Saturday, January 14, 2023

My Word for 2023: Place


My Word for 2023: Place

For the past few months the word "place" kept popping up. I would jot down whatever thought it was connected to and move on. It didn't seem like a good word for the year, and I couldn't connect it to anything in a significant way. But it kept popping up, so over the week between the holidays I spent some time looking at it, and, honestly, trying to find a different word. I just didn't see how "place" fit.

Until I came across a different definition; one from a different language.

I came across this Spanish word, querencia. It's definition is: A place where one draws inspiration or strength, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self. A safe haven or sanctuary.

That sealed it for me. I have many places where I draw inspiration from. Some are physical places, like my home or a local Metropark, and others are less tangible and are more of an emotional place, such as the places in a good book or movie. I like feeling secure in the places I function in; in my marriage, my church and job, with close friends. I have places that are a place of sanctuary, places of renewal and restoration - places I need to re-connect with this year. I also need to reconnect with a place of rhythm that has been disrupted over the past few years. That's just a start on my intentions for my word this year.

In my last post I wrote that I am art journaling in one journal this year - a visual commonplace book. So, my word of the year/One Little Word art is located in the same book. I decided to participate in Ali Edwards One Little Word class and group this year to try and stay focused on my word throughout the year. Below are my pages exploring my word.

Do you pick a word for the year? Share your word in the comments belows or in the Words Art & Faith Challenge Group.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Sacred Margin And A Commonplace Life

 Sacred Margin And A Commonplace Life

Author Shelly Miller called the time between Christmas and New Year's Day a sacred margin- 
"A sacred stretch of time between what was and what is yet to be."

Sacred margin is the in-between time. The current year is closing and the new year stretches out before us.

For quite a few years our office has closed for the week between these holidays as a way to recharge. Working in a church means the time through Advent leading up to Christmas can be pretty hectic. Add into that equation the fact that our church has adopted two public schools as our community partners, and the busyness level is increased. I always appreciate this slow week between the holidays and I use it to reflect on the past year and make plans for the year ahead. 

This year my sacred margin week has had ups and downs, but overall it has been a good time of resting, getting creative, looking back on the past year, and making plans for my creative life in the year ahead. Last year was not a year of consistent creativity and art making due to so many events that drained my emotional energy. It was a year that held a lot of transitions. As a result of these events and transitions I got off-track with the rhythms that keep me balanced: time in God's Word, reading, writing in my journal, and making art. I intend to reconnect with all of them in 2023 intentionally.

I spent some of my reflection time looking at past art journals and found that the years where I kept an art journal or commonplace book where I kept records of my daily life, were the journals I enjoyed the most. So, I intend to return to the habit of commonplacing in the new year.

I first heard about commonplacing and commonplace books back in 2013. A commonplace book is where one writes down book quotes, musings, ideas, experiences, observations, etc. Many famous people in the past have kept commonplace books, such as Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, John Hancock, Virginia Wolfe, Emerson and Thoureau, and Ronald Reagan.  One article I read even called it "a record of a curious person's readings, obervations, etc". Being a curious person, I was drawn in!

I have always written in journals since I was a teenager and I have always quotes from books and obervations in them. So, when I came across a term that described a habit I already had, it was exciting. When I then combined this habit with art journaling I found a practice that appealed to my soul - filling a journal with art, images, and words from everyday life. A visual commonplace book filled with the marginalia of life. A commonplace life. And that is my intention for the year ahead.

A few year's back I used a Moleskine journal for my visual commonplace book. I loved the Moleskine and the dotted paper but I did not enjoy how the paper buckled when gluing objects onto it. That problem was solved as I explored journals on Amazon. I found a journal with heavier weight dot paper. It has 80 pages of 170gsm paper, so in between the weight of drawing paper and watercolor paper.  It's great! I can glue paper on the page with no bubbles or buckling.

My pages so far:

You also get a sneak peak into my word of the year for 2023: Place. But I'll expand more on that in another post. I'm also joining Junk Journal January (@megjournals on IG) which starts tomorrow. A sneak peak at my first page along with a tracking page is below.

I'm looking forward to re-connecting with the things that put me in my happy 'place' in the new year. The things that bring me joy, peace, rest, and energy.

I hope you have plans for the year ahead that connect you to the things that bring significance and peace to your life.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 15: Word


Word 15: Word


Through the Advent season we have journeyed through the prophets and the story of Christmas in Luke’s gospel, as well as parts of Matthew’s gospel. We have read of the characters who make up this story culminating with our main character, Jesus, who is Messiah and Immanuel. Today, on Christmas day, we wrap up the story in John’s gospel. John does not give his readers the traditional Christmas story that we read in Luke and Matthew, but instead he focuses on another title for Jesus: The Word.

Just as Immanuel describes Jesus as God with us, Word describes his incarnation as well.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:1-4

In these opening verses John tells us so much about who Jesus is:

He is eternal – with God from the beginning.

He is divine – the Word was God.

He is Creator – through him all things were made and in him was life.

In the beginning God spoke Creation into being. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Throughout the Creation story in Genesis we are told that God spoke words and from those words the created things came into existence. God spoke and it was done.

Now God speaks to us through His Son, the Word become flesh.

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3

John continues in his gospel:

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." John 1:14a


The Word became flesh ~ the Incarnation. This is the great mystery, wonder, and truth of Christmas. God took on human form and lived among us, and thus became fully like us. He understands us. The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that the incarnation means that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), because He was tempted in every way He is able to  "help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus was fully human. 

Yet He was also fully divine, fully God. We saw in the beginning of John that "In the beginning was the Word" - Jesus. The Word existed before time. He was with God. He was distinct from God, yet He was fully God. 


In His humanity He does not give up His divinity. Paul tells us in Philippians that Jesus willingly laid it aside and submitted humbly to becoming a man. In this He submitted to the Father's will. 

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:5-11


The Word became flesh and lived among us ~ He was fully human and fully God. He was the fulfillment of the promise of Immanuel ~ God with us! This is the wonder of Christmas!

Thank you for joining me for Advent Words 2022! Please feel free to continue to post art on Instagram or in the Words FaceBook group. 

Merry Christmas!



Friday, December 23, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 14: Immanuel


Word 14: Immanuel


“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14


“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us”.” Matthew 1:22-23


Advent is a season that reminds us that what we long for down deep is God’s presence with us. We wait and we long and we look for it.  From the beginning of Matthew's Gospel throughout the New Testament until we reach its end in Revelation, the Incarnation - God came down to us - is the fulfillment of God's promise of His presence with us.


In fact, the story of the whole Bible is about God wanting to dwell with His people. From the beginning God created a place where He could be present with His people. In Genesis 3:8, it says that God would walk in the Garden of Eden among Adam and Eve. But then sin separated them, and us, from God. From that point on God's presence was found in His holy temple or tabernacle (Exodus 25:8 Deuteronomy 12:4-14). Later in history the Jewish Rabbi's would refer to the temple or tabermacle as the "Shikinah Glory". Shikinah coming from the Hebrew word for dwelling.


Ultimately though, God had a still greater plan to dwell with and be present with His people. He promised One who would be born and called Immanuel - God with us (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew tells us that the One promised is Jesus (Matthew 1:23). John goes even deeper saying that God through Jesus "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). The Greek word John used for dwelling is skenoo which means tabernacle or dwelling.  So, John literally says that God "tabernacled" among us through the incarnation of His Son.


Through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, we have the promise of God's presence with us forever.


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:13, 21-22


Through Jesus Christ God not only dwells with us, but He dwells in us through His Spirit.


“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.”  John 14:16-17


“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20


“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”. Romans 8:9-11


God's people, collectively as the church, and individually, are now the dwelling place of God, His tabernacle!

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:3




Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 13: Messiah


Word 13: Messiah


As the Advent season draws to a close, we now turn our focus for the final words to the main character of the Christmas story: Jesus.

Throughout the story we have seen many of our characters waiting and watching for the promised Messiah. Through the prophets God promised to send a king, one who would be anointed by God to deliver his people. Over time the Hebrew people began to anticipate that this Messiah would be a king who would bring military and political domination that would free them from bondage and rule by foreign nations.

The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word for anointed one ‘mashiach. To anoint someone is to set them apart for special service for God, and through that anointing of the Lord that person receives empowerment for that service. Thus, Isaiah says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on" the Messiah. Here is Isaiah’s description of who the Messiah will be and what he will do: 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn.” 
Isaiah 61:1-2

In Luke chapter 4:14-21, we see Jesus stand in the temple and read this same passage from Isaiah 61, announcing that he is the One of whom these words are spoken.

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21

God anointed Jesus as the Christ, which is Greek for ‘the anointed one’. He is Christ,the Messiah. Jesus, as the Messiah, fulfilled Israel’s anticipation of an anointed One who would deliver them. Jesus would spend his ministry giving the disciples the true understanding of the Messiah’s rule, not a king who would deliver them from foreign rule, but a king who delivers us from our sins.