Saturday, March 22, 2014

This, That, and A Bit of Calm

Art journaling is an obsession. Art, itself, is an obsession. You begin to see everything through the lens of art and creativity. I have written before about how getting in touch with the creative artist inside me has changed how I see things. Yesterday I was tutoring at the school we adopted. I was out in the hall with a group of second graders so they could read to me. They were reading this story:

I was mesmerized by the illustrations and when the kids were done reading I had to go back to this page and snap a pic on my phone:

This page reminded me so much of an art journaling page. This led to a conversation with the kids about what art journaling is, and then we talked about their hobbies. It was a blast!

For the OLW group our project this month was to design an inspiration board using cut-up magazines and put it on canvas so we can look at it through out the year and be reminded and inspired. (My word for 2014 is "be".) This was my first time putting art/collage on canvas and I really enjoyed it. Something I will pursue more in the future. :)

I stumbled on another version of OLW (here:OLW: Word Up). They provide a word and you are challenged to create something with that word. This month is the word "calm". So, I played with the word in my art journal.

This week the Documented Life Project was to use magazine clippings on a page. So I used the challenge to make this week's collage. 

Week 12 calendar page side 1
I am visiting my sister this weekend. I need a break! I need to relax, have fun and have some sister time! Enjoy your weekend and make some time to be creative. :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

This is NOT Who I Am

One of the restorative qualities of art journaling is to be able to release the things you're dealing with and pour them out on your pages. This same quality is beneficial in a written journal, but when you are able to do this AND add creativity AND play with paint and paper, then I'm really digging it. Even when that stuff is messy.

I started this year determined that it was going to be a better year. Over the past few years a negative mindset has crept into my heart and mind and the last half of 2013 seemed to be the worst. I was spiritually and emotionally exhausted. My attempts to try and change it have been unsuccessful. As a result, burn-out and depression began to be a part of my life. Through all of this one message repeatedly played in my head: "This is not who I am."

It's a real challenge for me determining what I should share in the online world, but then I remember that one of the reasons I am blogging is because, like art journaling, blogging is another form of creative release for me. That doesn't mean I'm going to "air all my dirty laundry", but I do want to be real and life is not always full of sunshine and happiness. I am encouraged by my online art journaling friend, Mary Freeman at A Splendid Adventure. (For example this post: Mary is very open in sharing what is in her heart ~ good, bad or otherwise. Mary's posts always speak to me and encourage me and give me some bravery to do the same.

This year IS turning out to be better. The circumstances in my life that have led me here haven't necessarily changed, but my perspective is changing. And this is solely a work of God. Back in January we did a contemplative prayer exercise with the Lord's Prayer in our staff prayer time. It turned out to be a very significant experience and seems to have been a turning point for me. I've tried so many things to try and change my mindset, exhaustion, and depression over the past few years and have had very little success. But this year, with a dose of determination at the start of the year; with much prayer, and positioning myself before God through spiritual disciplines and practices, I am experiencing change. And it feels great! I have been experiencing times of feeling like myself again and my energy has returned. There will be more on all of this in the future. Of course, this all eventually makes its way into my art journal.

A collage from my Documented Life Journal

I had a request this week to use a photo of one of my art journal pages on a blog post. Thanks Fran! You can see it and read the post here: 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Rhythm of Life

I am very intrigued by rhythms in life. Maybe it's because routine is so important to my well-being on so many levels. When my routine is messed up my whole world seems out of whack. Routine keeps me grounded and focused and keeps a handle on my sanity.

Rhythm: from Greek "rhythmos", any regular recurring motion, symmetry.
Dictionary definitions: 1.) Recurring at regular intervals. 2.) An interval during which a recurring sequence of events occurs. 3.) A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

We have started a study group at church to develop a theology of Sabbath. Sabbath seems very foreign in our modern church culture. It seems very Jewish, something left behind with Old Testament traditions and laws. But in our staff book study (Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton) it became a topic of conversation as we read the author's encouragement to establish spiritual rhythms for the health and growth of our soul.
"Sabbath keeping is the linchpin of a life lived in sync with the rhythms that God himself built into our world, and yet it is the discipline that seems hardest for us to live. Sabbath keeping honors the body's need for rest, the spirit's need for replenishment and the soul's need to delight itself in God for God's own sake. It begins with willingness to acknowledge the limits of our humanness and then to take steps to live more graciously within the order of things." Ruth Haley Barton, pg. 122
Our first occasion of seeing Sabbath in the Bible is in Genesis 2:2-3 where God patterns the Sabbath for us. He  models a life rhythm of work and rest. "By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done." God set this day apart from the other days because on it He rested. The day is holy, set apart, because on it we do what is different than the other days. We cease working.
"Sabbath provides for us now the rhythm for an entire reorientation of our lives around the living God. On Sabbaths we imitate God by stopping our work and resting." Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
So, here in this first occasion in Scripture, before the Law was given, before God commanded us to observe the Sabbath, we see Sabbath as our opportunity and invitation  to imitate our Creator, in whose image we have been created.

This is just the beginning. It will be exciting to see where this study leads us over the next few months and how it impacts our rhythm of life individually and as a church community.

Over the past few years I have developed a rhythm of rest that provides time daily each morning to rest in God's presence ~ to spend time in contemplation, prayer, Bible reading and journaling. I set aside a day each week to rest from work and, as an introvert, to have a "no people day"; a day filled with the things that re-energize my body, soul, and mind. And I set aside Sundays after church to have a day with my husband, a day where we try to keep busyness and events off the calendar and simply rest together. I think that when we have completed this study even the rhythms I do have in place will change some, will become more holy and set aside for the Lord.

Today we had a break in the routine, but one that has become a much needed rest...yet one more snow storm in this never-ending winter. I'm enjoying the unexpected break at home.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Documented Life Project Weeks 8 & 9

I'm just going to post my most recent Doc Life pages and a few others. I have had the flu now for 6 days and cannot regain my energy or my appetite. But life moves on and one must catch up. We are off to the Youth Haven Ranch Friday and Saturday for our annual staff retreat. Another week of single digit temps has made the longing for spring grow much deeper. Hope you are experiencing a change in weather in your part of the world. :)
Collage 3

Collage 4

Week 8 side 1

Week 8 side 2

Week 8

Week 9

Week 9 side 1

Week 9 side 2