"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:3

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun Art Facts: Most Expensive Paintings Ever

Doing research for a class project, I came across this article about a Titian painting that just sold at Sotheby's for $16.9 million dollars.  And so - I began to research paintings that have sold for the highest prices in the past...

It seems there is discrepancies between each list I found (some adjust the prices according to inflation, and perhaps some were just in need of an update), but these paintings were close to the top on all the lists I found:
No. 5, 1948
Jackson Pollock
$140 million

Woman III
Willem de Kooning
 $137.5 million

3. (my personal favorite on the list!)
 Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Gustave Klimt
$135 million

Boy with a Pipe
Pablo Picasso
$104 million


Portrait du Dr. Gachet
Vincent Van Gogh
$82.5 million

Au Moulin de la Galette
August Renior
$78.1 million

I wonder what intrigued people about these paintings?   Is there one universal thing that we are all drawn to in art?   For me - I am intrigued by a personal connection with the  art.  I love to buy art from my friends, or art that expresses a feeling I relate to.  I wonder why these paintings were purchased; what the personal connections to these paintings were, or if they were bought just for their historical significance? Hmmm...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just another commentary on our American culture…

I am bewildered by the amount of TV shows that highlight our over-indulgent American culture. Most nights, I flip past “The Biggest Looser,” or “Celebrity Fit Club,” while MTV’s “I used to be FAT,” always seems to be on while I am in the gym.  At home, I flip past these to search for my new fascination - “Hoarders,”

“Hoarders: Burried Alive,”

or “Confessions, Animal Hoarding.” These shows focus each week on individuals that have experienced something tragic that it has created a void in their life.  They now try to fill this void with STUFF, food or pets. I watch, amazed.

At the same time, I have been reading David Platt's Radical - about how a radical faith in Christ means giving up everything; ourselves and our stuff - and traveling out into the World to share both the gospel of Jesus Christ and our material possesions with others.  While attempting to do this very thing myself last year- I obsered how another culture (where hoarding things or over eating simply aren’t options) deals with grief and pain.  I observed things that actually helped people heal and move on, instead of just mask the pain. 

In our American culture, we tend to focus inward, and ask, “What can I do to fix this?” while the african culture tends to focus outward, and instead, they ask a higher power for help. Their help comes from two sources, which I believe the Bible agrees with:

1. Community: Everything in the African villages is done TOGETHER – as a community – everything is talked about and dealt with as a group.  And, the Bible agrees: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiates 4:9-10

2.God: Other cultures (most specifically third world cultures) have a greater understanding of their great NEED for God. When an African has a tragedy, he or she cries out to God. And it is God and God alone who can give comfort and hope.  And the Bible agrees: "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." Psalm 62:5

It is so freeing to realize that our need for STUFF is cultural; that we don't really NEED all the stuff we think we do - and it is empowering to acknowledge God as the creator and giver of all things - even when times are tough.   All we need is Christ, and everything else will fall into place.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just found this - but should have been part of the entry below!

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
-C. S. Lewis

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who are you seeking?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD…” Jeremiah 29:13-14

We are all seeking something.  Some of us relationships, others jobs or cars or a new pair of boots (that one is me), but all of us for some sort of truth in this world; for God and for purpose.

This week, I began reading (listening) to David Platt’s book Radical, and I began to consider the possibility that some times I may be much less seeking the true God, and more often seeking some sort of a “god” that fits my needs and desires. 

As Americans, we are used to having control of our lives.  We are used to being given a check list and told “start here.” But, like Platt writes – that is not what the gospel is about and that is not what the true God requires of us. He doesn’t need us to check off anything for Him, instead He asks that we give up our checklists and schedules and simply follow Him.

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39

So, take a minute with me today to re-examine what “god” you are seeking.  To me this means daily working against our culture and human instinct. If you are like me and sliding into a relationship with a “god” who just wants to make you “happy” - STOP - and do the opposite: completely give up your desires and needs, and begin to search for TRUTH, remembering that He promises that when we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him.
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When things come together...

"When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." 1 Corinthians 14:26

It's funny how "things come together." Life, it seems, is just big circles - never ceasing to overlap in the most peculiar and unexpected ways. Some days life looks like it doesn't make sense, and then there are days when I can sit back and just see all the tiny little pieces fitting together perfectly.

Is it just coincidence when parts of life, like an infinite and intricate puzzle, just slide into place, as if it were always destined that way? No, I don’t believe so – I believe our great God has designed it all before us. I don’t believe this because of a hunch or a feeling, but because God says so:

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
– Psalms 139:13-16

My colorful creation was made with all the “left over” pieces of model magic from our color wheel projects today. What a great illustration of how seemingly random things can become something great together.

Here are some pictures from the project and the fun after!
(Model Magic is AMAZING - and the colors mix great!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

War Eagle!

Here is the aftermath of the National Championship game in downtown Auburn! It was pretty awesome!

Untitled from Lauren Johnston on Vimeo.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Y'all better hunker down, now!!

Fear hit the plains of Auburn, AL yesterday - all sorts of "regular" people could be found doing strange things.  Some motivated by the sheer fear instilled in us by the channel 12 news team - others out of their civil "hunkering down" duty - while others just caught up in the moment, or in the "crowd" psychology - either way - by the time I made it to Publix at about 4 PM - the wall of batteries was sparse, and buggies were full of whatever sort of bottled water and canned goods people could get their hands on.  Nope - none of us Alabamians have a clue what to do in an "ice storm" and this one was going to be "bad."  Schools and businesses (except J&M Bookstore) are closed.  Most people in Auburn, AL are praising the Lord for such conditions - as our team, the Auburn Tigers are playing in the BCS Championship game this evening - and such weather allows for pre-game festivities, and this is a serious matter around these parts.

So, here's our ice storm:

Today, it really is freezing outside, and we should all take to the roads with caution - but I don't know if closing schools and hunkering down were necessary?  Anyways, I don't know if the storm got us all thinking, or if the Lord simultaeously prompted all our hearts - but conversation at dinner last night was about "doomsday"- i.e. Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the World, and even the sermon at church was about being ready for Christ's return, entitled, "Ready?"

So, the world may be ending here in Auburn - but when I flipped on the Today show this morning - the rest of the World seems to be fine - so I am feeling optimistic about it all!  Having some time to think about preparing for the Lord to come back - I began to contemplate whether it is right to motivate "readiness" by instilling fear on believers? So, digging into the TRUTH: We do not know when He is coming (Matt 24:36) - but in Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about how we will feel if we are excluded from Heaven - shamed.  So - I think its a balance - we should not get "ready" out of fear - but we should know the facts - that Jesus is coming back and we do need to be "ready" ALL the time.  

So, how to we get ready?  We follow God's commandments - He says to COME, to WAIT, to REST, to have FAITH, and TRUST HIM ALONE.  None of these things elicit specific actions - but each one calls us to open our hearts and minds to God's leading.  I don't think we can "ready" ourselves - but I believe we can choose to allow God to prepare our hearts.

And just for fun - I don't see Jesus coming back in an ice storm - I see him coming back on a glorious sunset, more to the likes of these:

But, I guess we'll see...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ninah Update!

Some of you who have read for a while may remember Ninah.  She was a blessing sent into our home in Africa - she maybe had the biggest impact on me personally of any experience I had while overseas.    We were able to foster her for a short period of time.  She was rescued from Northern Ghana.  When we got Ninah, she was almost one year old, but only weighed 8 lbs!  

Here she is the day we met her:

And the day I left Africa:

And now -- we just got these pictures of her - she is smiling and sitting and looking so healthy! Praise the Lord!

There are even adoption plans in the making!

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm back:)

Hopefully, at least! Here are a few highlights from Christmas break:

Christmas party with Dad

Tracey's Birthday

Shopping with Hannah

Ghanaians on the farm riding horses - couldn't have done it without Lydia!

Charleston for New Years!

Sara, my roomate from Ghana came to visit this week - so we went and ate red red with my Ghanaian family!!!!! Sooooo fun!

And - I know actual Christmas was in there somewhere - I just couldn't find pictures! And - now, school has started back!  Wow - the break flew by!!!!