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I'm Writing an Art Philosophy Book
By Elliot Hawk, Art Teacher
Blog Post for June 2024

As I sit down to reflect on my journey here at Upton Lake Christian School, I am filled with a sense of awe and wonder at how far I've come and the path that still lies ahead. Now in my 4th year, I realize how much I’ve grown as a teacher, as an artist, and most importantly, as a believer. I’ve fully embraced the fact that my walk with God is uniquely tied to the artistic talent he’s bestowed upon me. So much of my worldview is filtered through a lens of creativity, and it never ceases to amaze me how many parallels I find in my creative journey, as well as my spiritual walk. Because of this, I’ve felt compelled to document my particular Art Philosophy and to refine it into something that will bring glory to God's kingdom.

Honing my skills and developing my own method of teaching Art has been both an enlightening and humbling experience, guided in no small part by the Holy Spirit itself. Although the book is not fully complete yet, I'd like to share some of the concepts that you will find within it. The inception of the book wasn't a sudden burst of inspiration; rather, it was a gradual unfolding of ideas, thoughts, and reflections over my entire life and more specifically, the last 3.5 years of being an Art Educator here at ULCS. It's a culmination of my lifelong passion for art, my curiosity about the human experience, and my unwavering faith in our divine Creator. From the very beginning, I sensed that there was something profound waiting to be unveiled – a point of view that could bridge the gap between art, life, and spirituality. Something that’s easily accessible, practical, and pragmatic; a philosophy that is innate to the human experience. Built upon an undeniable truth which ought to empower everyone to engage with the beauty of God's creativity through forthright attention.


Diving into the depths of artistic exploration has been like a dance with the divine. One where each step you take is guided by the rhythm of your heartbeat, the wisdom of the Creator, and the gentle whispers of the Holy Ghost. Through this creative process, the Lord has revealed to me many interesting concepts and connections that I believe are inseparable from the human condition. These concepts emerged like pieces of a puzzle falling into place. Things like, Mastery, Integrity, Authenticity, & Empathy are some of the core messages in my Artistic Worldview. The notion that we are both God’s creation and individual creators, reflections of God's image, and endowed with the ability to participate in the act of creation, has become the cornerstone of my philosophy. Within the book we will take a journey through all the foundational lessons of Art, such as Line, Shape, Form, Color and more, all of which will mirror the journey of life itself. Ultimately, my goal is to help others to learn to see more clearly, focus on what matters, think deeply, discern wisely and how to take action with intention and purpose.


While the book is still a work in progress, I can't help but feel a sense of anticipation and excitement about the prospect of sharing these ideas with the world. I believe that the principles I've compiled hold the potential to transform not only how someone might approach art but also how we navigate our existence. The road ahead may be filled with challenges, revisions, and countless moments of introspection. But that's just a regular Tuesday for an artist like me – And with the unwavering belief that God is guiding my steps, I am committed to pouring my heart and soul into this book.  I envision a future where artists and seekers alike will find solace, inspiration, and practical guidance in the pages I’m crafting. So, as I continue to weave the threads of philosophy, practical creative techniques, and faithful truths of God's universe, I hold onto the hope that one day soon, I will be able to share this book in its completion with the world. For now, I am humbled by the journey, grateful for the insights, and excited to see where this path will lead. Stay tuned for more!

 

With Eyes to See

A Mind toThink

& Hands that Do

God's living creation is alive

inside of me and inside of you.


Sincerely Yours,
Mr. Hawk

 

 

Eagle Eye Blog

Did You Know?
By Dr. Laurel Leary, High School Science Teacher
Blog Post for May 2024

Did you know that it rains diamonds on Neptune?  Or that a grasshopper has “ears” on its belly?  What an amazing world God has created!  It is such a joy and a privilege to get to investigate the work of His hands.  How could we not help but fall more in love with our creator, as we see the creativity and care with which He made this world!  God could have made this world boring and bland and predictable.  Instead, our God gave us a place to live that is colorful and diverse and intricately beautiful!

God’s greatest act of love toward us was sending his only Son, that whoever believes in him does not have to be separated from God.  How amazing is it that God doesn’t stop at just redeeming us?  Just like God has blessed us with a colorful and creative world, He gives us a vibrant, unique new life, full of abundant hope and peace.  As a teacher here at Upton Lake, it is my prayer for the students, that they are so rooted and established in love, that they are able “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

 

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A Demonic Boy, Failing Disciples, and a Faithful Savior
By Zach Justice, High School Bible Teacher and Chaplain
Blog Post for April 2024

A demon-possessed boy, a desperate father and a heckling crowd. This sounds like the set-up to a daytime talk show, but in reality, it was an opportunity to learn about prayer and its connection to faith.  Prayer has always been difficult for me, and I am encouraged that I stand in good company in this struggle!  In one famous scene out of Mark 9:14-29, we see the prayerlessness of the disciples in a scenario that seems like prayer should have been a no-brainer. Jesus comes down from the Mount of Transfiguration to His disciples, fighting with some critics over their inability to drive a demon out of a boy; a feat they had performed before. Why the failure?  Jesus reveals the problem was a lack of faith and dependence on God as seen by a lack of prayer.  Jesus could have said, “There are demons that only come out by God’s supernatural power.” And, surely, that is true.  But He says, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  We can be surprised at the disciples’ lack of prayer in the face of an exorcism, but how many times do I find myself not praying in less extreme situations?


Why did the disciples not pray?  What hindered them, and what often hinders us?


1. A pressing and urgent need.  A kid is self-harming; we must act NOW! Nothing moves most of us like the image of a child suffering.  But sometimes the emergency of something can move us before we evaluate the scene.  When going through First Aid training, we are instructed to first stop and check the scene before proceeding to do anything! This kid is in true need, but he has been in need for years!  Prayer before action wouldn’t have made it worse.
2.  A history of experience and success.  Early in Mark 6, these same men had gone out in groups of two and drove out demons all over Israel.  The danger of being experienced is we can wade into situations and trust in our experience rather than the Spirit. 
3. A distracting crowd.  A crowd had gathered, and all eyes were on them.  Most of us know the difference between doing our job under normal conditions and being observed by outsiders.  It’s a different situation to discipline your child at home versus in an aisle in Walmart. 
4. Attack from the doubters and the critics. Being under attack has a way of heightening emotions and lowering thinking. The religious leaders want Christ followers to fail, because they ultimately want Christ to fail.  If we make our prayers of inability known, perhaps it might give our critics more ammunition.  
5.Satanic oppression.  Destruction through any and all means is the goal of the devil as stated in John 10:10. Satan would want nothing more than to make sure we keep our eyes off of Jesus and our shield of faith lowered.  Prayer is an instant way of putting our eyes on Jesus and repositioning our shield.

The disciples failed as we all will this year.  But Jesus didn’t fail this family, this crowd, or His disciples.  He healed this boy and took the time to patiently instruct the disciples (yet again) on how to live by faith.  Now, in almost comical and all too realistic fashion, what immediately follows Jesus’ instruction on faith is followed by an argument about who is the greatest.  Jesus is faithful to continue to teach them through their faithlessness, and He will continue to work with us and our failures, too.  Let’s encourage each other to pray and keep our eyes on Christ!


 

Eagle Eye Blog

Why Pray?
By Renee Smith, High School English Teacher
Blog Post for March 2024


 

When Jesus was on earth, he taught his disciples to pray for everything from forgiveness to their daily bread. But if God knows what we need already, why should we bother to pray?

In the past, I wrote a blog series titled: My Top 5 Reasons to Pray. Today I’m sharing one of those top 5 reasons.

Why should we pray?
Because consistent prayer builds my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Matthew 7 says, “If your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? If you human fathers know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask!”

These verses remind me of how parents deal with requests from children — tailoring their response to the child’s season of life.

With a baby, a parent knows not to expect verbal requests.

A loving parent knows what a baby needs before he or she is even able to ask. When the baby cries out, the parent meets the need.

A toddler just becoming verbal might tap the fridge to request a drink.

When we give a drink to the toddler, we coach him to speak his request. “Okay, Suzy, say, ‘I want a drink, please, mommy . . . Now say, ‘Thank you, mommy.’”

Why do parents do that if they know what the child wants? Because parents are building a relationship with that child. They need to remind their child that the parents provided all the child needed before he or she was even aware enough to ask.

As the child grows older and becomes more independent, parents use their earnings to purchase groceries and stock the fridge. However, they want the child to take responsibility and make his own lunch.

But they also want their child to acknowledge that this is possible only because of the resources the parent provides. The child still has the parent to thank for all his bountiful blessings.

So God is with us. He is the loving parent who knows exactly what we need in each season of our lives.

There are the times when He acts before we ask.

There are the times when He expects us to grow up — to put on our big-boy pants or big-girl pants — and take responsibility for accessing God’s abundant provisions on our own.

And then there are those precious times when we are laid low, and He responds to our weakest cry.

No matter what, our response needs to be humble thanks to the Father of lights, who is the source of every good and perfect gift in our lives.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17


 

Eagle Eye Blog

Seeing God through Mathematics
By Krista Greer, High School Math Teacher
Blog post for February 2024

 

Math shows the characteristics of God in ways that no other subject matter can. For example, God’s infiniteness. Most people have an understanding of being infinitely large; make a large number, add a zero, and it’s even bigger. And you can keep adding zeros. However, most people don’t think about the fact that between any two numbers are the same infinite number of numbers. For example, between 0.1 and 0.2, between 0.001 and 0.002, etc… …mind blown, infinite in every direction! The fingerprint of God!

There are mathematical sequences in nature all around us. One of the most famous is the Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13, 21… Can you find the pattern? Look at the following spiral. Most spirals in nature follow this same sequence. God is the creator and his designs are everywhere: sunflowers, pine cones, broccoli, and the human body to name a few. This sequence is also called the golden ratio.

We can also discuss irrational numbers, numbers that never end and never repeat, like pi, 3.14159…, used with circles and e 2.71828…, also found in nature. God has no beginning or end.

We could also look at imaginary numbers, the square root of -1, which seems impossible but exists in physics and is used in fractals. (Fractals are used to make digital images realistic.) God exists in a way that seems impossible to understand, but math gives us a glimpse.
 

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Starting Off on the Right Foot!
By Guest Author: Christine Hughes, 5/6th grade teacher                                                                        

Back to school can be daunting and overwhelming for some students and parents, but
there is no need to be caught in that web. My pigeon pair are all grown up and established in their careers, but I can flash back to those early elementary years when I did feel the weight that September brought, in addition to the many hats I was trying to juggle! I can sit back now, with a smile on my face, and reminisce on what I did, and what I would change if I could go back in time!


Create a peaceful environment at home where your children feel safe, loved, and cared
for. Home should be a haven which can be a springboard for kids to do well in school. I believe that obeying the command given in Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good first step in establishing the tone for the school year, by allowing the Lord to direct our paths by trusting Him explicitly. Make time for family devotions and prayer regularly with the children, to strengthen familial ties and foster unity. Encourage your children to make time for God every day. A prayer list generated by the kids is a good way to see answered prayer and growth in their lives.


Physical needs should also be a priority for a successful school year. 1 Timothy 4:8 says
that “physical training is of some value.” Adequate sleep (10-11 hours), a healthy diet, and
physical exercise are integral parts of keeping stress at bay and functioning well in school. Look for a healthy balance between curricular and extra-curricular activities in order to avoid burnout. Planning ahead and organizing can make for easy mornings, and smooth transitions.

 Finally, motivate your child to stay flexible and face difficulties with faith and courage. When they fall, encourage them to get up, try again, and constructively solve their problems. They are not alone. God’s promises are trustworthy. (Isaiah 41:10) I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. There is no reason to fear; you are not alone. God has been there for every tear and every
sorrow (Psalm 56:8) and He will strengthen your heart and help you back to your feet, no matter where He finds you today.
 

 

What Kind of Swimmer Are You?

July 2, 2023  
By Guest author: Renee Smith,  Middle/High School English teacher

Summer is the time for swimming! What kind of swimmer are you? Do you enter the water incrementally? First, you test the water temp with your toes, then bit by bit enter the pool, all the while wondering if you should turn back? Or do you jump right in, regardless of the consequences?

Pool time often reminds me of a quote by missionary Lilias Trotter—but before I share it, let me introduce you to this exceptional woman.

Lilias Trotter (1853-1928) was born in England and raised in wealth and privilege. She was a self-taught artist, whose talent quickly came to the attention of the art world. (One famous critic, John Ruskin, called her “England’s greatest living artist.”) Along with art, Lilias felt drawn to the things of God. In her early twenties, she and her mother experienced the
teaching of American preacher, Dwight L. Moody, when they volunteered at his revival meetings.

Although many encouraged her to pursue an artist’s life, Lilias believed she could not embrace “painting and continue still to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.’” She found local mission work to do through the YWCA and other such organizations and eventually felt a call to foreign missions.

On her 34th birthday, Lilias applied to the North African Mission but was rejected because a heart condition kept her from passing the physical exam. Because she could support herself, Lilias and two other financially independent women (unusual for that time period) made preparations to go to the mission field on their own and work alongside the established mission organizations.

Upon arriving in Algiers, Lilias wrote, "Three of us stood there, looking at our battle-field, none of us fit to pass a doctor [physical] for any [missionary] society, not knowing a soul in the place, or a sentence of Arabic or a clue for beginning work on untouched ground; we only knew we had to come. Truly if God needed weakness, He had it!"

Lilias and her friends spent the next forty years sharing the Gospel with Islamic women and children, seeing many converts follow Christ in spite of banishment, punishment, and even death. The three women founded a mission, which eventually grew to encompass thirty workers, and Lilias wrote several books.

During her entire time of service, Lilias’s health was so poor that she divided each year between months working in Algiers and months recuperating in England. Of her life, she wrote, “I am seeing more and more that we begin to learn what it is to walk by faith when we learn to spread out all that is against us: all our physical weakness, loss of mental power, spiritual inability—all that is against us inwardly and outwardly—as sails to the wind and expect them to be vehicles for the power of Christ to rest upon us.

By now, you’re wondering how Lilias Trotter’s bio leads back to swimming. Here’s the relevant quote from her journal:

“‘I am come into deep waters’ took on a new meaning this morning. It started with perplexing matters concerning the future. Then it dawned
that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim, but in deep waters, it is one or the other . . .

Swimming is the intense, most strenuous form of motion—all of you is involved in it—and every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up.”

In other words, swimming engages nearly every muscle group in our bodies, yet the entire endeavor would be impossible were it not for the water holding us up.

What a great metaphor for living the Christian life!

We must put our “faith” muscles to work—studying and memorizing Scripture, sharing the Gospel, serving others, etcetera. Yet we accomplish nothing for eternity unless empowered by the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

So I ask again, what kind of swimmer are you? Do you dangle your feet in the water or stick to the shallow end of the pool? Or are you ready to jump right into the deep end for the adventure of a lifetime?

***To learn more about Lilias Trotter, I encourage you to check out her biography, read one of her books, or watch the 2015 documentary written by Laura Waters Hinson and featuring Michelle Dockery and John Rhys-Davies.

A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness. Amazon

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/faithful-women-and-their-extraordinary-god

A Blossom in the Desert: Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of Lilias Trotter by Lilias Trotter & Miriam Huffman Rockness. Amazon 

Parables of the Cross by Lilias Trotter. Amazon 

Many Beautiful Things. Documentary available on YouTube & Amazon 

 

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We are made for relationships

February 15, 2023
By Guest author: Christine Hughes

Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him. Male and female, he created them.” 

This verse is the summit of God’s creative work, when he fashioned Adam and Eve, made exclusively in  his image, and He pronounced it as very good!  You and I are made in God’s image! This bold claim shook the ancient world and is a revolutionary and powerful idea even today. 

After God had created the fish, birds, and animals, He saw it was good, but wasn’t quite finished. He  wanted to create something more wonderful and unique to be the finale to his creation. So, he created  human beings, a unique piece of creation designed to be set apart from the rest of the animal world.  Mankind was given the greatest privilege of all, to be a special expression of God’s own divine nature.  This was God’s blessing on Adam and Eve, to rule over the earth on behalf of God who is our ultimate  ruler and King. (Psalm 8:4-8) 

God did not create to complete something lacking in Him, but he did so out of the fullness and overflow  of His love. God is His own community (One God-3 Persons) self-existent and self-sufficient, a Triune  God who from all eternity is a being in fellowship. He created us humankind as “male and female” further  indicating that we are made for relationships. We mirror God as being in fellowship, meaning that God  made us different so that we could have person-to-person relationships with each other. 

We were created for love relationships, for the vertical love of God and the horizontal love with our  fellow humans! The first order of priority is vertical, our relationship with the One who made us for  himself. The second is our investment in horizontal relationships with those around us. So here is  something to seriously think about…. If everything in life seems to be going well, but our primary  relationships (vertical & horizontal) are chaotic then what does the rest matter? To be made in God’s  image is to put my time and energy into loving God and others. 
If being created in God’s image means we were made for relationships, how does this impact our  priorities or how we measure success in life? 
 

Fostering Family Devotions

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"One perk of being a small school is that we are not only a school community but a family. This family has never failed to encourage each other in bad times, laugh with each other in the good times, and push each other to become better... Yes, this school has brought me great memories, amazing friends, academic knowledge, life lessons, and much much more, but the most important thing is how it aided me in making my faith my own."
~ Jennifer Puhalski, Salutatorian, ULCS '20