Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have a poster hanging up in my dorm room that I made a couple months ago which says: "MAKE ART as an outpouring expression of God's grace in your life." Tonight I turned my dorm room floor into an art studio: And made strong coffee: And made some sad art: And I made some happy art. Art like this: This one says "but you will find slowbreathing sleepyhappy REST." And more consolation art like this: Which says "And REAL God-breathed inspiration." And I made funny scatterbrained art for a friend. And I thought much about future art projects and the fact that people here constantly ask me why I'm a political science major instead of an art major. And I thought about self-expression and how "eros" means oneness and about two toothbrushes in a single cup on the sink. And I thought about The Republic and grace and words and Uncle Jack and Aunt Dorothy and ripples in lakes. And Megan sang me songs. And I defined myself in color.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday morning without classes.

I woke up at 9, sun streaming through the windows, my little sunflowers growing toward it on the windowsill, tangled in a sea of white-and-orange sheets and blankets. I threw on my favorite roommate hoodie (Roomz and I are practically married and we share clothes like none other), made a huge pot of coffee, carted my Bible and weathered copy of The Republic and my laptop and my coffee down the hall, and snuggled up in the nook. All morning I've been digging deep into the 6 pages of The Republic that provide the basis for my entire philosophy paper. Sunshine + Coffee + Plato. I love it. Tonight, after dinner with Megan (every interaction with Megan feels like a visit to the New York City MOMA), Shannon and I are doing our collaborative art project: I make the art, she photographs the art, and our friends are the canvases. Pure magic. It's going to be beautiful.

I thank God for this day.

Monday, April 26, 2010


"I like the way you see, the way you connect things and express yourself. I like your consciousness of 'man standing in need', how comfortable you are with human finiteness and the grayer areas and the commonplace and The Real. And I like what you're seeing in all of that. I know that all of this seems like a mess right now, but you know where you're going and what you want this to look like and where you want to bring it to rest. Just keep pushing it toward that point, toward your vision. You always have a great vision. Just be confident, Caroline," said my English professor this afternoon.

He was talking about my final English paper.
Or I think he was.
Maybe not.
Either way: it meant a lot more to me than simple editing advice.

He said it again as I walked out the door: "Just be confident, Caroline. Just be confident in what you're doing. You know where you want this to lead."

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need." -Hebrews 4:16.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The moon and things.

Tonight the moon swept me off my feet. I thought about my love for the moon and stars and my preoccupation with incorporating both into my art. It got me thinking more about what my art/words/relationships/daily life says.

There is a photographer whose work I really liked until about four months ago. Four months ago was when she started compulsively posting photographs of her and her boyfriend. Don't misunderstand: they are beautiful, envy-inducing photographs of their very sweet, deep relationship.

(And that is a huge however.)
She used to photograph things: rainy days, grocery stores, homeless people, patterns of light on the floor, old radios, people jumping, little girls laughing in red wagons. She used to say things. Now all I see is the same pose, the same cute expression, the same hands holding the same hands. I don't get it. After all, I'm guessing that he fell in love with her for the same reasons I fell in love with her photography. Those photographs--before Boy took center stage--spoke of simple grace, deep wisdom, love of Christ, hope, joy, whimsy, everyday adventures. As soon as they started photographing themselves holding hands, her photographs stopped talking. Her art stopped saying the things that brought them together in the first place.

I want to say things. I don't just want to throw words and colors and emotions and actions out into the cosmos. I don't want to splatterpaint my feelings and impulses like meaningless abstract art. I want to do more than word vomit. I want to live with intention. And as much as I love holding hands, I don't want a single one of my relationships, platonic or otherwise, to stop saying things either.

I want my art to speak. I want my music to speak. I want the way I interact with strangers to speak. I want to say things worth the words I use to craft them. I want relationships (and, eventually, a marriage) rooted on a mutual passion for the real, the true, the bright, the bold, the meaningful, the brave, the lovely, the Cross. A relationship based on things.

Yes, someday I will likely make art influenced by my inloveness with someone. I'm not belittling that. But inloveness is not something worth dying for, worth living for, or worth photographing for four months straight. Hold hands, sure. But say things too.

And take a look at that moon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I will appeal to this.

After 4 hours and a restless night, I had already started to cry on the walk to my 8AM class this morning. Yesterday was filled with tough decisions and today was bound to be tougher. From the moment I finished breakfast to the end of my 10AM philosophy class, I read and reread Psalm 77:

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I will seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints.
You hold my eyelids open, I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
I said, "Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart." Then my soul made a diligent search:
"Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?" Selah
Then I said: "I will appeal to this: to the years of the right hand of the Most High."
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

Now I'm drinking chai tea with soy milk in a leather chair next to the fireplace and writing papers like it's my job. Funny how things can turn around without turning around: I still have just as much work to do but after meditating on God's faithfulness all morning I am determined to live this day fully. He has been faithful in the past to His people through war, through storms, through death and loss. Won't He be faithful in my life for the next two weeks? God works wonders.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Come away with me.

My roommate and I escaped to the leather couch in the back corner of the lone coffeeshop in downtown Hillsdale. I needed a break, and she needed a break, and both of us have been struggling to minister to people because of profound restlessness and frustration with the fact that we're. still. here.

I need summer and I know it. I need my job back and my workaholic tendencies and I need to be uncomfortable in a place where I don't know everyone. I need to be stretched and I need to mature and I need the chance to be an adult. So I'm glad for summer and excited to see God's faithfulness through all the bleak spots. I crave perspective and distance and time and space and open air.

But right now, I need to be here. Here on the couch with Roomz listening to Norah Jones and thinking cozy, peaceful, sleepyhappy thoughts as term papers spill out of my fingers.

God give me the grace to keep loving this place for as long as I'm here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sister Winter.

Shaped, Coloured from VsTheBrain on Vimeo.

"All my gifts, I gave everything to you /
Your strange imagination /
You threw it all away /
Now my heart is returned to sister winter /
Now my heart is as cold as ice."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


City has lately become its own language for me. In almost the same way that music can wordlessly express and define thoughts and emotions, I've been speaking and hearing more and more through cityscapes. If Plato was right, and city is the soul writ large, then all of this makes sense. This past weekend I took a walk by myself through Chicago and stood staring for long stretches of time at the angles of the streets, the curves of the crowds, the way buildings connect and disconnect. Sometimes I see emptiness in the city, sometimes light, sometimes all I see is hand-holding couples, sometimes all I see is people walking alone. Cityscapes are fluid and expressive. For this reason city has dominated my art lately. (More on that later?)

This one line from Scatteredtrees has been repeating in rhythm with my heartbeat lately: "You know I'm trying to love beyond my years / Saying no to things I was always meant to need / Like saying what we mean." My little lovable liberal arts college has me worded-out sometimes. City has become a new form of expression: a way to express what I'm too tired to say outloud.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am growing sunflowers on my windowsill. Just now I discovered that two of them sprouted over the weekend. If that isn't an example of God's grace in our lives, then I don't know what it is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Before I forget.

Tonight was just beautiful. I watched the stars come out one by one, then watched my friends walk back into my life one by one. Every star and every hello caught me by surprise. After thinking about interpersonal grace and everyday beauty for an entire week, it was indescribably good to watch everyone click back into place like puzzle pieces. A single thought kept washing over me, each time I hugged another person back into my life: "You are worth every risk I've ever taken." Now I'm sitting in the dark with my roommate watching the lightning like it's our own personal fireworks show.

Could life get sweeter?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Oh the times, they are a-changing.

As I think about next year and its future changes, and how this summer will change the people I love best, I am challenged to remember what’s most important. Yesterday I found this song by Katie Herzig that I like, but I started thinking over the implications of the refrain: “I pray no one will find you / Oh I’ll stay right where I am / Until you come back / Don’t let me lose you / Before we have a chance to begin.”


How tempting it is for me to have this attitude. Change means risk. It means potential loss. It means potential awkwardness come late August when we all sit down and talk about how we’ve grown, explain our mistakes, apologize for long absences without any communication, rave about how our opinions have changed. It means (and I hesitate to write this because it makes me nervous) that I might come back to find that my friends have outgrown me. It is altogether too easy for me to wish that my friends not change over the summer, that everything stays easy. It’s too easy for me to pray for static relationships.

It’s clear where I’m going with this. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” -Ephesians 4:15-16. If I--my interests, my security, my emotions--were my primary concern in life, maybe I could let myself fear change. But because Christ is my primary concern, I am praying that my friends and I will grow this summer. Even if it means they outgrow me.

For this reason, I have lately been signing many of my notes of encouragement “love unconditionally.” After all: I don’t love you because of the promise that I’ll get something in return, or the promise that we’ll be together forever, or the promise that you’ll love me back. No, I love you for your own sake and for Christ. I want you to grow, flourish, learn from your mistakes, pursue Christ at all costs and direct your daily life appropriately.

Yes, it still leaves a lump in my throat to say goodbye and leave you to God’s unknown plan that, for the moment, doesn’t include me. But He is a skilled potter, and He will mould you into Christ’s likeness, and it will be a privilege for me to watch--even from a distance.

Therefore, friends: I pray that the loveliest of strangers will find you and steal your heart. I’ll run relentlessly after Christ until you come back and even if you never do. And I want God to take you places even if I lose you, and despite all the awkward conversations that might result.

(Love unconditionally.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Take a deep breath and.

After 11 weeks of school, I was subconsciously desperate for a break. Just a breather. To gain a little perspective. To reassess habits that I've been forming, intentionally or accidentally. To decide the right way to finish out the rest of the semester. To realize that I am unsure about a lot of things. To acknowledge again that I am finite, vulnerable, breakable, not in control, and completely--completely--able to get hurt.

Yet: I've been relentlessly flooded with inspiration. I visited Philadelphia, said hello to Baltimore, and spent 27 hours in DC, and ended up clutching a vision in my hands, sitting there restlessly and spilling through my fingers. It's a vision for post-college life. A lot of it is made up of things I've said before: City. Local church. Urban ministry. Job out there in the big world that takes passion and perspective. Fostering a deep marriage if it happens. Loving a couple of crazy roommates if it doesn't. Throwing my life at something--something big--with both hands.

I've also been filling in a lot of the outlines: What exactly I want to be doing. The kinds of organizations and companies I want to be working with. Who I want to be. What I want to declare with my life (Behold the man). And I've seen polaroid snapshots of what it can look like: Amy sitting outside Peregrine talking about her art firm and the stresses of the job search and her funny husband who doesn't like ethnic food and can't salsa. Lawyers talking shop, talking politics, talking grace, telling duck jokes. Banana-and-yogurt-and-lukewarm-coffee in the sunny kitchen. Devotions on the fire escape. Early morning runs when 5:30AM is the only time you can fit it in. Traffic that challenges your patience. Just a handful of stars splattered up above city lights. The grace-filled mundane. Beauty in the funk. Hope in the backalleys. The Gospel in the everyday.

And here's the thing. I want to forge my own vision. I've been doing it as an artist for years: taking a vision in my head, working at it with my hands until it is complete. It's never what I expect--it always surprises me--it always takes unexpected turns--but I like using my own hands to make it.

I want to use every day to declare something: For I deliver to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.