and lay them on their beds without really waking them up. As soon as we were settled, I grabbed my camera and took a few photos along with a slow motion video of the scene. Here’s a little 16 second video I got that I added some music to. The church next to our place looked so incredible as the snow was falling.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

This afternoon I setup our new phone and ended up talking to my mom in the States for a while which was a real blessing. It was just morning time for her so we chatted as I watched the snow continue to fall outside. When the kids woke up from their nap we got excited about going outside to play. Bethany had called her parents on the phone too and then we ended up video chatting with them, so they were able to watch us playing outside via the computer. Bethany held the computer by the window as we threw snowballs and made snow angels in the yard. I think I had just as much fun as the kids, and it was a real joy to just play with them. Here’s some photos from our time.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Avery had gotten a little cold and went back inside before I could get a photo of the three of us. But here’s Titus and me before we went back inside too. Yeah, I was excited.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

I truly praise God that our first snow day came on a Saturday where I could spend it with my family. Just seeing Titus’ face and hearing him laugh when we were throwing snowballs at each other will be etched in my mind for many years to come. Watching Avery do her best to build a little snow man with the dry snow was cute and special. But even more than that, one thing I noticed today was how beautiful Czech looked. Even some of the grungier parts of the city were covered in white, perfect snow. That, of course, reminded me of the gospel and the great hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” All the grungy parts of my life–my sin–are covered by the sacrifice of Christ, and now I’m washed, “white as snow.” Praise the Lord for His amazing kindness and grace towards me.