Friday, September 6, 2019

Q is for Quiet


Q is for Quiet

In our Living Your Word group we are exploring our word of the year with an A-Z inspirational challenge. For Q I chose the word quiet. I enjoy solitude and quiet, whether I'm in my studio room making art or doing Bible study or out walking in nature. Here in the Midwest we have been experiencing fall-like weather, cool nights and mornings with warm days. Without the heat of summer I have been drawn outside and last week I went to one of my favorite parks along the Maumee River. It felt so good to be outside walking with my camera, enjoying the quiet  of God's creation, interrupted only by the sounds of birds.
 






The picture is not very good because the bird was so far away, but I stopped along the trail when I heard a bird I did not recognize. So I spent time searching and listening until it made itself know. Cedar Waxwings!


There is a small lake off the trail. In the distance I could see Egrets and Cormorants sitting high up in the trees.




I stopped for a while and watched this young Downy Woodpecker eating berries and hopping around in this tree.



My Q page has one of my favorite verses. Isaiah 30:15.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."



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


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

P is for Prayer, Philippians and Preaching


This summer I ended up taking some unplanned sabbatical time in a few areas of my life. This blog ended up being one of those areas. It was unintentional, as were the other areas I took a break from, but all of them were good. As summer draws to a close and school starts, I find I have a good energy.


This year has been a year of ups and downs creatively, and it feels like there is change on the horizon. The problem is that I don't know what it looks like yet. What I do know is I simply need to be patient and trust in God. He will lead me and reveal what is ahead in His perfect timing.

Taking these unintended sabbaticals freed up time for a few things I had not planned on and ended up enjoying. All summer I have met weekly with a friend who wants to learn inductive style Bible study in order to lead women's studies in this manner. It's been quite a while since I have taught Bible study skills and I have been reminded of how much I enjoy teaching these skills to others. That may be a part of the change that is coming. I'm thinking about ways to incorporate some of these Bible study lessons in my blogging.


Our Living Your Word Facebook group is doing an A-Z Inspirational Challenge this year as a way to stay connected with our word for the year. My word for 2019 is sacred. Throughout this year I am exploring what it means to live a sacred life as God calls us to in His Word.

For N I chose nature, as any time spent outside enjoying what God has created always nurtures my soul.


For O I chose obedience and then came across a quote that Kathy Shaull had posted on Instagram. It fit this word perfectly!




For the letter P I selected prayer. There has been a passage in the book of Philippians that I have been memorizing and studying over the past six months. After I made this page for P I realized I had used the same passage on my J page back in early June. But then I have been on a journey with it so it makes sense that it would continually pop up!


 Immersing myself in memorizing and studying this Philippians passage opened up an opportunity for me to share my journey this past Sunday at my church. We are in a series on prayer and my pastor gave me the privilege of preaching through this passage and sharing about the experience of memorizing it and how that has changed my prayer life. If you are interested you can listen to me here.

I have had a few adventures over the summer, but those will wait for another post. My sabbaticals are over and school began this week. This school year is the start of my 14th year leading our church's ministry in adopting a public school. My passion for this ministry has not waned. There have been seasons of burn-out over that time, but my passion for it has increased. Last year we added the high school in our neighborhood to our ministry and this year we increase the number of schools that are served through our school supply pantry to seven. God has taken what a few churches began and He has created a  movement in this city of churches adopting public schools and serving the community with His love. We ended last school year with 33 of our 53 public schools having church partners. I am so blessed to be a part of it!

So, as I end my sabbatical from blogging and look ahead at how it may change in the coming months, I welcome feedback in the comment section below from those of you who have followed this blog. Would the addition of Bible study tool/skills posts be a benefit to you? If so, what are some skills you would be interested in reading/learning more about? 


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, July 4, 2019

July Art Journaling


Happy 4th of July ~ Independence Day!

Other than the heat, which I don't like, I love July. This is my slow-down month of the year. The church I work at intentionally leaves the calendar very light in July and we, the staff, keep our projects limited as well. And lo and behold, I am already beginning to feel refreshed! 

The hubby and I are taking off tomorrow for a long weekend in Michigan. We are just going to meander. There are 33 Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the state, with 12 of them in a 60 mile radius in the Lansing/Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo area. So we have booked a little Airbnb apartment in a secluded area and we will do some driving tours of the houses, hit some flea markets, shops and parks along the way. We'll visit with some family, and on Sunday
 tour the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids. A leisurely weekend away.

It seems my creative juices have finally been refreshed this past week as well. I am finally feeling like ideas are coming into my mind more frequently and with some energy! Here is what I am working on and playing with in the month of July:

My M word for my word of the year and our Living Your Word A-Z challenge is "Make". I'm not a fan of the term, "find some time to...". If we want time to be creative or read or garden or whatever it is we want to do, we need to make the time. We need to be intentional about carving out time for rest and hobbies and self-care. Yes, there are seasons of life when this is more difficult, but overall it tends to come down to making choices with how we spend out time. And I am intentional about making sure I make time for the things that feed my soul and the things that refresh my heart and mind. So make is my word right now.



I'm participating in Elyssa Nalani's Scripture writing community called Club 119. We are working through Psalm 119, writing out the Scripture passages and adding creative elements. I'm enjoying digging into this familiar Psalm once again. I'm using a Fabriano notebook with grid paper for my journal.




(I ended up getting my s backwards! I decided to leave it be.)

First stanza, vs 1-8


Second stanza, vs 9-16

I'm also participating in a junk journaling challenge on Instagram called Junk Journal July. It has some great prompts for quick pages. You can check out #junkjournaljuly on Instagram.

Day 1 was to be an introduction but I simply did some collage.

Day 2: Make a collage

Day 3: Use a tag

Day 4: Very vintage




It feels great to have my creative energy flowing again and I'm looking forward to playing throughout the month of July. 



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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

L is for Lens


L is for Lens

Ever since I began this journey of selecting a word to guide me through the year, I have resonated with how Ali Edwards says that her word of the year is like a lens that helps her focus. So for my "L" word in our Living Your Word A-Z Inspiration Challenge, I chose the word Lens. 


My word for 2019 is sacred. This year, more than any other, I feel like my word truly is acting as a lens. Much like the lenses on my camera give me a wide or zoomed in perspective, my word sacred is guiding my perspective on life in a number of areas. I started out the year with a desire to study Scripture and other resources on how God views our physical body. And so, I began to make some changes to make my body healthier in order to strive to live a wholly sacred life - body, mind, heart, and soul. I have made some big changes this year - I have eliminated most sugars and processed foods, I have increased my vegetable intake, I am cooking more and healthier, and most recently, I gave up caffeine and diet soda. The weight is coming off slower than I'd like but, overall, making these changes have not been as difficult as I had imagined they would be. I think, in part, that is due to the perspective change of using my word sacred as the lens by which I have focused on these changes. As Valerie said a few months ago, you have to know your why, and then your why helps you determine how you live. 


I really feel like the challenge we have designed is helping me live out my word more fully this year. 



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



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