Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This and That and...Love

Thank you Julie Fei-Fan Balzer for selecting one of my art journal pages from the Art Journal Every Day Flickr pool and posting it on your blog on Friday.

It was such a thrill to visit her blog, as I do each Friday, and find some of my art!

I've been in kind of an art slump since I went on my personal retreat a few weeks ago. I have the desire, I just don't seem to have any ideas or creativity lately. I don't know if the heat has something to do with it. I HATE heat and humidity. It zaps my energy and about all I want to do is read or watch movies. Well, hopefully the heat and my art slump will pass soon. I did make a page spread the other day in my altered book art journal.

I'm reading a book called "Repenting of Religion: Turning From Judgment to the Love of God" by Gregory Boyd. This book is blowing me away! We are going through the book of 1 John in our worship service on Sundays and as I study John's letter for our Creative Team meetings each week, I find that Gregory Boyd's writing is going right along with our study. Our prayer for our church as we move through 1 John is that we would connect experientially with God's great love for us and His call on us to love others, Boyd calls this love God has for us "unsurpassable".
John says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." 1 John 3:16.  This is the verse we will focus on this coming Sunday as we seek to define Biblical love. This verse begins the heart of John's message about love (3:16-5:2) and our plan is to slow down in the weeks ahead and take this message in.

From Gregory Boyd:
"Everything we are in Christ, and thus everything we are called to be in Christ, is summed up in the word love. The central defining truth of the believer is that in Christ God ascribed unsurpassable worth to us, though we did not deserve it. Hence, the central defining mark of disciples of Christ is that they in turn ascribe unconditional worth to themselves and all others, knowing that Christ died for them as well." (He then quotes 1 John 3:16).

Everything we are and everything we are called to  - in Christ - is summed up in the word LOVE.

I look forward to what God is going to do in me and in our church as we go through the rest of 1 John (and as I go through the rest of Boyd;s book). 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This Week

This past week I went on a personal retreat. I spent a few days in a cottage at Beulah Beach Camp on Lake Erie. I love being near the water but didn't actually spend any time on the beach. I mainly stayed inside and read and journaled, and of course did some art.

I made a small journal out of watercolor paper for the retreat as a way to practice what I am learning from Valerie Sjodin. Learning to shape the edges and embellish and paint them. The start of my journal:

The quote reads, "In the broadest sense of the word, contemplation means creating sacred space to be still, to rest in God, to reflect, to look inward, to attend to the inner life, and simply to be with God in solitude, silence, and stillness. Solitude, silence and stillness are in fact the qualities of contemplative prayer...a lifestyle of contemplation fosters personal and communal transformation." Phileena Heuertz.

My intention for this retreat was to take some time to process the information from the conference I attended last month. What I learned was that I already do a pretty good job of engaging in reflection on my down-day. I had an expectation going into the retreat that my time would be different because I was away from home...and that did happen in the early years when I first started taking retreats. But now I find that the practices I have established for down-time and being intentional with spiritual practices such as journaling and reflection are providing "retreat-like" time on a regular basis. Taking small amounts of time and a longer amount on my Friday down-day is helping me pay attention to my heart. It was a good discovery and will help me continue to stay focused on the spiritual practices that feed my soul, and will help me continue to be diligent about protecting my "white space" on Fridays.

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed making some painted and collaged background pages for my journals. This continues to be such a therapeutic activity for me!

And added a few art journal pages to an altered book art journal

The last page is the prayer we used at the start of each of our small group sessions at the conference. It was a good way to slow down, listen and focus on God.

This one graduated from Kindergarten yesterday. I love being an adopted grandma to these kid!

That was my week. How was yours?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Little Messages

The school year is done! It's always so busy in the last few weeks as we close another year in our ministry to Keyser School ~ we wrap up tutoring, we get ready for events like Bingo Math Night and Field Day. It's fast. It's furious. It's bittersweet as we say goodbye to kids and teachers for the summer, yet are ready for a change in pace...for a little while. I love slowing down in the summer. This summer I plan to take time to dig into the conference material from the When Leaders Lose Heart conference, read some of Terry Wardle's books, do some art journaling and look into the things that lie beneath this pattern of burn-out I regularly experience. I'm starting my summer journey next week with a two day personal retreat.

This quote from Terry Wardle seems to sum up well the journey that needs to take place to position myself for God's work of healing, restoration, and freedom.

"The journey forward to our true self in Christ is a journey backward to the woundings that created our false self."

So, one of my messages to myself this summer will be, "say yest to the journey". 

Our exercise for One Little Word 2013 in May was to listen to the voices around us that are repeated and document these little messages in our journal. For me, this exercise fit in well with books I've been reading and with what I heard at the conference.

In her instructions for this month's exercise Ali Edwards said about the messages we hear from life around us as well as that still small voice within us, "Have you ever noticed how sometimes it whispers and sometimes it shouts?" Well, the messages I've been hearing from friends, from books, from conferences, from God, have all been shouting. And repeating themselves!

My Little Messages:
From the conference/Terry Wardle:
  • Say yes to the journey
  • Focus on one area and build from there. (In other words, I don't have to tackle everything at once. Growth and healing will take place as I focus on one area and move on from there.)
  • Hold fast to His promises (This message actually came to me out of the times of worship and music that started our days. The song "You Never Let Go" reminded me of how faithful God is.)
From books I'm reading:
  • It's not about fixing, it's about letting go. (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership)
  • Live into your true self. (So many books I've read lately have talked about our true and false selves.)
The rest have been a part of my life and are reminders to myself:
  • Be who you are (based on the book of Ephesians and especially Eph. 4:1 to live out of your identity that is found in Christ.)
  • Live with intention
  • Be still. Relax. Breathe. (i.e. Slow down and focus!)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Another Song and a Class

I heard a song about a week before I went to the conference last month and it has been in my head day and night. It just resonates with the season I am in but also gives me encouragement and hope. I made a fold-out page for my art journal in order to fit the whole song on a single page. I'm also using this page for The Embellishing Edges class I'm taking with Valerie Sjodin.

"Worn "page spread side 1
"Worn "page spread side 2
"Worn" Page 1
"Worn" Page 2
"Worn" Page 3
"Worn" Page 4
"Worn" Page 5
"Worn" Page 6
"Worn" Page 7
This is a work in progress as I go through the class. Next steps are filling in some of the areas of wording with paint and adding embellishments along the edges of the pages. It was a blast to make!