Sunday, June 2, 2019

J & K ~ A Joyful Journey to Keep My Word in Focus

A Joyful Journey to Keep My Word in Focus

My word for 2019 is sacred. I am on a journey this year that is a continuation of a journey I have been on for the past 31 years - becoming a sacred vessel to be used by God for His purpose and His glory. Being sacred is about being formed in Christ-likeness with our whole being - heart, mind, soul and body. For years now I have adopted Robert Mulholland's definition of spiritual formation as somewhat of a guideline for my life. His definition is: Spiritual formation is the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others.
  • Process reminds me that life is a journey. Growing in maturity in life and Christ-likeness is a life-long journey. A journey of growing and changing and moving toward wholeness.
  • Being formed in the image of Christ reminds me that my whole being is being transformed by interaction with the Spirit, and I have a responsibility to be ever-growing in practices that enable me to die to my false self and continually grow into the new self that I am in Christ.
  • For the sake of others reminds me that I do not live for myself but for Christ who lived a life of love and sacrifice for the sake of others. 
 Picking my word for this year aligned with these reminders and is helping me "be formed" as I try to live in a manner of sacredness, continually offering my life for God's purpose and glory. 

Our Living Your Word group is using A-Z words to help us focus on living out our word for the year. (You can find info about the group at the end of this post.) Quite by accident, my words for J and K ended up being connected. I was working on a blog post for my J word - joyful - while at the same time I was starting to determine my K word and work on my art journal page. I guess it's not too surprising that my words are connected since this is after-all a journey.

It actually began back in January when I read a quote in a blog post for a health challenge I was participating in.
"Impatience stems from an anxious heart. And anxiety is the adversary of wholeness." ~Alisa Keaton
So as I thought about this quote a passage from Philippians 4 came to mind. I dug into the passage a bit and then decided to memorize it. I've been doing so ever since, which is no small feat for me. I have always struggled with memorizing verses, let alone a passage. But I really wanted this passage to be one that helped me keep my mind focused on prayer and gratitude and the peace of God that results from it.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7 NRSV
Since January I have come back to this passage repeatedly to study and reflect on. Here are some of my study notes and thoughts n this passage.




You can faintly see a map hidden under the gesso on the background of this page. As I turned the page to think about a word for "k", I noticed that the reverse side of the map had the word "anchor" on it. I thought about how an anchor keeps a boat securely in place. God's Word and prayer serve as anchors to keep our faith securely in place. One of the threads that appeared for me in the Philippians 4 passage was that the way to keep anxiety or worry at bay is to keep at prayer. It's so simple, yet I always seem to forget. Prayer and staying in God's Word keep me secure in Him. 

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3
Prayer in Philippians 4 and a mind that is steadfast - stayed on, kept focused on God results in the peace of God - perfect peace - shalom shalom. God's perfect peace is whole, complete, sacred.




Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group: Living Your Word of the Year
Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I facilitate a Facebook group about Living your Word of the Year. In it we share insights through blog posts and connect with other like-hearted and like-minded people who want to live out a word focus throughout the year. We offer participants a bi-weekly A-Z Inspiration to help prompt reflection and creativity. as well as other inspirational ways to connect with your word of the year. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word throughout the year, explore new ideas, record thoughts, prayers, and events, you are invited to join our Facebook group.

Please use #livingyourword2019 on social media.

Check out the other blogs:
Bernice: www.newlycreative.com
Valerie: 
www.valeriesjodin.com/blog

Saturday, May 11, 2019

It's Been A While...

It's been so long since I posted here on my blog. I've missed it, but the time of silence has been good. I have been in a place of drought creatively and it has impacted art journaling as well as my words. My words are such a big part of my creativity. 

This creative slump has been building over much of this year. It's not as if I haven't made art, it's just that I seem to have been on something like auto-pilot. I want to make art and write blog posts and interact on social media, and in my art groups. I have the urge and the desire to be creative, but the spark is just not there. I find myself losing focus and interest soon after I begin to make art or write. I sit and stare blankly at the page. So, I pushed through my Lent Words challenge, making pages for the words, but not really feeling connected to it. And I almost made it...but in mid-April even auto-pilot stopped.

It's frustrating when creativity - art and writing - is the thing that gives you energy, yet it is the very thing that eludes you. I've done the things that usually jumpstart my creativity: I've made a journal, made a bunch of background pages, tried painting papers, even tried cleaning my studio. And now it's May. May is always busy with the end of the school year. And busy is usually the enemy of my creative energy. So as I was writing in my journal the other day I was reminded of a word I explored a number of years ago. Liminal Space. (I wrote about it back in 2013: Here)



I have this habit I do periodically called "looking back in order to move forward". It's one of the benefits I find from writing regularly in journals. I look back over a few months and try to see if there are any patterns. Is there something that keeps popping up that may be an indicator that God wants to use it to form me in a deeper way. I tend to think of the spiritual life, and God's formation of us, like an onion. The layers are peeled back and the growth and the forming goes deeper and deeper as we mature spiritually. So while I may get frustrated at first when it seems like I'm going through something I thought I got through, it helps to remember it may just be a time that this particular issue or life lesson is forming deeper within me, enabling me to grow more in Christ's likeness.



This is where liminla space comes into the picture. From my blog post back in 2013:
"Most of us have not had much training in waiting...Richard Rohr calls this waiting place "liminal space"; liminal comes from the Latin word limina, which means threshhold." (Ruth Haley Barton) Quoting Richard Rohr:
"Liminal space, the place of waiting, is a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the Biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer..."

Late last month I simply decided to embrace the liminal space, knowing that this too shall pass. I won't always be in this place of silence in between the comfortable and the not knowing. Embracing it allows it to become sacred space. It is in the silence that we can best hear God's voice.


And you know, as I have released struggling against the silence over the past few weeks, I'm feeling creative again - the words are returning and finding their way back onto my art pages and this blog.



Due to this creative slump I fell behind on a few letters in our A - Z inspiration challenge in the Living Your Word group. Here are my H and I pages. Bernice, Valerie and I all chose to use the word "how" for our H word and explore how we are doing with our journey with our Word of the Year. My word this year is sacred, and the main focus for me this year is restoring health ~ eating better, losing weight, and moving more ~ seeing my body as sacred as well as my heart, mind and soul. 




Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group: Living Your Word of the Year
Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I facilitate a Facebook group about Living your Word of the Year. In it we share insights through blog posts and connect with other like-hearted and like-minded people who want to live out a word focus throughout the year. We offer participants a bi-weekly A-Z Inspiration to help prompt reflection and creativity. as well as other inspirational ways to connect with your word of the year. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word throughout the year, explore new ideas, record thoughts, prayers, and events, you are invited to join our Facebook group.

Please use #livingyourword2019 on social media.

Check out the other blogs:
Bernice: www.newlycreative.com
Valerie: 
www.valeriesjodin.com/blog

Thursday, March 28, 2019

March into April: Art Journaling

March Art Journaling

The season of Lent began on March 6th, so that has captured most of my art journaling practice. I have mainly posted my art journal pages from Lent Words on Instagram and in the private Words Challenge Facebook group.  There are links to both on this page in the right hand column. Below is just a sampling of my pages for Lent Words. I began the challenge making painted paper collage church windows, and did that practice up until last week, knowing I would need to simplify things with two upcoming trips.







In our Living Your Word of the Year group we are working through the alphabet, connecting words to our word of the year. My word for 2019 is sacred. Most of the words I am selecting have to do with God's call on us to live sacred lives. To live "sacredly" is to live a life of worship. When we worship something or someone, we are devoted to it or to the One we worship; we behold them. God's call to His people is to grow in faith and obedience, living every aspect of our lives in ways that please Him and glorify Him. This year I am journeying through how I worship God through my physical body. Does my eating and moving and health behold and worship God? What does it look like for my body, my life, to be a sacred vessel to be used for His purposes?

For the letter F, I selected the word freedom. The more we live for God and follow His ways, the more freedom we actually experience. Sacred living is living a life of freedom in Christ - "For in Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28.


I am making a journal monthly or bi-monthly this year just to have the opportunity to make journals, which I love to do. Making journals always inspires me. I used one journal for February and March, as I did not fill January's and did not want to have another half full journal.  I also started adding a calendar page for each month that I am using like a commonplace book, adding words or quotes or events that are significant to my days. I did my Lent Words pages in my March journal. My March commonplace page so far:


This week I am on vacation in Chicago. My friend, Bernice, flew into Chicago from the UK and we are spending a few days exploring Chicago, before she continues her U.S. trip. (#vacationwithbernice) I will get home Saturday and turn right around on Monday and head to Indianapolis for a conference for three days. I love to travel and explore, but I am also a home-body, so back-to-back trips will leave me very ready for a quiet weekend at home next week!

Into April...

Lent continues into April for the first 20 days. Here is the calendar of Lent Words for April. If you click on the photo it will take you to a downloadable PDF.


And here's one for Instagram.


The 100 Day Project begins on April 2. The idea is to pick a project and do it for 100 days, create a unique hashtag, and share on Instagram. It's a great way to stretch your creativity. I initially thought I would not do this project again this year, concerned that I would not keep up with it and the other creative things I am a part of. I did not participate last year, but I did enjoy it so much the previous year, and it really did stretch my creativity in making simple collages. So, I'm going to bite the bullet and jump in! I need to keep it simple in order to do this daily.

In 2017 I did 100 days of scrap collage, using scraps from my scrap box.  This year I will make small collages on index cards and use found words from magazines and books. Bernice gifted me with a wonderful vintage cardboard index box from a photographers studio. I'll add pictures in a future post. It is perfect to house this year's project! So here comes #100daysoffoundwords.



I spied my first sighting of crocuses yesterday on a sunny and mild day in Chicago. Now it feels like Spring! I hope you are experiencing Spring wherever you are. :)


Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group: 

Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I facilitate a Facebook group about Living your Word of the Year. In it we share insights through blog posts and connect with other like-hearted and like-minded people who want to live out a word focus throughout the year. We offer participants a bi-weekly A-Z Inspiration to help prompt reflection and creativity. as well as other inspirational ways to connect with your word of the year. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word throughout the year, explore new ideas, record thoughts, prayers, and events, you are invited to join our Facebook group.

Please use #livingyourword2019 on social media.

Check out the other blogs:
Bernice: www.newlycreative.com
Valerie: 
www.valeriesjodin.com/blog




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lent Words ~ Isaiah 58


This past week we had a four day stretch where the daily word for Lent were all taken from chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah.

Wednesday 3/13 Fast
Thursday 3/14 Righteousness
Friday 3/15 Light
Saturday 3/16 Joy

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."  
God desires that His people will follow Him, worship Him and love Him with genuine commitment, devotion, and with action. But all too easily we can allow true acts of devotion and worship to become meaningless rituals, going through the motions without engaging the heart. This is exactly the state of things in Isaiah 58. God speaks to His people through the prophet Isaiah about their hypocrisy in "acting religious", but not truly having hearts that are devoted to His will and His ways. He uses fasting as example of religious ritual without true righteousness.

God says, through Isaiah, in verse 1, "Declare to my people their rebellion and their sins." What were their sins? Just look at the words used to point out their sins: "They seem eager to know my ways as if they were a nation that does what is right...they seem eager for God to come near them...Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please..." Verses 2-3. They acted as if they were people who worshiped God, but their actions in daily living did not follow God's ways. They wanted God to bless them and answer their prayers because they fasted. But God looks at the heart, and the heart is reflected in actions.


So, rather than going through the motions of religious rituals, like fasting, and then treating others unjustly and without compassion, God calls His people to true acts of worship that reflect who He is. A true fast denies self in order to serve others. In verse 6-8, God points out His kind of fasting: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke, to share your food with the hungry, to provide the homeless with shelter, to clothe the naked, and to care for God's family.

"A true fast denies self in order to serve others."

When we live in this manner, in ways that reveal hearts of true righteousness, then we will see the results of God's life in our own lives. Verses 8-9a show the results: Your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing will come quickly, your righteousness will go before you, the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard, you will call and He will answer, and when you cry for help He will say Here am I. Living a life that flows from the heart of God reveals His light in our lives.



God calls us into a covenantal relationship with Him ~ I will be your God and you will be my people. This is seen in the remaining verses of Isaiah 58 in the "if/then" language.
If you: do away with oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry, satisfy the needs of the oppressed, keep the Sabbath and call it a delight, and do not go your own ways.
Then God will: Cause your light to rise in darkness, He will guide you always and satisfy your needs; you will be like a well-watered garden, called Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings, and you will find your joy in the Lord.



God desires a true relationship with His people. He doesn't want us to just go through the motions of righteous activities - He wants our hearts. Reading this passage in Isaiah 58 every once in a while is always a good way for me to do a heart check.
Is there any place in my life where I am not being true? Not being real? Any area where I have shifted to simply acting religious and not engaging my heart? Am I serving with right motives? Am I looking for ways to love and serve others, especially those in need, those living on the margins?



The season of Lent provides us time to reflect, to examine, to repent, and to turn back to God in any area of our life where we have allowed our hearts to stray or disengage. The call of Lent is return.

"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."  Joel 2:12-13






Monday, March 11, 2019

2019 Vision Board


One of my favorite activities each year is to make a vision board for my word of the year. For our "E" words for the Living Your Word 2019 group, Bernice, Valerie and I decided to focus on vision boards. I encourage you to visit their posts about their vision boards. We each used different methods for making ours.

Bernice's vision board post: E for Envision

Last year I made my vision board right in my journal on a fold-out page. It was a fun way to express my vision for my 2018 word flow.



This year, however, I decided to return to the format I've used over the past few years, creating my vision board on a canvas.


My process:

I begin by covering the edges of my canvas with scrap book pages. I do this to give a uniform texture on the edges which will peak out from beneath my photos and words. I fold and wrap the corners as you would with gift wrap.




Next I cover the book pages with gesso so that the texture is subtle and uniform.


My next task is to go through the file of magazine and book pages I've collected over the past few months. I choose words and phrases that catch my attention and seem significant to my word and to the direction I feel God is leading me this year. I cut them all out so I can play around with them until I have narrowed the pile down to those that seem the most significant. I will also use some letter stickers, as I did not find my word, sacred, in any of the magazines I had.


My focus this year is to honor God with my body, mind, and time. Living a life that is sacred places God and His desires and ways at the center of everything. I have tried many times over the past few years to eat healthier and to exercise more, but I never seem to last very long. This year I am studying God's Word about how God views our lives, our health, our minds and bodies. We are called to honor Him with all of it. So far, a little over two months in, I am actually not finding it as hard as I thought to change my eating habits. Building consistent exercise habits is coming along more slowly, but I press on!





I then printed out a photo of my vision board to add to a page in my journal for my E page. I used some of the words and phrases I had left to express some of my vision on the page as well.




Is making a vision board a part of your yearly practice? What types of methods do you use? Feel free to share in the comment section below or in the Living Your Word 2019 Facebook group.


Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group: Living Your Word of the Year

Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I facilitate a Facebook group about Living your Word of the Year. In it we share insights through blog posts and connect with other like-hearted and like-minded people who want to live out a word focus throughout the year. We offer participants a bi-weekly A-Z Inspiration to help prompt reflection and creativity. as well as other inspirational ways to connect with your word of the year. If you would like to connect with others in creative ways about living your word throughout the year, explore new ideas, record thoughts, prayers, and events, you are invited to join our Facebook group.

Please use #livingyourword2019 on social media.

Check out the other blogs:
Bernice: www.newlycreative.com
Valerie: 
www.valeriesjodin.com/blog