Friday, 6 July 2012

The Art of Keeping Up Appearances: A Memoir and Lesson

"One of the chief inhibitors of Christian fun is our fleshly tendency to keep up appearances." That, my friends, is people pleasing. Paul suggests that anyone who lives to please people isn't serving Christ. I read that in a book called "Victory Over the Darkness" by Neil T. Anderson. Wonderful how just a few words can really change your thinking and align you back to the Truth.

Galatians 1:10 says it best: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Being away from home, and school, I have noticed a great deal about the world, but mainly about myself and the way I've been putting up a front. At my University, I am literally in a Christian "bubble" that extends not just through campus but throughout the whole town, I'm sure.

Living on my own, with no one at the apartment to talk to usually, I end up sticking with my work buddies a lot. I spend most of my time with them, outside of work included (and these are the times I will always cherish). But working for 8 hours a day with these people has brought about a change of perception about the way I've been living my life, treating my friends. Getting to see how they interact with me and each other, as normal people with genuine concern for me and everyone, I had begun to see what I was lacking in my own life.

I hadn't been a friend to myself. I had been putting up a front that "all is well" in my world. It's been a struggle to share how I really feel with people. Its so easy to blend in with all the other Christians there, even within my own church. Shutting myself off emotionally, I fell into a trap. I think most of us can fall into this trap.

It took a hot-summer's jog around a pond (okay, okay, we walked) with a dear friend to finally just say it. I didn't know how to communicate what I felt. This is a big milestone in my life, and I pray God will use it to shape me more into the woman He wants me to be.

How is it that we can surround ourselves with friends and still be emotionally detached? Its a lie from the enemy. He doesn't want us to be free. He wants us to hold it all in and bear that burden...but look, Jesus Himself bore all that on the cross! He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30 demonstrated on the cross, arms open wide for us

So now, I take it as a prayer to fight for my own freedom from the daily struggles, because I know the war has already been won! Jesus promises us victory if we trust in Him. Im learning to give up using my own strength and ask for Him to lead me into His Truth, which is the only thing that sets us free for real!

What are your thoughts? Do you ever feel trapped in a bubble of sorts?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Song Series Part 1

Why I Write What I Do

This week has been so crazy, in the sense that I've been inspired suddenly to write 5 songs. Here is the first one. Im hoping to refine each one and post it as it comes, to be a source of encouragement and creativity.

This is a song I wrote for a dear friend. If you're feeling hopeless or afraid of the future or of something you're facing now, this song is about that. I even made a video to post for you guys, if you want to listen along!

By the way....its written from God's perspective. Just a heads up. :-)

Ill Be There

Verse 1:
When you feel restless and your heart begins to stray
Just know Ive got you and I'm never far away;
I'll be your guiding light, and I will hold you tight,
no matter where you go, I'm there--

And when the winter blows, Ill be there
My gentle arms will hold you, don't be scared,
and even when it hurts, I'll be there, I'll be there.
When skies above turn gray, and shadows seem to stay,
when all around you things keep changing…Ill be there

Verse 2:
Your hands are shaking and you're trembling inside
But don't you worry, everything will be alright.
Ive come to set you free, so you can run to me
and see the plans Ive made for you--


My love is stronger than your fear,
And I'm still holding all your tears,
The truth is stronger than you feel
But I can show you what is real…


I'll be there....

--© Diana Fadal June 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Graphic Design According to Christians

Hello! Im a Christian Graphic Designer and I have been discovering the role of artists and designers alike and how we relate our identity in the real world. I have just started working for a Christian company where I intern as a Graphic Designer. Here are some thoughts and things I have learned along the way about being a Christian and Designer. Feel free to scribble some out if you disagree, but I'm sure it may be better to leave a comment (that way your computer screen is less likely to hate you).

The Invention of Graphic Design
Being an artist and/or Graphic Designer is hard enough, especially in the economic situation at present and the lack of jobs available for freelance Graphic Designers to begin with! In our broad world today, being a Christian is even less popular, especially if you get out of the South. How can you glorify God with being a Christian Graphic Designer and reach the world as your audience when you have so much going against you?

Let's take a look at a few things from the Bible. I bet you never knew God was a Graphic Designer.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Genesis 1:1-2

See? God took something formless, dark, and empty and began the biggest, most beautiful work of art ever. The Great Star-Breather started off noticing there was darkness and created light, cleared the space, and began to work away.

"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness." Genesis 1:3-4

Now, Im no physicist, and surely I can imagine how difficult it would be for anyone to separate light from darkness by sheer willpower. Its hard enough separating your two children fighting over a misplaced Pokemon card they found. But anyway, what I've gleaned from these two verses was the fact that light was created to stand out from the darkness. So, we as Christians take that to heart and become people of light. We shine and reveal the darkness and sometimes that seems painfully exposing.

Christian Methods in Graphic Design
One thing we are to remember as Christians is that we live on earth, but not in it. 2 Corinthians 10:3 says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does." We've heard this before, I'm sure. So, in translating that to how we do Graphic Design, its quite simple. Our methods should look different. But what does that look like?

Being a Christian Graphic Designer does not look the same for everyone. Just because you're a Christian and Designer doesn't mean you have to slap a Christian Ichthus (the little fish symbol) all over your art. Your talents are given to you by God to make a difference in the world. Its a fine line between being portraying Christ in your work and being religious. According to this awesome article, Is It Hard Being a Christian Designer?

Many Christian Designers end up working freelance or for churches, doing bulletins, posters, tee-shirts, and all that other cool stuff you see your local Youth Group wearing. But sometimes you want to make a difference in the rest of the world; you know, the parts that think "Christians are like everyone else, but are just busy on Sundays". That's quite a wake-up call, isn't it? We must broaden our circles. The Great Commission calls us to go into all the world, not just to the "Christian bubbles." We should want to stick out, and create compelling art that moves people to Christ.

So, in saying this, as Christian Designers we can do many things differently to stand out. For those of you who appreciate organization, here's a numbered list.

1. Practice good stewardship by obeying your bosses and treating every client with respect; there's an attitude difference people will notice.
2. Being on time and honoring other people's time is not only a good way to get off on the right foot, but it shows that you truly care. Its a practical sign of love and respect. Your bosses will see your dedication.
3. Being excellent in your designs. You have the talent, you have the drive, now put it to use! Research outside of work and learn skills that the pros use so you can contend before kings.
4. Learn to appreciate good art. Both Christians and Non-Christians alike are capable of making something beautiful. Its not sacrilegious to listen to Radiohead or watch Titanic, because people everywhere can appreciate them as good works of art.
5. Choose to redeem the arts. You may see a powerful piece of art, or art that offends, and can decide, "I want to make something like that, lasting and compelling, but use it to point to Christ!" See what happens. For me, that looks like making Manga, or Japanese comic books, because some are pretty bad and I want people to appreciate the art and story without polluting themselves with something icky.
6. Do it with community. Its a really competitive field to begin with , and people will do whatever it takes to get ahead. Instead of trying to be the best, try working with other artists and designers to create something that will be different than what you imagined on your own strength. It may take practice, but this way helps get the focus off yourself and onto the bigger picture. After all its not supposed to be our story we are writing, but following along with God's.
7. Don't compromise your rest. God created, but on the 7th day He rested. He made that to be a part of our lives; as Christians we can demonstrate that God in us is able to help us be just as productive (if not more) with 6 days of work and one day of rest than with 7 days of non-stop work.
8. Ask, "Why do I do this?" Why design? Why art? Not only ask yourself this, but ask God. This is the most important thing. As Jimmy Seibert says, "Without vision, the people perish." So make sure you know what your vision is so you can know God is leading you to do art in this way to glorify Him, not yourself.

Being Excellent in Your Craft
There is one thing we often forget. We are called to a standard of excellence. Where have all the brilliant Christians gone? People like A.W. Tozer, Flannery O'Connor, C.S. Lewis-- all these master craftsmen of Christ and creative thinkers-- why aren't there more people like that? Have we stopped trying to be like Christ and started being like the world to gain acceptance? Can we be first and foremost lovers of Christ, who's love for God overflows into our work and designs? I would like to argue, "yes".

By raising our standards for ourselves, we can be excellent in our work and bless people through it. We can work for big companies and see people's lives changed by the way we interact with our co-workers. We can minister to people with our art. Many people suffer-- that's at least one common ground we share. So, as a designer, why not create a piece of art that represents a specific way that you've suffered, and post it. People relate to pain and are moved by art in such a way that it can touch them through that.

A good friend of mine told me the story of a Christian tattoo artists who found this kid on the streets doing graffiti. He took him in, and said, "Come and paint your art on my wall. Here, its good; here, it is legal." So now, at Art Ambush in Waco, TX, you will see a striking picture of an eye painted on the side of the wall, and now you will know the reason behind the art. It just got a whole lot more moving. As Designers, we can take people in and mentor them to do good with their art. We all have something to say, we just need to be trained in how to express it in a non-destructive way.

Art, Graphics, and Healing
One more interesting thing. I had a friend, Julianne, who went to Bethel to learn about creative arts and using them to glorify God. One very interesting thing was that people who loved Jesus and discovered their giftings were in art began to use it as a means of delivering prayer. There was a story about an artist who had been painting a picture for this family and all the while she prayed into it, basically, and asked the Holy Spirit for what to paint, and He said "Healing". The family hung it in their home and the man who had cancer was healed; it had such an influence on them because it was a prayer! We can do this with our art and design.

Finally, Dear Brothers...
Phew! That's a lot to say. So basically, that's just a lot of my thoughts put into words. If you found anything helpful, or confusing, or both, please post a comment below or on Facebook. I would love to hear your thoughts!


Friday, 20 April 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake Recipe: London Baked

I had been missing home for, what, EVER? Yes. So I decided to make Sopapilla Cheesecake. I mean, I had all the ingredients already bought a week earlier, so why not now? Did it have anything to do with the fact it was one of our lat nights at the Pickwick? Maybe. Last time before the coach tour, anyways.

Also you may be wondering why I chose to make THIS of all things to remind me of home. Maybe its acause I made it in Texas a lot, and maybe its because its slightly Mexican-flavored (thus, the Sopapilla part), which also is a prevalent flavor in Texas. Im not being racist, Im saying I love Tex-Mex food lol. So please don't be offended!

Here's the scoop:

The usual ingredients call for pie dough (but I like to use Pillsburry Dough Croissant roll sheets because they flake easily) but they had this sort-of-pie dough that was actually very wise to use for this recipe.

As Pioneer Woman would say, "here's the cast of characters":

1/2 cup Butter
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Cinnamon
2 Sheets of Pie Dough
2 packs of creme cheese
1 Tsp. Vanilla
an Oven
loads of love

So you want to mix the 2 packs of creme cheese with 1 cup of sugar; mix it in real well, and thats where the "loads of love" first comes in. I didn't have a beater/mixer so I just whisked away with a fork until they seemed to blend in a bit. Don't forget the vanilla! I should have added more sugar in retrospect... I didn't have a measuring cup. But then again, its hard to eat something that's TOO sweet. Even I have my limits (says the girl who delights in eating sugar cubes).

You take the pie dough sheet and put it flat on a pan. If it was the Pillsburry stuff, you'd pinch together the dotted lines so it doesn't ooze out when baking.

Pour the creme-cheesecake on the dough and smoothen til you can bear it no longer. Egads--er, Golly!
*I found out "Egads" is kind of like Medeival slang for the literal version of OMG. So don't say it ;-)

Put the other sheet on top and pinch down, sealing the sides with a fork. So its like a large tart almost. Then you melt the butter and drizzle it all along the edges and the center, spreading the wealth. More love to come:

THIS is love. Sugar and Cinnamon. You must very well have guts for this part, as it takes a lot of restraint to not pour it all over it, but you take the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cinnamon, mix it, and put it all over the dough. Its heavenly.

Once you bake it for like 10 minutes or so (until golden brown. Depending on the overn, you may need longer or shorter, but we used a British oven that worked on Celcius. So 212 C is like 350 F.).

Golden, glorious, fluffy love. Mmmmm~ And the crust is just amazing. Its a Puff Pastry pie dough, so that really WAS a good call.

Needless to say, everyone wanted to be my best friend. Laughing at this, I give everyone in the vicinity a nice slice and save one for Patrick and Jane, who are utterly delighted! Faith and I take the rest to Girl's Group and decide to run back after eating like 4 of them. Each. Heh-- there are some things in life that are too good to resist, after all!

Pip Pip, Cheerio!

I'll Follow You Into the Park

Here's the scoop:

Faith and I decided we were so brilliant, we should do a cover version of "Ill follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie. It had pretty much been our theme song for this trip (we sang it together huddled under a blanket when our bus broke down!). So, here's our clever remake, London style! Ok, its funny cause it sounds stalker-ish, but we totally imagined our Music Appreciation teacher, Robert Tucker, as acting it out in our imaginary music video. So, that's that: here's the lyrics!

Love of mine, you can try to hide, but I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the park;
No place to evade, no tunnels to get away
You'll learn to love some day
Love this soul that falls for you.

If Holborn and Russel Square become so crowded I can't ride,
And the only thing I can do is follow from behind
If there's no way to reach you when the tube departs,
Then Ill follow you into the park!
My dear, don't lie, you know how you feel inside,
All that you try to hide:
You know that you love me too.
One day you'll see Im really not that creepy,
I just follow you around, I follow you into the park.
I've traced your steps and found your used serviettes,
And shadowed you faithfully, and my love for you grows...
Through parking lots, and frequently your bus stops,
There's no place to run from me...
Cause I'll be in your room,
And we'll get married sooooooon~
Haha that's it! If you have trouble imagining, here's the original song. I'll post our cover soon if we get a chance to do it! (Ok, well I did do one but my computer recorded it in such a way that it play back warbled and I sound auto-tuned. So its Death Cab meets Owl City...)
Cheers, my dears!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Funny Pages

For those of you who need a pick-me-up or just something to smile about, look no further! I decided to post a blog about funny quotes and fun pictures to make you smile, like this :-D

Today I read an MLIA post that said
        "Today I read the post "Today I saw an MLIA saying "Today, I actually called Hogwarts ( 1-267-436-5109 ) and a siren went off it said "Muggle Alert Muggle Alert, we have determined you a muggle, we must obliviate your mind." Then it went beep beep beep, like a busy signal. MLIA!" so of course I tried the number. I got, a British woman saying "Welcome to Hogwarts school of Witch Craft and Wizardry, Hogwarts is an excellent boarding school for young witches and wizards ages 11 to 18 and then gave me a list of options to press. I guess I'm a wizard!!!!!!! MLIA" Hate to burst your bubble but first it tells you about Hogwarts and then it determines if you're in fact a muggle. I know. It crushed my dreams too. MLIA."
Naturally, I was curious and tried the number. The lady who answered didn't have a British accent, but an Indian one. I guess Hogwarts is outsourcing too. MLIA

Today I saw a bumper sticker that said "my zombie kid ate your honor student's brain." it really made my day. MLIA.   

Today, my friend asked me, "If people from Utah are called Utahns, what are people from Tampa called?" I laughed. MLIA.

OK! Now onto the cute, funny, and just plain awesome pictures section! If these fail to make you smile, I don't know what will! Enjoy~

 That's All for now, folks! Please continue to have a blessed day! Alas, I would have put a YouTube song about happiness on here, but YouTube is outlawed in the part of Paris we are in. Au revoir!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sheffield, the Lovely

We. Are. In. SHEFFIELD! Sheffield, England, that is!

Whenever I first knew I would be going to study abroad in London, I immediately thought of my friends, John and Ira Book, who were living in Sheffield, England and knew I had to see them!
Lindsay and I bought tickets to go see them, since we both came from Antioch back home. Carson later wanted to tag along to see what Antioch was like.

The train ride was epic: so, so green and hilly! I could almost taste the brilliant sunshine.
We got to the train station and were flabbergasted. The infrastructure was grand: it was a museum built into the train station, and we visited this awesome aquarium-themed room where anyone could crochet something to hang on the wall like coral reef! This is when I first saw Nadia, their 4-year-old daughter.

Oh. Em. Grapes! How presh! Last time I saw her she was not even one years old and I could not even touch her! She has grown so much, and she is so polite: my favorite part was that she not only spoke in an adorable British accent, but she always said, "Excuse me," to start off every sentance! John took us around and showed us Sheffield. The first thing he asked us was if we were hungry, and if we missed Mexican food. Uh, YES!!! So we got these awesome chicken burritos! Sorry, Chipotle, but I WILL be importing these burritos, because they are made in heaven! Anyways, Nadia wanted ice cream, and she got it. Or it got her? We caved in as well...haha!

We just crashed at their place, after that, and got to know Joshie, their one-year-old who's favorite thing to do (besides drool) was to look cute and be loved. Lindsay fell IN LOVE with these kiddos! You could not get her off of them! And the same way around as well. She is so good with kids, I just loved watching her, haha (but not in a creepy way!). Later that evening we helped Ira with getting stuff for this Kurdish-Arabic party at the church that night. We took the Tram, which is not at all like the nice, friendly Tube we know. It opens and closes within 5 seconds, and they dont stop for those cute little old ladies, even, who are inches away! So rude!

Kurdish night was interesting. So much hummus! And dancing, and ornate costumes, and equally ornate and confusing dances. I felt okay about getting up to dance with them, it did not seem hard! Just jump! And move your interlocked-by-the-pinky hands in a circular motion. Feel free to post a video of yourself attempting this. So yes, it was crazy acause we were expecting 20 people, not 50. Talk about friends bringing friends and their neighbors and their dogs! Pretty much the whole neighborhood came. We were surrounded by people from Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Somalia, and Eritrea, and a lot of people spoke Arabic. So sweet. Lindsay was happy to try the food, but when it came to dancing, she held the babies pretty conveniently so they couldn't make her go!

Next morning was glorious. We slept in and were woken up by Nadia (we shared her room), who said, "Excuse me, do you think I can switch on the lights?" How can you say no to that?! So presh, so presh. We got up and got ready to go to the PEAKS! Before you freak out too much, its the site of where Pride and Prejudice, and also The Princess Bride were filmed! It was so expansive: there were brownish-purple hills, and we learned just how dangerous drivers are in Sheffield. 60 mph speed limits down a narrow two-way crevice on a mountain. 10 dollars a gallon for petrol/gas. And we found out its called, "tyube" not "tube", so we are total hicks if we don't enunciate the "y" sound!

At the end of that journey we went to a 920 year old church that John Wesley preached at! It was alive and kicking. We stopped there to play hide-and-seek with Nadia in the open graveyard. Then we went inside because the service just ended and a flood of old people greeted us. It was Mum's day! They gave me a pot of gorgeous purple flowers, forever emblazoned in my mind. But they deserved to go to Ira, the real hero. Nadia promptly gave them to her when we returned.

The Antioch Sheffield service started around 4, and there was supposed to be a baptism service! So cool, another girl was added as well. She said she saw the tub and knew today was the day she was going to be baptized, so that made it 13 people! So cool, because young and old, male and female, Chinese, British, American, and any-other-ans all went in, all united in Christ. I caught their splashy debuts on film, so I'll see if I can upload a video of that for Sheffield, if you want to take a look. How beautiful.

Alas, like all things good and chocolately, must come to an end. Now I regret not getting that Twinkie I saw in the American Store. But John took us back, we hugged our goodbyes, and left Sheffield, refreshed and encouraged.