And Action

This is a beautiful blog post about a sweet friend of mine who has shaped my life back in high school, and I want more people to understand that you can truly have freedom, like her.

Narrative of Sounds

I know a girl who does what everyone else only thinks about doing.  While everyone thinks about how nice climbing a tree would be, she is already up among the branches. Some would say she does not think at all, but I know better. She is a woman of action, uninhibited and free. At times in my life, I envied that carefree innocence. Growing up my heart was so muddled by responsibility, too chained to carefulness, and so consumed with perfection that my spirit seemed always one step behind her. I love to be around her because she is free. Her words are not hindered by self-consciousness or insecurity, and she takes risks that most consider to far against caution. This girl makes me laugh probably more than anyone else, and her simple approach to life convicts me of my over complication of the love of God and the wrong-ness of…

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Lyrical Illustrations

Lately all these song lyrics and stencil-like images run through my head, bursting and pulsing at the tips of my mind like jostled nerve endings. I have to let it flow, bring the follow-through, and share the pictures.

The lyrics will be credited to the song artists, and the images are either stock photos or borrowed from (credited as well). All illustrated images are made by me, for your viewing pleasure. I have more to post, so stay tuned.

You’ve Saved Me From The Darkness… (Diana Fadal)


JOY Is Now My Home (Diana Fadal)


Your Name is Higher Than The Rising Sun (All Sons and Daughters – “Rising Sun”)

YourNameIsHigherphoto credit: rogiro via photopin cc

You Are Making Me New ( Michael Gungor – “Beautiful Things”)

youAreMakingMeNewphoto credit: jaci XIII via photopin cc

I Am Set Free (All Sons and Daughters – “I Am Set Free”)

IAmSetFreephoto credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc

Mature My Love (Sam Fagan)

MatureMyLovephoto credit: code poet via photopin cc

A Commentary on Creativity


Melted crayons on a canvas show beauty and spontinaity

I help lead a Kid’s Club with my church on Fridays. I’m also in charge of crafts and that means coming up with new ideas every week for the kids to do, besides coloring pages. When we do coloring pages I realize that some kids (mainly the boys) do a few scribbles and then get “done” and want to go play while the girls tend to be more meticulous and add a splash of color, making it “just right”. My observation was this: these kids need to be challenged to be creative. Why is that so important anyways? I think it’s because God made us in His image:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26

He made us all to be creative, like Him. He created the world, and He created us. It’s kind of in our nature to want to create. It’s like a birthmark you can inherit from your parents– He’s given us a mark of beauty in us, a desire to create. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find my birthmarks embarrassing.  You have to grow into it and eventually you become proud of it because it doesn’t define you but it sets you apart in a very unique and simple way. So we all have inherited the birthmark of creativity from our heavenly Father.

The Rend Collective, a band from Ireland, totally sees and understands that God made us all with a longing to be creative like Him. They put it best in their song, “Desert Soul”:

//I’m lost without
Your creative spark in me
I’m dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings//

In addition to this, my best friend found this amazing TED talk on creativity  that acknowledges that creativity is indeed God-inspired. So, in meditating on all of this, what does it mean for us to be “creative beings”? I believe creativity flows just like the Holy Spirit. So, when I see kids coloring and creating, I don’t have any real expectations for them to create anything magnificent that you typically see displayed at the MET, or something. But their work still has value. It’s the expression of God, that “creative spark” in all of our souls that makes us want to spread color and light and string and confetti all over a canvas, whatever it may be. We were born to express our souls with more than just words. It’s a release.

We don’t always feel the urge to create. Sometimes creativity doesn’t come out and we call it “artist’s block” or something like that. I don’t know why that happens. But I do know God supplies us with inspiration all around. We should be filters of that beauty– that’s why people create. We want to break it down into manageable chunks and show the world our snapshots of the beauty going on all around us. For me, being an artist is being a filter. Sometimes nothing comes out, but that doesn’t mean something is necessarily wrong. Often times there are things that block the filter but they just may need to be broken down a bit more before the water can really “flow”. Artists also are charged with the challenge to filter beauty and make the important things stand out. It is a high calling and a conviction brought onto us by the grace of God. It is a high calling to speak the truth and speak it boldly– so take heart, artists! Your calling is a high one, and often difficult, but so necessary for healthy life.

Jesus Doodle

The Pantocrator of Jesus, doodled in kid’s markers

That picture of Jesus (Pantocrator) is a doodle I did one night babysitting, when I had some spare time to sit and breathe. It just came out. But it also took some planning. I knew I wanted to doodle but I wanted to see what I could make with nothing but kids markers and construction paper. I knew I wanted to make something of beauty with very little resources. I wanted to create and be spontaneous but also have a plan. This is a different kind of creativity than the kind that flows like a child coloring a sheet of paper. It’s a challenge. It’s a story. It’s a snapshot of my heart in the moment. People can create just to create or they can refine it to reflect a truth that more people can understand. All of it is beautiful.

In saying all of this, creativity can be a choice– but if you choose to use the creativity God gave you, it will come out in the ways God made for you to express it. You can create whether you are a doctor, a teacher, a sunday school preacher; a mechanic, dentist, blacksmith apprentice (Yes I made all that rhyme, thank you very much) because God made us all to help people and bring something to the world that was previously not there before. That, my friends, is creativity in a nutshell.

Now for the fun part. What are some ways that you get inspired? When do you feel most challenged to create? Are you in need of some creative sparks right now? Not to be cliche, but the Bible is literally a great source of inspiration, and the scriptures always paint beautiful word pictures that uplift the soul. Try reading a Proverb or Psalm and see what happens!

How to Relate to God & What Friendship Has Taught Me

There are always new things I find myself learning about God in daily circumstances. I see how His character is revealed in nature, in a moment, in a sunrise, the scent of something familiar, through class discussion, and especially through people. I’ve had this wonderful chance to have a best friend and learn more about the character of God because of this special blessing. Here are some few things I have learned about His character through my best friend and my friendships with others.

God is Relentless

As I listened to Hillsong’s Zion album and heard the lyrics that “[His] love is relentless”, I started to think of what that actually meant. My best friend and I just had a discussion about the ways that make us feel most loved; quality time came up big for us both. Since we live far away from each other, we don’t always get that. But Jesus loves us all the time. Relentlessly. He can spend unlimited amounts of time with us. He is always around and is surely not limited by time or space. I’m so thankful for that. I kind of wish I could love people extravagantly, all the time, like our God, you know? Here’s the song if you want to hear just how relentless His love is.

He Is the Best Listener

My best friend is really good at asking questions, and I am so thankful for that. I feel known when someone inquires about my life and when they ask me questions. I feel like, if God is so personal, wouldn’t he be asking me questions? “Diana, what do you think about me?” “What do you want me to give you today?” “How can we spend more time together today?” “Did you see that flower I made?”

And you know what? I want to ask Him questions too.

“Lord, why do you love me?” “I’m kind of anxious about X, Y, and Z… what are you saying about this?” “And how can I be wise with my time this morning?” “God, what do you think about me?”

Sometimes it’s hard to treat God like a person because we can’t see, touch, or feel Him the way we do with people. He listens to me all the time, but am I the one listening back? I can read His word and find out that He does speak to me through it… it’s like reading a love letter over and over again. I want to listen and I want to talk to God. Like I would with my best friend.

Jesus is Forgiving

If you are a living human being, chances are you have been hurt by someone, and hurt another person. If you are close to someone and hurt them, it hurts you too. Whenever I know I hurt my friends I know I want forgiveness right away because it hurts my heart to hurt them too. For humans, grace doesn’t come that easy– we have the Holy Spirit to lead us as Christians to forgive each other, but we also take the hurts we have felt in the past and weigh them in, too. God is the best at forgiving. He teaches me so much through my friends how to forgive.

One of the biggest learning moments in forgiveness I’ve had was when a good friend of mine got engaged and we all went to the lake. She gave her ring to me to put in her shoe on the beachy shore… and for a second I thought I lost it! She looked at me with a calm expression, and said “It’s okay, Diana– even if you lose it I will forgive you. I won’t hold it against you”, or something to that degree.  I had so much peace and honestly, I was shocked that she was so calm about it. It was her engagement ring!! She knew her treasure was in heaven and that loving a person was a bigger priority for her. in this way, I have seen God in a different way– just how much He really forgives us. I could do things much worse than lose a wedding ring, all the time, and still God casts those offenses away in a heartbeat, not even bringing it back up next time. he loves us, period: no strings attached.

God is a Jealous God

Okay. So we know jealousy is wrong, right? Sometimes I don’t understand why God says He is a “jealous God”… when He also says to not covet from a neighbor, and to not have jealousy or envy. James 3:14-16 says

” But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

I can see how jealousy can be destructive. Sometimes we get jealous when people spend time with others and not with you… I might get jealous if I couldn’t spend time with my best friend even though I want to, and it happens vice-versa. It’s cause I wanna be with her and spend time with her too. So now I understand that God is jealous in the sense that He really, really, really wants to spend time with me and be the first person I run to and hang out with. He just wants me. And it makes me feel loved, and wanted.

I realize most of this sounds like a stretch and I’m not sure what’s theological or not about this, but all I know is that God is jealous of my heart and wants to spend time with me. Thank you, God, for wanting to spend time with me!

God Really Has Good Things For Me

A verse found in Romans 8:28 says,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy getting good things. Gifts from people show me they are thinking about me. I don’t usually care if it’s big or expensive, or anything really. A gift is a “good thing” for me, because it shows me love in a way that connects to my heart. One day my best friend had this craving for Cadbury eggs (since they came out promptly 2 months before Easter and all), and when i came over to her house she told me she got me one too, so we could enjoy them together. Just the fact that she thought of me and got me a little chocolate egg so we could enjoy it together touched me. And it was delicious.

So God has “good things” for us, right? I think that he just really loves us and wants to spend time with us, so He blesses people. There’s a lot of people touting the banner of “prosperity and health for you and your family”, but that’s not the Gospel. The Gospel is that we are broken people who try to find our own way and don’t know that this great person, Jesus, who is actually God, can bring us back to being complete people, free from fear and confusion and pressure, and can show us a better way to live and love. This is why I follow Jesus. He wants us to know that peace and freedom and, free of charge. He likes to bless His people because He loves us, not because we do anything “super good” or “deserving of anything”.

He Is Safe, and Knows What He is Doing

Weaving colors

Tapestry of color

I for sure feel like my life is being woven like a tapestry. Sometimes I see the vibrant colors He is weaving and when I don’t see the thread then, I sort of freak out. I don’t always know what I’m doing or where I’m going, and it feels dangerous and uncertain at times. My friend Faith is someone who has always seemed to know what she’s doing– she’s always certain where she’s going and how to get there, and can certainly follow through. At least that’s the impression I got whenever we were in London traveling together. I felt safe, like I could count on her to know where and how to get to where we were going. I’m not always the best with directions, you can certainly ask ANYBODY, and they will tell you I can’t navigate my way out of a paper bag. Although since London I have gotten better. There was this one time we were running through the streets of Camden and I felt sick and decided to take the Tube back. I got lost for half an hour… still, I made it back and Faith laughed.

So, in relating this to God, I really see that even if I don’t know the next step, He really does. In fact, He knows the B-I-G plan, and when He’s weaving something in my life I can’t see and can’t touch and I just have to have faith He’s leading me closer to Him in the end. In the process it’s scary and can hurt but in the end, I know there will be a small section of my life that’s actually a part of a bigger tapestry that I could never see. In the places I didn’t see Him weaving I know He was making something beautiful behind the scenes, or else making room for a new color. And have you seen the flip-side of a tapestry? It’s ugly and tangled and looks like a mess… and sometimes I find myself being on that side of the tapestry, unaware of what’s being woven on the other side. It’s all I can do to hand the needle back up to God, though I don’t know what the next pattern is, or where the string is going next or where it will end up.

I can’t wait to see the beautiful ending, to see the big picture in the end– and for now I’m so thankful to have amazing people in my life, like my best friend and my boyfriend and my family. These people are significant strings in my life and I’m so glad God chose them to be woven into my story. Glory and honor be to Him, the great Creator of stories!
photo credit: lovefibre via photopin cc

Exciting Hobbies To Partake of When Becoming Elderly

As I ran 4 miles through the familiar park one day in Belton, I realized just how many new hobbies are out there in the world. I saw an old man with a metal detector and red, spherical bucket (I perceived it was so by the way he jangled it around in a satisfied way as if it held some new dusty treasure). There he was, in the grass, by the pond. Not a care in the world but to find the next misplaced coin from the 1940’s or someone’s lost watch or even the occasional gold tooth. Okay maybe I’m kidding about all that, but seriously- how cool was it that this old man was in the park with a metal detector!?
I can answer that. Very Cool. This made me covet for a second but after I repented I decided, “hey! I want to have some cool hobbies when I’m old and have time to do random things and money to spend it on!”- well, somebody’s gotta make a list!

When you’re young (like me) all the cool hobbies are doing things like knitting, playing guitar and/or banjo, ultimate Frisbee (ugh! Do you know how long it took me to spell that write!) and occasionally baking. When you’re old and bored and have nothing fun to do… remember this list. Here we go.

1. Skydiving –

check out this 80 year old woman’s experience!

2. Riding Roller Coasters –

A 78-year-old man rode a Pittsburgh-area roller coaster 90 times in one day – bringing his lifetime total to 4,000 rides.

3. Metal Detecting –

Quite possibly the best $69 (roughly) you’ll ever spend your retirement money on. Here are some cool stories on why they rock.

4. Car Tattooing –

Li Zongxiong, 71, a workshop owner, started to ‘tattoo’ his car, two trucks and a motorbike in 1999.

5. Crocheting pot-Scrubbers-

My best friend brought me back a pot-scrubber her great great aunt crocheted. I thought it was a wonderful idea. I use it all the time and want to also be able to bess people with stuff like this when I’m old and can no longer bungee jump on the weekends. – Tutorial – Free pattern and Instructions

So what about you guys? What kinds of hobbies do you think you will want to take up, either now, or when you’re old and (hopefully still) adventurous? Please leave a comment or two.

When God Met The Miserable: A Review of “Les Miserables”

Director's chair

Jean Valjean; prisoner to prince

I never cry in movies. I hardly cry at all in real life. Ask any of my friends. For the second time since this wonderful movie (musical?) hit theaters, my heart has never been so touched and so surprised to cry– and cry hard. The first time I was with my friend Naomi (if you recall she also made an appearance in my last blog post about Blue Like Jazz). She and I both cried and wept and agreed: it was a spiritual experience. Thank you, Sam Fagan, for informing us it would be something powerful. I will never forget this movie and it’s exceptional story and power. Thank you also, Faith, for wanting to see if I needed a hug after this because I was shaking so much. Ha. Good times.

The true power of the movie, moreso than even the music, was the message behind it. The message of forgiveness. God “met the miserable” people on earth by showing us His great love and forgiveness at the cross. Without being too preachy, I will try to elaborate. In this movie, the main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, ladies and gents) was shown extraordinary kindness and “given hope when none was found” by a kind priest in the mountains. In return he broke parole and began a new life– thus we see the transforming power of Jesus and what forgiveness can do. I have realized, it is definitely a very Christian trait to forgive. I like how the NLT says it (this is in context of a prostitute Jesus was defending):

“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47

So Bam! Love. Right off the bat we see a huge part of Redemption. This theme is only reinforced and magnified throughout the film. As Jean Valjean leads his new life, he constantly makes these incredibly hard decisions– all of which revolve around loving others and then surrendering himself to be taken in once again. He spares an innocent man’s life though he is given a chance to use his death as a means to escape the curse of the law. Yet he does this one act which spins him into a non-stop pursuit of fleeing from the law personified, Captain Javert (Russell Crowe). If you have read the book or seen one of the musicals/plays/movies, you know the turning point. Read no further if you don’t like spoilers. Just sayin’. Valjean is finally given another opportunity to end the life of his deadly pursuer, and yet he lets him go– without manipulation, stipulation, or any kind of compensation. This, my friends, is huge. This is where we see even more the power of Grace and forgiveness. To not be aware of that, well, I believe you might need to experience this for yourself. It is powerful.

As you have noticed, I am not here to gush about the technological aspects or theatrical elements or even musical talents of the cast thereof. That would do no real justice to the story. The story of how Jean Valjean loved this little girl, Cossette (Amanda Seyried), and loved her mother unto her death, and loved everyone he came in contact with. He loved his enemy; he loved the young man who would come and carry his daughter away to be his bride; he loved the poor and saw them (he became the mayor of the town to employ and help hundreds of people, not to mention he got down and dirty and lifted a cart off from a fallen man). Such love can only come from one who has truly been loved by God.

The movie says it best: “To love another person is to see the face of God”.

And you know what? It doesn’t end there. I have a few friends who have questioned Christianity because they think when we get to heaven all we do is sit around on clouds and look at God. Jesus, here, has a little bit of Truth to spread about that:

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

At the breathtaking conclusion of “Les Miserables” we see the souls of the departed, echoing their anthem and fight song, all together, all like one. The “castle on a cloud” Cossette sings of. This is truly a picture of heaven for me. Jesus wants to show us He is all about community, and we often forget that we got it. When we die, there is a place prepared for us– a place where we can go and not only see Jesus but hang out with him and a bunch of other loved ones! Needless to say, I cried at the ending.

Blue Like Jazz: A Night with the Director

“Buckel Up- We’re Going to Austin!”

For those of you who didn’t know (like me), the movie “Blue Like Jazz” came out a while back, in April. It had been a sensation in the bookstores (which surprised me)- but even more surprising to me was the fact that this whole movie was funded almost completely by Kickstarter. You can read a good review of the movie here, if you’d rather hear more about that. Otherwise, Im just gonna lay down the events of a night that was bigger than just a movie viewing.

“Hashtag college life” is what I feel like saying as I write this post: it all started with a simple Facebook event and the urgent desire to want to go see the screening of Blue Like Jazz on a Monday night in Austin, TX. With a spontaneous gleam in my eye, I set out to see who would be along for the adventure. Because of the last minute nature of the endeavor, only one person could come along with me for the ride. Someone God knew needed to be the one to go with me. Had this person not have gone, we both might have missed something BIG God was doing that night. Enter Naomi Flores, a one-of-a-kind woman of God who loves film.

Anyways, that’s just the prequel. We got there a bit late at the SAC due to horrible parking options and careless University students haphazardly walking in front of all the cars like they were merely imaginary creatures, such as narwhals or jackalopes. But I digress. When we finally had enough of those shenanigans, we cried out to God (sort of just in a joking way, at first) to help us find a parking spot. Finally we did- and it was perfect. We just saw a glimpse of His humor then- wait til you hear what happens later!

Enter the Hero: Don Miller’s Story Unfolds

Upon arriving 15 minutes into the movie, we finally found Tim Stewart (a friend we were going to meet), in the dark, somehow. He promptly filled us in. The effect of the movie was gradual, but poignant.

For those of you who have not seen it (or read it – or kindled it – or whatever), here’s a bit of an overview: Its pretty much the cinematic memoir of a young Don Miller as he left his comfortable life in Texas as a Southern Baptist Christian to party it up at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The story continues. Without revealing too much of the plot, I noticed that the director was not afraid to be really real, honest, and open about what really happens in the world. It was totally not what I expected.

Most of Don’s friends in the movie ranged from a fiery Lesbian to a misanthropic Pope (you just have to watch the movie and see what I mean! ) to a girl who was just trying to figure things out, make a difference in the world, and just so happens to have found a home in the church. Inevitably all of the characters play significant roles in aiding Don (or rather, egging him on) to reveal who he really is, and what he stood for. The end of the movie is such a good representation of redemption and restoration…it is the perfect climax of the movie.

The Astronaut: blue like jazz

As I watched the movie, I noticed there was not a lot of “noise” to the story- it was straightforward and each scene was critical or beneficial in some way to the storyline. The characters were relatable. And then, it was stirring- it raised a lot of questions about the Church and Christianity. It was a movie of controversial appeal, and I could tell why.

After Everything, More Became Clear

To continue at this point, I’ll have to back up a bit and start from there. At the entrance of the viewing room there was a Clear Water campaign station; they gave me an “X” on my hand– every 8th person to walk into the room would receive one. At the end of the movie, everyone with the X stood up to symbolize how 12.5% of the world’s population dies needlessly due to unclean water- a problem that can be prevented. The proceeds of going to see this movie would be to help fund building a clean water well in Rwanda.

Soon after that, director Steve Taylor took his stand. I was amazed at how humble and genuine he came across. He told the crowd that this was a Christian movie of a different kind- it wasn’t a family movie, or anything like the movies that roll out of Georgia, he joked. Oh we could tell. He later discussed the difference between being a Christian who makes films and just making Christian films.

The Best Part

We got to talk to him at the end- but talking with other people is what really sparked things up. Hearing people’s reactions and opinions on the movie was pretty neat, especially when people asked questions like “What were people’s responses to the church as they first saw this?” and stuff like that. Steve said it was mixed and believed it was a good segue to open the topic up to discussion between people.

In line for him to sign our copies of Relevant magazine (complementary issues featuring Don Miller’s interview), we met these people who had a connection to people I knew in Austin, as well as to UMHB of all places! Naomi even got to meet the father of one of her friends for the first time- apparently he had been involved in this screening!

So many other small and big things happened that night- so many connections and laughs and mysteries. Overall, we saw the beauty of God in this movie and how He redeems us even when we feel abandoned by the church. He is always bringing us back to Him in ways that might not make sense until we really “get it”. Don’s story may not be as unique as you think. My prayer is that you will see this movie and see how God is chasing after you, desperately.

The following quote pretty much sums up the book, the movie, and life. Don himself says it best:

“There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her.”
― Donald Miller

Also, let me know if you’d like to watch the movie with me! I bought it from them there and, in haste to take a picture, forgot to get it signed. Thats okay though, as there will be an opportunity for that when they screen it again at UMHB in February 2013! Hope to see ya then!

photo credit: erichood via photopin cc