Friday, January 8, 2016

fresh & new hope

Last year was the first year that I had heard about picking a "word of the year."   Lately I have heard of several people taking on a word of the year instead of a New Year's Resolution.  "Go" was an obvious choice, last year  after reading Follow Me by David Platt.  However, this year, I didn't have a clue what it should be or even if I should tackle the idea again.  Life's busy enough without adding something else. But then I thought, life's busy and I need something to remind me of what's important. 
I began reading Friends of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury just after Christmas.  Without going into a whole book review about it; I really liked it.  There were many things about the stories that I hadn't known about. Several times I went to my Bible to check the validity of the details in the story.  The author was spot on.  I realized that I needed to be more deeply studying the Word.  Otherwise, I might be missing even more details.
The last story was of the Disciple John and how arrogant he was about his friendship with Jesus. His story spoke of many occasions including when Jesus washed the disciples feet in the upper room.  The next day I was reading 1Peter and it mentioned water again.  This time it related the flood to the cleansing of baptism.
Fresh.  New.  Isn't that what we all think of at the beginning of the year.  Technically, life just continues the same with the flip of the calendar, but we hope for something new.  We have that chance at something new each and every day.  He tells us this in His Word that His mercy is new every day (Lamentations 3:23). This truth is something I need to keep at the forefront of my attitude each day.  Today is new.  I can choose to think and act like the world is a desperate place and that it's hard to survive as a Christian woman/mom or I can choose to know that I am a Christian woman/mom who lives in a desperate world that needs Christ.
In the middle of writing this entry I stopped several times to reflect and come back to my writing.  During a quick trip to the store I got goosebumps when I heard the Proverbs 31 radio spot for the day.  I can't remember if it was Lysa Terkeurst or Renee Swope, either way it was exactly what I was just feeling in the writing before this.  She even quoted this verse! This is where you see God whacking me with a nice pine 2 by 4 
So, how can I argue with a word like "NEW?"  I can't. Obviously.  It's Spirit led.  Those moments that you wonder if it's coincidence or God.  It's God.  My feeling is that there are no coincidences in life, there are moments where you glimpse God.  It makes me all tingly just thinking about it.
I haven't, yet, done a page in my journaling Bible or art journal to reflect this word, but I will be sure to share as soon as I do.  Most of my endeavors end up on my Instagram, which is where I saw a post from Natalie Elphinstone, of the Illustrated Faith team.  She had done a circular pattern that I really loved, but it looked too involved and tedious.  So I just put it away as an impossibility.  That was until I was working on painting letters with my 4 year old.  Scento paint dabbers are circular and bright and perfectly wonderful smelling!  Eureka!  Circles in my Bible here I come!

My preschooler's collection only included red, blue, green, and orange and I wanted to add a little more than four colors.  Enter acrylics. 
I drew circles on lines that I measured and penciled in starting from the center of the page, moving to the outer edge.  The I used the Scento paint markers to color in the circles in the areas that worked best.  Then I added the yellow and purple colors in acrylic paint with a stiff brush similar to a stencil brush.  A gentle touch was needed because of the stiff stencil brush, the page came close to ripping in a few spots.
A tag was added with the phrase, "When you are in the storm...remember His promises."  The covenant and ensuing rainbow from God to Noah served as a reminder that God would not destroy us but give us a second chance.  That second chance was Christ.  We have 365(366 this year) chances to reflect Christ each day this year.  The world needs it.  I need it.  What word are you reflecting this year.  Share what you are focusing on this year in the comments below.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

soaring through Christmas

The holiday season is chaotic. Cookie swaps, MOPS Christmas, Christmas tea, school programs (times 4), decorating the home, decorating the church.  Your calendar probably looks very similar. 
With all the busyness, we can miss the real joy.  Joy that comes in the fellowship, the food, the entertainment.  The first day of my Advent study suggested that I rest, really!?  That imperfection is not even noticeable!?  That's crazy talk!  Or is it?
The month of December also bring with it some bittersweet memories for me.  My brother would be turning 39 on December 2nd, but he took his life 16 years ago.  The thought of him, my mother-in-law, and grandparents missing out on the fun of our young children enjoying life makes our hearts ache a little.  Christmas has been in a transition mode for several years now.  The matriarch of the family is gone.  My parents moved during the last two winters.  Many of the "kids" in the family are now getting married and changing their traditions.  It leaves me wondering what traditions do I really need to cling to and why. 
Make Room for Advent study from Naptime Diaries and handmade art journal
The last two years I have taken the time to still myself and read through the Gospels during Advent.  This year I purchased an Advent study from Naptime Diaries and am following along with the Illustrated Faith community for #illustratedadvent.  Taking time to reflect on His Word and create something for myself helps me to put everything into perspective.
I am blessed.  Blessed with the hope that one day I may be able to introduce my brother and mother-in-law to the children they didn't know in this life.  Blessed to have a Savior that is also my King.  Blessed to have the hope of a better tomorrow because He carries me through.
Before the craziness of the season took over I got the opportunity to create a page in my Bible based on that hope.  The song "Soar" by Meredith Andrews is amazing!  I got to see her perform a few years ago with James McDonald and the  "Walk In The Word" tour.   As she was about to perform "Can Anybody Hear Me," she talked about the silence she felt during a time in her life where she was distant from God.  What she said really related to the famine I was going through then, as well.  Feeling like God wasn't listening and was nowhere to be found.  But He was.  He was right there waiting for me to press into Him a little closer and to give Him the troubles I was going through.  I was an instant fan. 
So when her newest single, "Soar," came across the radio I was listening intently.  "I know in everything You're with me.  I know You're working as I wait.  Lift me up on wings like eagles to soar."  She gets me.  We must be soul sisters.  I had to get it out in paint!
Journaling Bible of Rachel Higgins; Isaiah 40:31, Soar
The passage in Isaiah 40:31 says it the same, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will run and not grow faint."  If we choose to put our hope in Christ then we can rise above all the small stuff that can weigh us down. 
This time of year is notorious for unnecessary stress.  We try to do it all and to a memory making Norman Rockwell standard.  I am deciding to choose hope and soar above all the chaos.  I will still make cookies and attend endless concerts, but I will choose to be fully present rather than just barely there. Soaring through the fun and festivities!
Devotional card from Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" is a reminder to enjoy imperfection.
Side note: After pondering all of this God sent the message home loud and clear through this devotional today.  Amongst the froot loops and backpacks He speaks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

fear is foolish

Way back in the old days, when there weren't any "Journaling Bibles" there were these things called composition books!  I began expressing my faith through art (besides coloring pages) in an altered composition book.  There was a whole learning period and then the second installment of my faith journals was created (below).   "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs" was a little more organized and planned than the first faith journal.

After lots of experimenting and mistakes I was able to produce something I was proud of.  The process also helped to prepare me for art journaling directly in my Bible.  I found that slathering gesso, scraping paint with a gift card, decoupaging magazine clippings, and attaching anything else from the trash bin into my journal has been very freeing.  Freeing in the respect that I don't worry about what goes in and on my Bible pages.  Yes, I know it's a sacred book, but I also know that art journaling in my Bible has helped me to grow.  Grow in my relationship with Christ.  Grow in my relationship with my family.  And most importantly, grow in my willingness to reach others. 

Everyone has an opinion about how the Bible should be treated and used.  My opinion is somewhat relaxed in this area.  As long as someone is not destroying a Holy Bible in the name of hate or malice, shouldn't it be okay to color or draw in one?  With that said, I am sure that there are some misinterpretations that will go wild with this.  What's new?!

My point is...if you are feeling confined by the printing or too apprehensive to slather a big glob of paint into your Journaling Bible; then try a journal.  If nothing else, it's a place to experiment with mediums (paint, pencils, markers, etc.) or to make notes and draw your ideas while reading your Bible. 

Art is not a specific definition of any kind of expression.  Does that make sense?  It does to me, but maybe I should put it this way; making art is not an all-size-fits-one way of creating.  It's you, showing the world how you feel about something important, with colors and shapes and textures and whatever is visible or tangible!  Musicians, dancers, painters, chefs, performers; these are all referred to as artists, right?  Anyone who creates is an artist.  

God created us in His image.  CREATED!  Did you see that?  He CREATED us in HIS IMAGE.  So that might just mean that we are creative.  This came as an eye-opener to me when I first read it somewhere.  It might have been from Erwin McManus in Artisal Soul.  He put it this way, "We all need to create, to be a part of a process that brings to the world something beautiful, good, and true, in order to allow our souls to come to life."  My friend Brooke, also, told me about a verse in Exodus that affirms this notion; "I have filled him with the Spirit of all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs..."

Don't worry or fear.  Create with a love for your Heavenly Father in mind.  Enjoy the process and be free.  I am excited to see what you are scribbling, splattering, or pasting in your Bible and journals.  Post some pictures on Instagram or Facebook or comment below.  Let's grow together and spread some love and paint!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

salt & light

There are times when I wonder if there is any good left in the world.  In recent weeks and months it seems like the world is an ugly and hateful place.  There are so many people hurting other people that it makes me wonder if my Christian walk is showing bright enough to help lighten up the darkness in this world. 
This past week our neighborhood and the surrounding subdivisions have been the target of burglaries.  Now, I know, there are a lot worse things going on in this world than a few items being stolen, but it's the bigger picture that upsets me.  The burglaries were allegedly committed by some teens from the area that were on fall break with nothing better to do.  This bothered me because these boys probably go to school with my daughter and they are starting their lives out on a very bad path. 
We moved here just 2 years ago because we no longer felt safe in our little house a mile up the road.  We, also, were outgrowing the 1200 square feet with 4 kids who aren't getting any smaller.  Even though this house was only a little over a mile away, it is in a smaller and more stable neighborhood. 
It never felt more like a true 50's style sitcom neighborhood with neighbors on the porches and kids riding bikes than here.  However, I quickly reminded myself that nowhere is immune to evil.  People do stupid all the time. 
 That's why we are here.  We, as believers, are given an opportunity every day to shine in other people's lives.  Matthew 5:13-16 tells us, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Our neighbors, friends, strangers, coworkers, etc. need to see some good in us.  Enough good that it makes us taste different and shine.  We should emanate love.  I heard Bob Goff speak recently and he put it this way, "People should feel like they met Heaven when they are around you."  
Usually, when I hear the phrase, "salt & light" I think of the song by Jami Smith, Salt & Light.  You gotta watch the video if you are a praise junkie, like me.  This song gives me goose bumps and causes me to sing a little louder when the worship team plays it at church.  There is, also, a new song by Lauren Daigle with the same name.   It is a more peaceful tune, but just as impactful. 
It's when I hear songs like these and read the words He has given us in Scripture, that I feel led to create in my journaling Bible.  I can't always get it exactly like my head sees it, but that doesn't hold me back from trying.  I usually go to a few different sources to get inspiration, like Pinterest or Google images for the visual part.  Sometimes it can be very helpful to read the verse in it's context and research the concordances. usually has all the information I need.  It's an awesome free resource.  Yes, free! 
If the process began without the inspiration of a song then I can find some related songs through a Christian song database like Word to Worship or Worship Together.  There is also an amazing podcast and website by Michelle Nezat that chronicles this exact concept.  She links worship and praise songs with the verses that have inspired them.  I love listening to her podcasts and hearing what her take is on the songs that I have heard on the radio or sung in church.  Side note: she also has beautiful memory verse screen savers!

Once I have spent more time than I should on the internet and in my Bible, then I try to get it all worked out on paper and into my Bible.  For this spread, it was fairly simple. I found a poster that reflected something similar.  I changed it up a little to fit the margins of my Bible and my style.
Typically, I coat the pages with matte Modge Podge and then add the art.  This time I sketched it out in pencil then traced it with markers.  A little pastel chalks were added around the light and salt shaker.  I decided to add a sticker at the top to make a tab. 

That's it.  Plain and simple. 
Shine bright and season your world!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

paint & praise

There have been so many styles of music that have come into my life throughout these last 40+ years.  My parents were quite young when they married, so I kind-of grew up with them.  It didn't hurt that both of my parents were the eldest child in their perspective families.  Needless to say, I was surrounded by mostly teenagers and adults for the first five years of my life.  There were sounds of seventies pop, Black Sabbath, honky tonk, Lawrence Welk, and Mel Torme ruminating through my little head.  I can't remember hearing any hymns until we started church shopping after my brother's birth. 

Journaling Bible zentangles on title page with watercolors @faithfullymappingmyway
title page of my journaling Bible

Organ music and a prestigious choir were part of the church I grew up in.  The sermons were lifeless and dry to me.   Like many young adults, I had to decide, for myself, that this religion thing was really for me.  God really got my attention when I met my husband.  We renewed our relationship with the Lord and began a journey to grow closer to Him.  As part of our adventure to discover God for ourselves we started attending a church with a "modern" worship service.  I had never experienced anything like it before.  At first, I wondered if this was okay to do.  For some reason, it seemed like I was breaking some kind of religious rules or was in the wrong kind of church or something.  Worship and church has never been the same since. 

We attend a different church now, but the music is still rockin' and moving.  However, praising God doesn't have to include music, but I doubt that it would be half as meaningful and Spirit filled.  Music has so many qualities that affect us all.  Psalm 71:23 is only one of so many of the verses in Psalm that tells us, "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; And my soul, which You have redeemed.  It's only natural that we grow closer and feel the presence of God when we are praising Him.  He says that we will spend our eternity praising Him, Rev. 4:8.   Watch Jon Egan, of Desperation Band, discuss the story behind the song "God Be Praised."

It's important to me for the worship songs I enjoy to relate to scripture.   Just as a sermon ought to be tested against His Word; a song that speaks to my soul, enough to make it an act of worship, should be scripturally sound.  Plus, it's fun to see exactly how the artists interpret His Word into music.  If I am lucky, then the song and verse will speak to me in another way... through my art journaling. 

Did you ever have that assignment in art class where you listened to a classical score with a huge tub of crayons and a big sheet of white paper in front of you?  Me too!  Art can be inspired by music and vice versa.  Why should it be limited to classical music?!  In the weeks and, hopefully, months to come I will highlight a song and verse that have inspired my art.  If this includes my journaling Bible, then all the better, but it is not meant to be too restrictive.  I want to challenge myself to bring art and joy back into my worship.  Music serves as a jumping point for both of these.

I would love to know what songs really inspire you!  Give me a comment below.  More information on scripture, art and songs will come your way very soon.  Be sure to subscribe by e-mail or Bloglovin' (to the right) to get the latest posts!  Blessings!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

catching up on life

My quiet absence of posts has been the result of a deep depression and very busy life.  My kids went back to school in late July, one of which started high school.  My son began playing on the tennis team.  Joy was gone from my day to day life.  Unless you have dealt with the turmoil of feelings that are part of depression, it is hard to understand.  Many people think you can just snap out of it.  Not really.  Without getting into a potentially controversial discussion about the ins and outs of depression I will end the conversation with a heartfelt, sorry I was gone.

Being in God's Word and learning more about Him are always a big contributor to my happiness.  I really enjoy serving others, but sometimes it can deplete me.  This past month I have been teaching the two and three year olds at our church during the service time.  I really miss worship and hearing from our pastor when I am serving.  This doesn't help the gloomy cloud over me when I am feeling low.  The cute little faces that tug at my pant leg and tell me cute stories warm my heart, but it's nothing like being in collective worship with other believers.

MOPS theme for 2015, Isaiah 55:12
Isaiah 55:12 in my Bible
An amazing blessing came through the experience I was given through the MOPS Mom Convention a few weeks ago.  The theme of the MOPS ministry this year is from Isaiah 55:12, "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  Encouraging mothers and women to celebrate lavishly, embrace rest, and notice goodness is a monumental task.  However, the team from the MOPS International office brought in some amazing speakers, authors, and performers that made it a realistic goal for us as women and mothers.

MOPS Conventions Indianapolis 2015
MOMCon 2015
When my MOPS Coordinator asked me to speak a little about what affected me most during that weekend I couldn't narrow it down to just one or two thoughts.  I felt freed to be creative again.  The realization that I need time to create and meditate on God's Word was very liberating.  I can't grow in relationship with Him if I don't spend time with Him. 

Margaret Feinberg spoke during one of the main sessions at this event.  Let me just say, she is a tiny powerhouse of a woman.  Her life and her work are inspiring to say the least.  When I came down from my post-convention high I looked into several books and videos by some of the speakers.  Margaret was one of them.  Enjoying God: Experiencing Intimacy With The Heavenly Father by S.J.
Enjoying God book by S.J. Hill
Hill (with Margaret Feinberg) happened to be checked in at my local library. 

The littlest of my munchkins got loaded in the van and off to the library we went.  This book has been a huge eye opener.  The stories and writing by Hill to describe the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father are like  missing links in my faith.  So many reasons that I didn't have that personal relationship with God are explained. 

Because of this new outlook on the love that my God has for me, I have a renewed spirit.  If I create a spread in my journaling Bible or not, that's okay.  The time I have spent with my God is enough.  He just wants me.  My feeling is that He will lead me to the ways He wants me to commune with Him.  If it's through singing at the top of my lungs, spreading paint with my fingers, or reading Bible stories with kids on my lap, I am growing closer to Him.  

So...if I don't always post about and inspiring passage and journal page that resulted please forgive me.  My relationship with Christ is growing in many different directions and I kinda like it.  My hope is that I can continue to be artsy in my faith, but it's not about what I want.  Remembering that I have four children and a husband to nurture is more important.  Popularity of posts and how accepting everyone is of my art is just fluff.  It's wonderful to be appreciated and valued by all of you, but God's got my heart.  It's Him I need to offer up my art, children, and life to.

Now go do something that worships God and warms your soul at the same time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Open the Bible and point method.

Have you ever challenged God to do that?  "I'm going to open my Bible and the first verse that pops out will tell me how to solve all of life's problems."  Yeah, right. 

Journaling Bible art in Jeremiah 29:11 with stickers, hand lettering and gesso.
Jeremiah 29:11
When there is a problem at work, you go to your supervisor.  When the kids need help dealing with a situation at school they go to Mom or Dad.  Naturally, we look to our Maker for help when we are without answers.   Is there a Bible verse that has spoken to you during a trying situation?  A special passage that moved you when you needed it most. 

During our Sunday Bible class, several believers said that it was hard for them to want to read the Bible on a daily basis.  However, they also admitted that when they were faced with hard circumstances they turned to His Word for help. 

God tells us that we are to come to Him for peace and assistance in times of trials.  David did it over and over.  If you have read any of the Psalms you will know that many of them are requests for help.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and it's very insightful into how we can use the Word.  "Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.  Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts."  The Psalmist is telling me that he has relied on the Lord and studied His word, so he is confident that the Lord will help him.

Journaling Bible in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you."   With a handmade tag and torn map.
So where have you found comfort and guidance?  Have you found words or art that adequately express the emotion you have for that verse?  Be blessed and let His Word speak to you today.