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



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lent Words 2019 Day 1 ~ Sacred Time

Lent Words Day 1: Wander

I love the verse from the song Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing which speaks of our natural tendency for our hearts to wander from God. Today's Scripture passage, Romans 7:14-25, captures this struggle as well.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be.
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

My word for the year is sacred. I'm using the season of Lent as an opportunity  to re-connect with the practices of Sabbath on Fridays, a day each week to focus on sacred time in a season of sacred time. So I'm practicing Lent Words with reflection and creativity, and joining Shelly Miller on #sabbathforlent.

I had this idea floating around in my head to make church windows out of collage, so I gave it a try today. The method I chose was quite time consuming, so I'm going to play around with it over the net few days of Lent Words.



My "D" page for our Living Your Word group A-Z inspiration challenge. I chose the word "do".  



Participate in Lent Words 2019
  • Download the March words calendar here. The April calendar will be added in a few weeks.
  • Join the Words Challenge Facebook group to share your art, your experiences and join the conversation.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/ref=bookmarks
  • Participate on Instagram with the hashtag #lentwords2019. You'll also find a words list there.
OR

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


Monday, March 4, 2019

Preparing for Lent 2019

This year I am on a journey of examining my relationship with food and my lack of a relationship with exercise. I'm on a journey to getting healthier as I move from my 57th to my 58th year next month. I have also taken on a new challenge/opportunity in my job/ministry, which means I am once again facing the challenges of balance and time and energy management.

All of this feels significant for me as we come into the season of Lent. The season of Lent is also a journey. It takes us on a 40 day journey of examination, reflection, repentance, and preparation for Easter. It is a journey of connecting with Jesus' journey to the cross.

Traditionally people will choose something to fast from during this 40 day period. In remembering the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross for us, we sacrifice by fasting. While our fasting is minuscule compared to His great sacrifice, it does help us remember. It also serves to help us look to God in dependence. On Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday, those who participate in a church service will receive ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross to remind us that there, on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin to redeem us.


"For you are dust and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19




A large part of Lent is about remembrance. Remembrance ushers us into examination and reflection as we remember who we are and what we are called to, as we remember our weaknesses and failings, as we remember God's grace to us through His Son, and His love for us in redeeming us from the bondage of sin. Over the past few years, in the seasons of Advent and Lent, I have engaged in a practice of reflecting on daily words and Scripture passages and then responding to them creatively in an art journal. It aides in my practice of remembrance and reflection, taking the Scripture passages deeper into my mind and heart as I add a creative, tactile experience.

I intend to continue this practice again this year with Lent Words 2019, and I'd like to invite you to join me. Each day during Lent there is a word and a Scripture passage to read and reflect on. You can then respond creatively in whatever manner you choose: art journaling, poetry, photography, calligraphy, collage, etc. You choose! The word prompts are designed to 1.) get us into the Bible each day with words that are significant to this season of repentance and reflection, and 2.) help promote creativity as another way (or spiritual discipline) to draw close to God and participate in the season. 

Click on photo to download a PDF copy

This year Lent begins on March 6 and ends on Easter Sunday, April 21. There are pause days on Sundays in following the traditional Lent calendar that excluded Sundays from fasting. One thing that will change for Lent Words 2019 is that I will not be doing a daily devotional Bible study post. As I mentioned earlier the new challenge I've taken on at my job is keeping me pretty busy and I am still working through adjusting my schedule. I also have two trips planned during the Lent season. So I will do a devotional Bible study post as I have time. If you are looking for a devotional, may I recommend Shelly Miller's "A Sabbath Journey for Lent". Visit Shelly's blog, www.shellymillerwrite.com, go to the bottom and sign up to subscribe to her blog by email and you will receive her Lent devotion free. I intend to connect deeper with the theme and practice of Sabbath during the Lent journey, which Shelly's devotion is focused on.

How to participate:
  • Download the words calendar above. The April calendar will be added in a few weeks.
  • Join the Words Challenge Facebook group to share your art, your experiences and join the conversation.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/?ref=bookmarks
  • Participate on Instagram with the hashtag #lentwords2019. You'll also find a words list there.
I hope you'll join me for Lent Words 2019, a reflective and creative journey through Lent.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Things I've Learned: February 2019 Issue

For some reason I cannot pin down, I've been on a break from posting on my blog and Instagram. I felt a bit of a need to hibernate from words and posting. So I did. And it's okay. I have still made art though.

My word for 2019 is sacred. I chose that word because there are some areas in my life that need a renewed dedication to being used for God's purposes. As Christ's followers our calling is to live for Him in every way in every area of our life. Our life is then a journey toward living out Christ's life in us. It's a life long process. We don't change instantly and over time the transformation goes deeper and deeper.



Every year for the past four - five years I have had some type of health goal connected with my word of the year - eat better and exercise more make the list each year. But honestly, I haven't progressed far in either of those areas. A number of injuries with our parents this past year have motivated us to make some changes now and get healthy for the future. So I started this year with a different mindset and decided to study how God views our bodies in the Bible. 

Eight weeks into the new year, here are a few things I've learned so far:


  • Changing habits is proving to be less difficult then I thought it would be. I think discovering more deeply how God views our bodies and health is changing how I view my relationship with food. Prayer has helped a lot as well. 

  • Lots of little changes made consistently add up to big change. Last month I took The Little Way challenge, an online health challenge based on faith by Revelation Wellness. It gave me a good foundation for making little changes in how I eat and move. A big mindset shift was looking at food as substance or shadow foods. Shadow foods don't contribute anything nutritionally to your body and are empty calories.

  • Cooking has always been a necessary chore for me...like doing laundry. It just has to be done! But, as we have made theses health changes I have enjoyed finding recipes to make our favorite foods healthier. I'm actually enjoying cooking!

  • Last month I wrote about how I have discovered that making journals is a big part of sparking creativity for me (see this post). The problem is, I don't often fill them. So January's monthly journal is half full. I have been dedicated to rectifying that in February.




  • I cannot paint objects, but I did find I can make them with scissors and painted paper! I have been studying the pages of a book called Cut Paper Pictures by Clover Robin. I follower her on Instagram and love what she does with cut paper collage. So I am practicing with guidance from her book.

  • I still love the thrill of the hunt. I visited some book sales and estate sales in January and February. I was leafing through the pages of the recent Flea Market Home & Living magazine and ran across this great display of bird art. Turns out the art is pages from a book I had recently found and listed in my Etsy shop. I love finding creative ways people reuse, recycle and repurpose items!

That's it for my discoveries so far this year. I'll end with the most recent pages from my word of the year journal. In our Living Your Word 2019 group we are discovering words from A-Z that inspire us to live out our word of the year.






What have you learned lately? Feel free to share in the comments below. :)





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, January 22, 2019

January Junk Journal

Last year our faithart Facebook group decided to use one journal for everything for the whole year. I did it, with the exception of my Colossians Words and Advent Words challenges. Can I tell you how hard it was for me to just use one journal! So it seems that even art is about self-discovery. I learned through that challenge that part of what I really enjoy about art journaling is making the journals themselves. I love the creativity of making a journal or book. I like trying new ways to bind them. It actually inspires more creativity for me.

So, this year, I have a different approach. I've been following some people on Instagram who make junk journals and it really appeals to me. Junk journals combine using vintage papers and ephemera with the concept of a commonplace book. (For a definition of a commonplace book read this post or this post.) The appeal of junk journals combined with my enjoyment in making journals is going to be lived out this year with a monthly junk journal. This way I will get to experiment with making a variety of journals and sizes. Last week I shared about the January junk journal I made and how it served to break me out of the creative slump I was in.


Valerie Sjodin shared a post recently about making calendar pages in her art journal. I have watched over the years how she decorates her calendar page, but it just didn't seem my style. That is, until I started thinking about commonplace books and the purpose of writing down quotes and things you want to remember. So I made a calendar page in the front of my junk journal and have been adding things from books I'm reading, from podcasts, from my calendar, or just a Bible verse that was significant that day. 




Then I'm filling the pages with prompts from different groups or challenges, such as Life Documented and Junk Journal January. It seems that another bit of self-discovery is my need for variety when making art....a bit of a contrast to my daily routine driven personality!




What have you learned about yourself recently through art journaling or some other creative habit? Feel free to share in the comment section below.


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