"Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas." ~Amy Carmichael

" Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas.”

~ Amy Carmichael

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Colorful Blessings coloring book is here!

IT'S HERE!

Colorful Blessings 

published by Taunton Press


To celebrate, we are having an open studio book launch party for us locals later this month. I think it is important to celebrate with people I love, to thank them for walking through the process, and to connect with those people I haven't connected with because I've been busy working on the book. For me, the face to face interaction is so important. Life is really all about relationships!


Having a book published feels a bit like giving birth and sending your child into the world. There is the joy of holding it in tangible for after all these months of preparation. Then there is the apprehension of sending it out into the world. To me, it's more than a coloring book: the words and images in Colorful Blessings have come from my journals, from my heart, from my deep longings and life experience. I am excited. Along with that, there is also the uncomfortable feeling of being vulnerable. It's a package deal I guess.


May you be blessed with sweet interactions with the people in your life today.
And Happy Coloring!

Valerie

If you purchase and enjoy my coloring book, 
would you write a review on Amazon? 
Thank you!

Products I Use to Color Pages: 

Prismacolor Colored Pencils, Blender Pencil, and Pencil Sharpener. Here are the links shown on my blogsite:

    


Blog Affiliate Disclosure: To make the products I talk about in this blog and videos more accessible and to answer product questions, I've affiliated with Amazon.com. I do not get paid for using any of the products and only share products I use often, and am pleased to recommend them. I get a number of questions regarding the products I use. I thought this would be the win/win opportunity for you and I. If you click on any of the Amazon product links above and purchase the product, I receive a small percentage, like a tip. It does not cost you anything.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bible Journaling my Animal of the Year

In my everyday journal, I had written a list of Scripture references that were relevant to my word and animal of this year. When I looked up Psalm 18:26-36, the passage stood out to me as the Psalm for this year. Not only does it have the metaphor of the deer, it also has the metaphor of the bow which connected with my symbols and word for 2015, aim. There is so much in the passage, it was hard to condense what was important to me at this time. I will be revisiting it throughout the year.


         Psalm 18:26-36 NRSV

"For you deliver a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes you bring down.
It is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
 
By you I can crush a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
 
This God—his way is perfect;
    the promise of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

For who is God except the Lord?

    And who is a rock besides our God?—
 
the God who girded me with strength,
    and made my way safe.
 
He made my feet like the feet of a deer,
    and set me secure on the heights.
 
He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand has supported me;
    your help has made me great.
You gave me a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip."

I researched the passage following the process I wrote about in the last post, recording it in my everyday journal.


I imagined myself in the shoes of the Psalmist and spent time reflecting, listening, and then wrote a prayer of who God is to me in the shape under the deer. 


On the opposite Bible page is Psalm 19, another page full of the awe of God and beautiful metaphor. To set the tone for both passages, I painted the background like the sky that is still readable. I am planning to return to the Psalm 19 passage and more Bible journaling on that page later. 


A day or so later, I approached the Bible art journaling part you see in the photos above. I find the art making is more meaningful to me when I have prayed through and studied the Scripture. It gives me a focus as I work out through my hands what is in my heart and mind. 

Below is a Description of my Art Process and Materials used:

- I brushed a coat of acrylic glazing liquid on the Bible pages and allowed it to dry thoroughly
- Reduced the size of the outline of the deer I had drawn earlier from my photo, and printed it out.
- Then traced the deer onto a piece of deli/sandwich paper in pencil (see note below)
- Put the tracing paper over the page in my Bible for Bible Journaling, I traced over the shape of the deer in pencil, and wrote the text.
- Traced over the pencil lines with size XS and S Pitt pens. 
- Allowed it to dry for about a half hour.
- Erased the lines with a kneaded eraser. 
- Brushed a coat of matte medium over the deli paper drawing and let dry. 
- Used Royal Soft-Grip brushes to paint the fluid acrylics
- The colors of fluid acrylics I used are: Phthalo Turquoise, Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold,  Sap Green, Dioxazine Purple, Napthol Red Light, Iridescent Gold Fine Bright, and Titanium White.
- Cut around the outline of the entire shape with small scissors.
- Painted the background of the Bible page and allowed it to dry thoroughly
- Glued the deer deli paper shape onto the Bible page with a glue stick.
- Painted the negative shapes between the legs to match the background.

NOTE: Sandwich deli wrap paper is not available everywhere. I bought mine, First Street brand at Cash & Carry here in the U.S. The paper is also called Dry Wax paper, but is different than the regular wax paper I buy at the grocery store. I also have used Kabnet wax brand that is available on Amazon or at Costco. It is folded and more waxy on one side so I prefer the First Street brand, although it works if you use the pen on the less waxy side. I have noticed other brands on Amazon, Marcal and Logan, but I haven't tried them.  If you have, it would be great for you to let us know in the comments.  There may be substitutions where you live. Look for translucent paper that can withstand wet media.

LINKS TO ART SUPPLIES USED:

           
Affiliate Disclosure

To make the products I talk about in this blog and videos more accessible and to answer product questions, I've affiliated with Amazon.com. I do not get paid for using any of the products and only share products I use often, and am pleased to recommend them. I get a number of questions regarding the products I use. I thought this would be the win/win opportunity for you and I. If you click on any of the Amazon product links above and purchase the product, I receive a small percentage, like a tip. It does not cost you anything.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How I Explore my Word of the Year

I had someone send me a message this week saying she didn't have a word for the year. The process left her feeling blank, sad. In writing posts like many written at this time of year, I want to say that having a specific word is not the most important thing. I believe with all my heart that God wants a relationship with each one of us and desires to speak, listen, and help us be all we are meant to be. It may or may not be in the form of a specific word for they year.


With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful if I shared the basic ways I explore a word, whether it is my Word of the Year or any word I want to explore, study etc. I've been using this method since before the internet, with these books: a good dictionary, Strong's Concordance, the Biblical Cyclopedic Index (like a concordance) that is in the KJV Bible I got when I was 12 years old, and various Bible translations. The internet has sped up the process immensely. What I love about this process is that it applies to whatever I am studying, seeking, or thinking about. I approach it like a tool that I can choose to use or not. It frees me up to try new things while providing a structure that is workable and consistently provides insight. I record my findings in my journal so I have a record and reference for my exploration.



Here is my process for exploring a word:

  1. I type the word in the internet search box in a new tab on my computer, and put "definition" after the word. Press return of click on the magnifying glass icon.
  2. I peruse through the definitions and write in my journal (and sometimes in a text document) the definitions, sources, and any thoughts i have about the word.
  3. I go to Bible Gateway https://www.biblegateway.com/ and in the "Enter key word, passage or topic" box, I type my word (or passage of Scripture if that is what I am exploring). I check the translation and if I want a different one, I click on the down arrow and then on any translation I prefer. Then I press enter/return or click on the magnifying glass icon.
  4. A list of verses come up that have the word and I look through them. Sometimes I revise my search if it is too big or if nothing comes up. I might switch translations too. 
  5. When I find a Scripture that resonates, I click on it and then click "Add parallel" which is the far right, brownish red icon that looks like a page of the bible. Another translation of the same text will pop up next to the first one. By reading more than one version, I usually get further insight and it helps me personalize the text. 
  6. I write the Scripture passage in my journal.
  7. If I want to go deeper at this point, I open a new tab and go to Blue Letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org/search.cfm and put the Scripture passage in the box at the top near the center which says, "verse or word(s)." Then I click on the version I want by clicking on the down arrow and choosing the version I want. Then I press enter/return on my computer.
  8. The verse will come up and "tools" will appear in a box. I click on "tools" and all the words in that verse will come up with the Strong's Concordance definitions to click on to show the definitions in the original language. 
  9. I write down any new things I learn about the word/s and the context.
  10. I ask God what He has to say to me about it and write anything that comes to mind down. It often takes the form of a prayer.
  11. I write all this down in my calendar journal I use throughout the year, so I can refer to it. From this process, I have other Scripture passages to look up as I feel led throughout the year.
  12. The process usually brings about a visual response, since that is a language I use often. I consider what lines and colors and imagery reflect and represent the word. I search on Pinterest, sometimes Google images to get inspiration. Then I close my computer, turn on inspirational music and bring my word for visual exploration with the Holy Spirit to the drawing board...


written & visual content of this post and blog 
copyright ©Valerie Sjodin 2009-2016

" Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas.

~ Amy Carmichael






Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Word and Shape for 2016 flowing out of 2015

Do you have a word or theme that is recurring, it keeps coming up? A word that won't go away? One that seems highlighted? Sometimes it comes like that, over time...

I've noticed that my word/theme of the year often starts as a seed in September rather than January, and then begins to take root in November. Maybe it is because the school year starts in September and I taught school for ten years and had children that started their new school year every fall. Whatever the reason, now that it is the beginning of our calendar year, my word is taking shape, unfolding and exciting. It began to present itself quietly in the context of 2015 while I was doing a word study and Bible journaling in Psalm 25:12. Then it continued to come up from many places, being highlighted as I heard it.


During the walk on the beach, when I saw the deer I talked about in the last post, I asked God about my word for 2016. The thought came, "Notice the ebb and flow of the surf. It changes more dramatically and quickly when the tide is turning and you need to be aware of where and when the surf is coming in."

That day was beautiful. The sun was emerging after a big storm the night before. There were many people on the beach that day in November (for the Pacific Northwest). When the tide was out, I walked in the shallow surf wearing my rubber boots, enjoying my time alone, praying, taking in the beauty etc. When the tide rushed in, I ran in too so the water wouldn't come above the top of my boots. People were usually there and we greeted each other as we walked. I sensed God speaking to me through this - inviting me to enjoy the ebb time with Him as part of the flow. When the tide comes in, I am to come in with it, encountering people, engaging with them and be encouraging. My word was confirmed: FLOW.


In 2016 I am to flow with the movement of the Holy Spirit - going deeper with God, and engaging with people, trusting Him for the ebb and flow of life and what this year may bring.

"Plan to be surprised." My quote of the year from the movie Dan in Real Life.

I 'm not fond of surprises. I like plans. So learning to "plan to be surprised" will be an interesting process for me. As far as my word for 2015, AIM, I don't feel quite finished with it. Even the kitchen door I put the yearly theme on was updated and revised at least 3 times last year, the last time only a couple of months ago. In asking God about this, I was reminded about my study and Bible journaling in Psalm 25 where it says, ""Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose." "Will show" means to be aimed like an arrow in a bow and like the flow of water. I will once again revise the door, leaving the concentric circles I now see as flowing into and out of the center. The spiral, like flowing wind and circulating water is the shape I will add to the concentric circles of 2015. So now I have a word, an animal, and a shape. Life is good.


In some ways, as in Psalm 25:12, this year means a continuation of the same. In other ways it is different, and I have a year to explore it. With the addition of an animal of the year and the Scripture I am drawn to, intimacy with God will be the key for me to flow with the Holy Spirit in 2016.


In August 2015, I read the Songs of Songs in The Passion Translation. It came alive to me like never before, and I read it through two more times. The book is rich in love and imagery. The deer, gazelle, stag are used often and I highlighted those verses. I looked up the word flow and Song of Songs 4:15 sprang up in the bridegroom's word to the bride:

"Your life flows into mine,
Pure as a garden spring.
A well of living water
Springs up from within you,
Like a mountain brook
Flowing into my heart."

- Song of Songs 4:15 TPT

So now I have an animal, a word, a shape, and a book of the Bible for 2016. Life is good.

Do you have a word for 2016? You can leave your word in the comments box if you would like.

Cheers to you and this new year full of hope!


A Description of my Art Process for either Watercolor or Fluid Acrylics:  
1. For the background, I spray on side with water and brushed some paint on the page. I tipped the page a bit so the water and paint would "flow." Then I close the journal so the watery paint would also print on the other side. Then I let it dry. This step could be done with either watercolors or fluid acrylics. If using fluid acrylics put a coat of either matte medium or acrylic glazing liquid on first and let it dry. For watercolor, paint directly onto the paper.
2. Draw the word flow lightly in pencil and then trace over it with pen. 
3. For the flow of waves, I cut from some painted papers I had painted previously in the colors I wanted to use for my word "flow." The painted papers are tissue and deli paper. The techniques for painting the papers and cutting swirls are taught in my online Art Journaling class: Marbling & More
4. Cut curvy strips and swirls out of the aqua and purply papers and arrange them on the journal pages
5. Glue the strips on with a glue stick if using watercolors. Glue on with matte medium if using acrylics.
6. Look over my definitions of flow I had got from online dictionaries and choose some definitions and synonyms to write between the painted paper strips, first with pencil, then with pen.
7. Erase pencil lines 
8. I used a Royal Soft-Grip round brush to tint with paint around the edges of the strips of paper and the letters of "flow" and along the edges of some of the strips of paper. I used the fluid acrylic Golden Iridescent Bright Gold for the metallic gold when painting with either watercolor or acrylic because I do not have a good gold metallic watercolor paint.

For techniques on fluid acrylic paint application and lettering please check out my Art Journaling workshop page:
http://valeriesjodin.com/online-art-journaling-workshops/

- The journal I used for this post is Stillman & Birn Zeta Mixed Media 7 x 7" Sketchbook. The paper is heavyweight and wonderfully smooth for writing on. The colors of fluid acrylics I used are: Phthalo Turquoise,  Dioxazine Purple, and Iridescent Gold Fine Bright. Links are listed below.

LINKS TO ART SUPPLIES USED:

      

Blog Affiliate Disclosure
To make the products I talk about in this blog and videos more accessible and to answer product questions, I've affiliated with Amazon.com. I do not get paid for using any of the products and only share products I use often, and am pleased to recommend them. I get a number of questions regarding the products I use. I thought this would be the win/win opportunity for you and I. If you click on any of the Amazon product links above and purchase the product, I receive a small percentage, like a tip. It does not cost you anything.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

SURPRISE: An Animal of the Year? Yes

Already my quote of the year has been active: "Plan to be surprised." from the movie Dan in Real Life. This week I am surprised I am sharing with you about my animal of the year instead of my word of the year. I will share the word next week - at least that is my plan :)



Why an animal? Sometimes I miss the obvious, and have just realized that after many unusual encounters with animals over the years, there may be seasons where God speaks to me through a particular animal or aspect of nature. Now I am thinking back over the years. For two years in a row, a particular animal appeared six times. It was unusual, and some of the encounters were very unique and direct answers to prayer. When I researched the symbolism of the animal, it helped me during the time when I was seeking my identity in Christ. Now I am more aware and noting the spiritual significance in the natural world. We are both spiritual and physical beings.


One of the most encouraging things in my life happened after five long months of grieving and darkness. I finally got the courage and faith to start an art project inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's quote, "Faith is the bird that sings while dawn is still dark." I was like a little sparrow trying to sing in the dark, so I asked God to give me some sparrow photo reference for the painting. That Saturday, a family of a mother sparrow and three babies stayed on our patio floor all morning while I took photos through the glass window. To this day it reminds me of God's tender care for us as individuals and that He is involved in even the little things. To God, I matter.

Another time, during a particularly stressful time of stepping out and risking, working on a difficult project that took nearly a year, hummingbirds would regularly visit. It happened only that year. They seemed to be talking to me as they hovered at eye level directly in front of my face. Sometimes the little bird seemed to scold me, sometimes encourage me to keep going, and sometimes to remind me to take a break and have some fun.

So when a deer, doe in particular, appeared twice in unique ways in November and December it caught my attention. Also, during that time I was reading through The Passion Translation of Song of Songs and had highlighted the metaphors of the deer. I wondered if and how the animal related to my word theme for 2016.


After I had finished the drawings for the Colorful Blessings coloring book, my husband and I went to the coast for a couple of days. One morning I took a long walk on the beach, praying, listening, noticing the ebb and flow of the tide, more extreme at that point when the tide is turning. I walked a long way and reached a place where I was alone on the beach, except for a lone doe walking through the shallow water of the surf, much like I was with my rubber boots. It wasn't something I had seen in all my years of walking on the beach. It walked out of the surf onto the sand and stood still for a very long time. We looked at each other before it sprang into action and disappeared into the woods. I asked God what it might mean. I felt Him smile, "You love a mystery." I smiled and knew I would be researching the symbolic meaning of a doe.


The deer symbolizes grace, compassion, gentleness and natural beauty. It is free. The doe has feminine qualities and independence, alertness and energy. The deer uses gentleness to lead and guide through love and understanding. Wisdom and innocence. In the Song of Songs deer and gazelle are symbols of the joys of love.


"As the deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?"

Psalm 42:1 NRSV

As this year begins to unfold, I will be sharing my journey into deeper meaning of my word and with God. What is God giving you to focus on and look forward to in 2016? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

A Brief Description of my Art Process and Materials used:

- I sketched one deer from my photos lightly with pencil directly onto the watercolor paper of my journal page. Then I traced over it with a size S black Faber-Castell Pitt Pen. The other one, I sketched onto deli sandwich paper and then traced over it onto the journal page using graphite paper face down between the drawing and the journal. 
- Then I traced over the transferred line with a size S black Faber-Castell Pitt Pen. I went on to write and draw borders in pencil, designing as I went along. 
- Then I traced over my lines with a Pitt pen. I added doodles and designs with Pitt pens.
- After I was finished I erased the lines with a kneaded eraser. 
- Then I brushed a coat of matte medium over the pages and let dry. 
- I used a Royal Soft-Grip round brushes to paint the fluid acrylics
- The colors of fluid acrylics I used are: Phthalo Turquoise, Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, Paynes Gray, Raw Umber, Sap Green, Dioxazine Purple, Napthol Red Light, and Iridescent Gold Fine Bright. Both Golden and DecoArt Media Fluid acrylics work well.

LINKS TO ART SUPPLIES USED:

     
Blog Affiliate Disclosure
To make the products I talk about in this blog and videos more accessible and to answer product questions, I've affiliated with Amazon.com. I do not get paid for using any of the products and only share products I use often, and am pleased to recommend them. I get a number of questions regarding the products I use. I thought this would be the win/win opportunity for you and I. If you click on any of the Amazon product links above and purchase the product, I receive a small percentage, like a tip. It does not cost you anything.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Word of the Year and so much more….


It is that time of year that excites me. Not with New Year Resolutions, but with an openness to receive a theme, a focus, a symbol for the upcoming year, full of possibility.

This is my seventh year of having a word or phrase of the year. Honestly, a few of those years, having a word theme didn't make much of a difference. Others, as in this year, 2015, the word has influenced every aspect of my life and kept me focused. Today I’m asking why? A few things I’ve learned about a word of the year are:

~ Having too long of a phrase or more than one focus means I am less likely to remember and apply the word of the year to my life

~ There are different seasons in life, and it is not up to me to make something happen. My task is to trust God and work with what is happening, what is open to me, and be open to projects and life not looking just how I think it should.

~ Feeling pressure to “just pick a word” doesn’t work for me. It means I am focusing on the pressure to perform rather than listening to God for direction. One year, a close friend never got her word for that year. At the end, she said she needed to rest from it and that was okay. Her following year was an amazing adventure.

~ Beginning to ask and watch for a word around Thanksgiving, the end of November, helps me ease into the idea of a new word, and reflect on the current word of the year and how it played out in my life.

~ Sometimes there comes more than a word. The past few years, I have symbols that represent the word and the year. Being a visual person, the symbols are incredibly meaningful to me. I love research and finding layers of meaning, so this part feels like a treasure hunt to me. This year my word AIM has been one of the most meaningful. The symbols that have accompanied the word have brought more purpose and focus.

~ There are other things that may bring meaning to the word of the year. A few years ago my daughter said she had a song of the year. What a great idea! I smiled as I imagined her whistling her song throughout the year. I have had a few songs over the years, but when I’ve said I am going to pick a song of the year, it didn’t stick. I learned I don’t have to have the same categories each year  to carry throughout the year.

For 2015 I've had a book of the year: Inner Compass by Margaret Silf. I read it over two times, and has many underlined passages, extensive thoughts written in the margins, and dog-eared pages. I know I will be revisiting it again.

This coming year I have an animal of the year, because as I was receiving the word, I encountered an animal in an unusual way and then researched the symbolism of the animal. One other year, I had an animal, but not because I planned it. It kept showing up in unusual, hard to miss ways over a period of 18 months. I may have a triad of colors for this upcoming year, but I’m still waiting for more input on that.

I do have a quote of the year for 2016 I will share. It has already influenced how my husband and I are looking at traveling plans for the year. It is the last line of one of my favorite movies, Dan in Real Life:

“Plan to be surprised.”


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!



        

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Christmas Mystery - God with Us


One of the Christmas mysteries that is hard to grasp is that Jesus, born as a baby, is both fully God and fully man. How could the God of the universe, so big, come to be so vulnerably small? It seems almost unthinkable that the Creator of the Universe would come and limit himself to human time, space, to a body like ours. Why?
"Because of God's tender mercy
the morning light from heaven
is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace."

Luke 1:78-79 NLT

God loves us! And tells us many times, as in probably the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Here it is in The Passion Translation:

“For this is how much God loved the world –
He gave His uniquely conceived Son as a gift.
So now everyone who believes in Him,
Will never perish, but experience everlasting life.”



God the Father has loved us
God the Son came to be with us
God the Holy Spirit was given to live in us
Now we can have the Presence and power of the Holy Trinity living through us

Wow! If that is the case, I think we can expect some amazing, glorious things ahead!

I used to think Jesus came to earth to die for my sins, and rose from the dead so I could go to heaven when I died. Now, that thinking seems so small. Jesus did come for those things, YES, but He also came to show me, to show all of us, how to live. It is impossible except that God loves us, Jesus came to give us His Holy Spirit to live inside us and through us, so the world might be changed and His Kingdom and Love would reign, on earth as it is in heaven.


Jesus said in John 14:23 TPT

"Loving Me empowers you to obey My word. 
And My Father will love you so deeply that 
We will come to you and make you our dwelling place."

Immanuel
God with us


NOTE: Sandwich deli wrap paper is not available everywhere. I bought mine, First Street brand at Cash & Carry here in the U.S. The paper is also called Dry Wax paper, but is different than the regular wax paper I buy at the grocery store. I also have used Kabnet wax brand that is available on Amazon. It is more waxy on one side so I prefer the First Street brand. I have noticed other brands on Amazon, Marcal and Logan, but I haven't tried them.  If you have, it would be great for you to let us know in the comments.  There may be substitutions where you live. Look for translucent paper that can withstand wet media.

MATERIALS USED:
    

Blog Affiliate Disclosure
To make the products I talk about in this blog and videos more accessible and to answer product questions, I've affiliated with Amazon.com. I do not get paid for using any of the products and only share products I use often, and am pleased to recommend them. I get a number of questions regarding the products I use. I thought this would be the win/win opportunity for you and I. If you click on any of the Amazon product links above and purchase the product, I receive a small percentage, like a tip. It does not cost you anything.