Saturday, November 30, 2013


You know how it is; you start to study or read about something and it pops up everywhere. Everything I read now-a-days seems to have a thread about contemplation running through it. But then, I guess that the topics I've been reading about and the authors I've been reading have a bent toward the contemplative ~ solitude and Sabbath-keeping, rhythms of life, prayer, Henri Nouwen, Ruth Haley Barton, practicing being in God's presence, Greg Boyd, Richard Foster, hospitality ~ these all carry similar threads. So they weave together in my mind and in my heart and make their way onto the pages of my art journals.

I lean so much more toward solitude now than when I was younger. Sometimes too much so, and I have to be gently reminded by God that He made me to be in community also. Since learning that the way I have kept my written journals in the past is actually a known practice called "commonplacing", I find I want to put more and more of what I'm reading on the pages of my art journals. (See previous blog post here: Commonplace )

It's been a nice long weekend. I've spent good time in solitude, reading and making art. I've spent time with my husband watching movies. And later today and tomorrow I will enjoy time in community at a birthday party and then an adoption celebration. Overall a very good weekend. And also the perfect calm I need before the storm of crazy busyness over the next three weeks. You can't work in a church and with kids and partner in ministry to a school and not be busy at Christmastime! So, there will be limited art time and limited blog time in the weeks ahead, but I will make bits and pieces of time for solitude and contemplation to keep my heart and soul connected to Him who provides all that we need. :)

From the pages of the books I'm reading:

The books:
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd
Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen

Monday, November 25, 2013


"It is only through failure and through experiment that we learn and grow."
~Isaac Stern

I love to experiment with different art  forms and supplies. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing better than "play time". Over the past week in the bits and pieces of time I've managed to scrape up I have played with spray inks, paint, circle stencils and collage. Sometimes, especially when I am busy, and thus tired and brain-dead, this is all I do ~ play with paint, glue down paper, and make background pages in my journals or painted pages to use in collage.

In addition to playing with paint, ink and paper, I have wanted to learn how to use my camera in manual mode. So, the pictures I am posting of my inky, painty play were done in manual mode at a slow film speed (ISO). 

My observations:
  • I love circles!
  • The ink/paint play created some great background pages.
  • The open circle ~ negative side of the stencil ~ happened when I sprayed the stencil with water and then laid paper over it. I love the effect left by the build up of paint and ink on the stencil.
  • As far as my photography in manual mode goes ~ I need to work on better focus so that the photos are crisper. But overall I'm pleased with my first attempt.
"With experimentation comes surprise and discovery."
Kim Lee Kho

Last but not least, a recent art journal page:

Painty, inky fingers make me happy. :) 

May you find time to experiment and play with whatever it is that stirs your creative juices. I find it is another way of finding rest. Peace to you from me.

Friday, November 22, 2013


My friend Jean sent me a text message last week suggesting that I google "common place books". So I did. I don't know how I've never run across this term before! Here's one definition of the practice of "commonplacing":

"Commonplacing is the act of selecting important phrases, lines, and/or passages from texts and writing them down; the commonplace book is the notebook in which a reader has collected quotations from works she or he has read. Commonplace books can also include comments and notes from the reader."  (From "Commonplaces: An Introduction" by John Hilgart and Van Hillard

Some other definitions:

  • A book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.
  • A notebook in which you enter memorabilia.
  • The recording of words and ideas in a commonplace.

It turns out that I have been "commonplacing" all of my life. As a teenager I used to write down poems and quotes I liked and kept them in a "diary". As an adult, when I started keeping written journals, alongside my thoughts and prayers I have filled my journals with quotes and passages from books, lyrics from songs, quotes from conferences I've attended, and quotes from pastors Sunday messages. In recent years I've carried this practice into art journaling, combining what I've practiced in my written journals with art.

I'm a note-taker. I take notes during the sermon every Sunday. I take notes at conferences, during meetings, even during conversations at times. I take notes while I read books. There is something about writing something down that cements it into my mind and my heart. It is also a habit I developed through the years to help me stayed focused. I suffer from a wandering mind syndrome. The note taking during sermons and conferences keep me from getting distracted by any form of movement or noise that goes on around me. Note taking during meetings or conversations help me stay present and come back to something I want to say without interrupting (most of the time!). Note taking keeps me engaged.

And now that I art journal, taking this practice and adding color and texture and paper and ink and paint thrills me and fills me to no end!

I like the name "commonplace". I have a box full of my written journals from 20+ years. Occasionally I will re-read them. I especially like to do this at the end of the year and look back over the past year and see growth, or lack of growth, or to remind myself of where I have journeyed over the year. When re-reading my journals I often will come across the quotes I've recorded from books and usually will return to that book and read the passages again. I have a habit (good or bad will be determined by each person's opinion) of reading multiple books at the same time. I have books I'm reading that go along with whatever we're studying for our Creative Team meetings at work. I may have a book I'm reading to help me with a particular problem or interest. Our staff team does a weekly book study, so I have that book I'm reading. I usually have a book that I read along with Scripture and prayer each morning that is a part of my time with God. The downside to this habit is that many times I don't finish all the books when I have started them. But my practice of commonplacing helps me return to them when I have re-read a quote or passage.

So, now, thanks to Jean, I have a name for this practice I've done most of my life in one form or another. It makes me happy - the practice and the name. :)

My most recent "commonplace" art journal pages:

All of these quotes happen to be from the book we are reading for our staff book study; Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton. It's a great book and one I highly recommend for anyone who is in ministry vocationally ~ paid or unpaid. I am especially appreciating her chapter on spiritual rhythms and our need to heed God's command on us to rest.

Blogging and sites like Tumbler and Pinterest seem to me to fit into the category of commonplacing in out tech age. My friend Jean uses her Tumbler blog as a commonplace space.

Do you have a commonplace type of practice?

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Altered Book Art Journal

Back in February I altered a book into an art journal. It has the perfect title for an art journal: The Examined Life. I first introduced it in this post:
That Journal is almost full now.

 This weekend I prepped some of the final pages and then went through the book and began journaling on some of the empty pages.

I don't know which is sweeter, the thrill of completing a project or the excitement and anticipation of starting a new one. Which way do you lean?

I've also been busy adding to my Etsy shop and have even had a few sales over the past few weeks! Just click on the link at the top left to visit my shop.

Butterfly themed vintage paper pack
Vintage yearbook paper pack
Foreign language vintage book pages
Vintage advertisements paper pack

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Follow Me

We have a new member on our staff team, Andy joined us in September and is serving as our Pastor of Communication and Social Media. He spoke a few Sundays ago about the cost of following Christ. He said something that has been ringing in my head and in my heart since then:

"Will you still follow when it dawns on you that Jesus did not come to fill the God-shaped hole in your heart, but rather to call you, together with all the saints, to fill the cross-shaped hole in the world." ~Andy Holt 10/27/13

Andy was speaking out of Luke 9:57-62 about the cost of following Christ. In this passage three people approach Christ desiring to follow Him. To the first Jesus shares that there will be hardships. You will have to give up being comfortable. Will you still follow? The second wants to first bury his father, then follow Christ. The third wants to first return to his family and tell them goodbye, then come back and follow Christ. But Jesus let's them know that nothing can come before following Him. Christ must be the first in our lives. He must be our focus. Will you still follow?

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is 
fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62

It is easy for us to get distracted by the thing in life - family, jobs, bills, circumstances, trials ~ all of these things (and others) fight for first place in our lives. Good things, bad things. But Jesus bids us to come, follow Him, put Him first. In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus calls a divided focus "serving two masters" (vs. 24). In Andy's words, "There's no place for distracted disciples in the Kingdom...You cannot be a part-time disciple." 
Andy's talk can be found on our church website here:

As I said, I can't get Andy's quote out of my mind. It is true that there is an emptiness in us that only being in relationship with God can fill. But we have made this all about us, as if this is Jesus mission. Jesus came to reconcile men to God. To be about His Father's work. His mission is our mission.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just a Bit of Art

I don't know how I've let almost a month go by without posting on this blog. I have no grand excuses to justify my absence from blogland. Just everyday life.

For today, I'm just going to post a few pages from my art journal (s).

Art journaling keeps me happy and sane! My altered book art journal is close to being full. More to come in a few days as I get back on track!