Monday, June 17, 2019

Living Your Word: TRUST: Listen

God keeps surprising me in this Living Your Word of the Year Challenge; I think I am headed one direction, and end up in another. I also found so much to challenge me that had time permitted, I would have had at least a half dozen pages. It was so hard to stop, but I finally realized that the project was not just about making pages, but letting the Word and the various quotes/songs/thoughts I found, seep in and change me.

The first page became a meditational activity as I wrote listen over and over again, and I found myself listening for God’s voice in a more purposeful way than I have before. I hope that this is something I can cultivate as a habit. Often when I am actively listening for God to speak I am looking to hear something about a specific situation or request. I have heard people recommend that we spend time just quietly listening for God in our morning devotional time. Whether it’s my ADHD brain or just impatience, that has not worked well for me. But trying to keep an attitude of attentiveness to what God might be saying to me … this resonates far more with me. It also seems less like I’m trying to control God, asking him to speak with me at my programmed time, or at my convenience…

I have become fascinated with Spiritual Direction since my son, who has a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction, sent me a fantastic novel called Sensible Shoes, based on the practices of Spiritual Direction. Anyway, I have been doing a little reading about spiritual direction, finding this quote by Henri Nouwen, which I edited down for my second page.

Music with lyrics having to do with listening or hearing was constantly going through my mind. I learned the song whose lyrics I placed on the third page, while raised in the Catholic church. I had no idea, until I attended a bat mitzvah a couple of years ago as part of a multicultural counseling class I took for my masters degree, that the tune was originally a Torah song, and this was how I heard it at the Bat Mitzvah. The synagogue had graciously given me a host to explain things, and afterwards, he told me an amazing story about one of the sets of scrolls the synagogue owned. It gave me an amazing understanding of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. I wish there were room to include it here!

Design notes:
I expected the first page to be a fairly easy and quick project. Wrong!  It took hours. Part of it was my fault for putting some pieces at angles, making placing far too complicated/time consuming. When I laid the text strips across the page, too many white gaps presented, so I had to redo a good bit of it. Secondly, not all washi tape is, well, washi tape! Washi tape is supposed to be made from rice paper, and when it is, a Sharpie will write nicely on it.  Unfortunately, I had a lot of “bargain” tape that was impossible and had to be removed. Bargain tape is often also not easily removable, and it tore some of the cardstock when I tried removing it.

I was really excited about my background idea.  I generally only use chalk to fill in a stamped image, using a wooden q-tip. For this, I just slathered the chalk on, then used a tissue to spread and blend.  Then I took a large square stamp (a Cover-a-card stamp from Impression Obsession), placed it on my stamping platform, and inked it with versamark ink. This was a subtle but impressive look, as the stamped image made the chalk a bit darker. Then I took small stamp pads and colored sections of the cover-a-cards stamp, then restamped the image. This worked beautifully.  I made several other panels, and then made a disastrous decision: I sprayed them all with a fixative so the chalk would not get over all the other pages when I assembled my journal.  Unfortunately, it completely obliterated all areas of the image that were versamark only. Sigh.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Living Your Word: TRUST: Kindness

When I began this journey of art blogging a word for a year, I had considered “gentleness”, an element of the fruit of the spirit definitely lacking in me.  Years ago I had looked up verses on gentleness (ie: “Let your gentleness be evident to all”; Philippians 4:5) and placed them about the house.  I decided that perhaps instead of repeating the same, I would look at kindness, a related concept, just to change it up a bit. After all, they really are tied together; if one is not gentle, chances are kindness is lacking as well! When I felt the Lord calling me to use trust for my word of the year, I decided to use it for my “K” word.

In my study, I came across this question by a man named Henry Drummond: “Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things?” I had never looked at Jesus’ life in that way; I primarily regarded kindness as a character trait to develop. Despite one of our worship songs having the line “Your kindness leads us to repentance,” I never really thought about it until someone referred to it in a Bible study.  Sure enough; Kari Jobe took her lyrics straight from scripture, in Romans 2:4. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Perhaps because the line appears in a scripture of rebuke, it never stood out to me when reading it in context. I think this must happen often; a beautiful gem of scripture is hidden in plain sight … we are concentrating on the theme of the verse, and therefore miss what is encapsulated within it. As I prepared my journal pages, I found many verses with beautiful phrases about God’s kindness.

In reflecting on trust and kindness, where am I seeing a connection? As I have read and thought about the verses I found on God’s kindness toward me, I have felt a deep shifting in my heart in how I perceive his actions toward me. I have found it hard these last few years to trust that He has good things for me. I appreciate how C.S. Lewis has phrased it: "We're not doubting that God will do the best for us; we're wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." Now I am feeling an almost physical easing of my fears. I am understanding His heart toward me in a way I have not in many years; He does not just do what is right, but what is kind.  To me.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Living Your Word: TRUST: Joy

I have a Pinterest board just for ideas on making journals, and I discovered Valerie Sjodin's website and was completely entranced! In my master's program for counseling, I was able to take a class with a Dr. Todd, who specialized in art therapy, and while the course itself was not about that, we had a weekly assignment that involved keeping an art journal.  I cannot say I enjoyed that part of the class; I am a word person, not an artist. It's not just about lack of talent; I don't enjoy it.  Still, knowing that I would  probably be obligated to do something like this if I took the class with Dr. Todd was actually part of my motivation for choosing her class.  I believe strongly in the value of journaling, and in a culture that far values visual art over the written word, I knew for the sake of future clients in counseling it would be good to have a personal experience with art journaling.  
Back to Valerie's work.  Valerie's incorporation of scripture and Biblical wisdom in her art journaling really excited me, and inspired me, at least at some level, to want to be more creative with my stamping, and maybe try to somehow include it with journaling.  I thought about it off and on for months, but my record when it comes to actually maintaining a journal is fairly non-existent! More importantly, I am a word person, not an artist, nor do I even desire to be artistic. (I’ll be frank … not only was I the last kid in elementary school to manage to color inside the lines, I was once kicked out of an art class for incompetence!)  I am happy creating wallpaper covered journals for others to use, and using stamps and dies for any artistic leanings!
While exploring her site again one evening, I realized she had a facebook group in which members chose a word for a year to art journal with, then added a second word in every two weeks, based on the letters of the alphabet, to interact with that word of the year. A challenge is always helpful to me when I need motivation to create, and perhaps this was it. Because “joy” is such an important theme to me, one would think that I would choose that for my word. That was, in fact, my plan when I first heard of this idea. It occurred to me, however, that I wanted this to really be a something to enhance my walk with God in a very intentional way.  That is, I wanted Him to show me what word that He knew I needed to focus on.   I thought of several possibilities, and I worried how I would “know” I had the right word … I can get really stuck in this concern of being sure.  But the next morning after making this decision,  I woke up and the word “trust” – not a word I had even thought of the night before - came to me as the right word to use.  No doubt whatsoever; I knew the Holy Spirit was in it.  No more excuses!
I trust God 100%, no room for doubt.  At least, not in my head! But many of my attitudes about situations, as well as my prayer life, demonstrate a different level of confidence! As I thought about this surprising word, I realized that some of the joy that I am failing to reach is a direct result of not fully trusting God.   I immediately requested to join the group, and looked up the current letter and word suggestions for this time period. Imagine my reaction when I saw the list of “joy” “journaling” and “journal”! Lol, guess I don’t need to look for confirmation that this is what I am meant to do! I am amazed at His grace!
So, here are my attempts. Since I generally like lots of clean, open space in my cardmaking, and running items into each other, collage type work is very challenging and awkward for me.  It takes the word “stretching” to a whole new level! But I thought I should attempt it.  I will not completely humiliate myself to tell you how long these two pages took me to complete (and I had to abandon the thought of two more using “journaling” as the theme); it’s enough I am actually sharing them for all to see! But hopefully someday someone who is equally art-challenged will be encouraged to give this a try! It has been a great week or so of looking at trust through the lens of joy, and I’m glad I did it!  I will perhaps, however, give myself permission to do more word stuff than art stuff for letter K!  

After spending hours looking up quotes/scriptures; I evidently accidently deleted nearly all of it, and then saved it shortly thereafter, losing it all!!! So, the bottom right was meant to have one of these quotes, but I didn't have the heart to try to find it again, and really did not have any more time left, so I just quickly used a joy die to fill the space!

Monday, May 13, 2019

PTI Challenge: Win it Wednesday

The challenge for this week's Win it Wednesday is to make a favorite tag. Well, I didn't need to think on this one. As I love quilt dies, and make paper quilts by the dozen, I love to turn them into tags. I have been working on making cards and now tags that just need text to be completed, so that I am ready at any time to turn them into cards or tags for whatever event needed. I might turn them into birthday cards, sympathy cards, etc.  With the quilt tags, I enjoy stamping a scripture on the back to just give a fun little encouragement to a friend/relative. So, this tag is blank at the moment. When I went to match cardstock to this quilt, I only held it up to ivory cardstock because I had a stray piece in front of me; I had planned to match one of the colors.  But to my surprise, the "cute" tag became a more "elegant" tag with the ivory.  Really surprising! I'm trying to schedule my crafting time, and I'm a few minutes over, but I did not glue on the flower because it looks a bit shabby now that I have this ivory backing.  I think I'll have to stamp one of PTI's coordinating flowers and affix it instead! :-)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

PTI challenge: Favorite Layout

This week's Win it Wednesday challenge is to make a card with a favorite layout. I don't think I have a favorite layout, but as I like to feature the text, especially, as with this card, when it is scripture. I had a difficult time getting this card to photograph well. The blue is darker and more elegant than you see here. It comes from a metallic line oddly named "curious cosmic." The texture feels smooth and silken, and looks incredibly elegant. When I add pattern with versamark, the elegance increases even more.  The name does seem more fitting when one uses an embossing folder, somehow this alters the appearance to a very metallic look. 

The text is from the A Cheerful Heart set, and the butterfly from the What the Doodle: Butterfly set.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

PTI Challenge: Shaped Card

This week's Win it Wednesday challenge is to make a shaped card. I have a cricut, and so I played with a few premade cards before deciding to create a card myself. I wanted to make a violin card, and this is what I came up with. I designed the card via a violin image on cricut, and the text is from papertrey ink's Bold and Beautiful set.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

PTI Challenge: Favorite Coloring Style

This week's Win it Wednesday challenge is favorite way to color images.  My favorite way to color images is not to! But, I can occasionally step out of my comfort zone and do some coloring. Generally, I choose images that do not need shading effects, in which case markers will be a choice.