"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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Door and Book of the Year

I have a confession. At the beginning of the calendar year, I make a point to write the word of the year with chalkboard pens on our kitchen door that has been painted with chalkboard paint. This year, however, I didn't do it. I liked the theme and message from last year so I left it there through half of this year. For months I wrestled and explored this year's word AIM, its meaning, symbolism, and imagery. Finally, a few weeks ago, halfway through this year, I doodled and wrote on the door, featuring my shape of the year: Concentric Circle. Just below, the left photo is of the door in our kitchen. On the right is a photocopy of that door photo glued into my calendar journal with doodling around the edge. I integrated the doodles into the design by using colored pencil with colors similar to the colors of the chalkboard pens.

I've been reading and writing so much this year, that I filled up my moleskine hardback journal at the end of June. It seemed fitting I begin the new 2nd-half-of-2015 journal with the image of the year's theme on the door.

This year, I also have a favorite Book of the Year, Inner Compass by Margaret Silf. This book has touched my heart deeply. In fact, it means so much that I ordered a hard copy in addition to the Kindle version. The metaphors of journey and nature are masterful! Margaret Silf begins the book with an invitation of discovery and a concentric circle that speaks to Who we are,the journey inward and then back out to the world. This book has sparked my imagination with creative ideas! If you consider yourself a kindred spirit, I highly recommend it. 

The door represents the goal of my journey, what to AIM for. It comforts me to know I am not alone. God not only leads me but journeys with me. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pondering the Practical Side of My Word of the Year

Sometimes my inner weather shifts from a clear view of where I'm headed to standing in front of a wall of mental fog, not knowing what to do next. Now is one of those times. Projects are arranged in piles of what needs to be done. Ideas swirl around in my thinking, and an old dream rises up within me speaking in a creaky voice, "Now is the time." Disappointment and Insecurity are quick to respond with, "You tried that before and nothing happened. You have proof. Just look in your drawer full of files... Life is short. Should you really be wasting your time on this? Will you ever let that dream die?" Then feeling overwhelmed, confused, I ask myself, "What am I AIMing for here?"

While studying my word of the year, AIM, a friend, who has experience in archery told me that it is important to keep aiming until the arrow hits the mark, and to aim with your body, and know how to breathe. That archery advice translates to my life and especially my thought process now. It is hard to hold the bow steady, to remember to breathe, and to breathe at the right moment in order to keep steady and hit the mark. I am asking the questions: What am I aiming at right now? What is my bow for this situation? What are my arrows? How do I get ready, aim, and fire at the center of the target? So many questions....

Times like these, I realize I need to gain perspective and wisdom outside of myself. I happened to have a timely lunch scheduled with a dear friend, artist, and colleague. As kindred spirits, we freely share about life, art and faith, our work etc. With all our similarities and things in common, we also have different strengths, like iron sharpening iron, challenging one another to reach higher. Our meeting was that kind of meeting for me. She courageously told me I was blocked and challenged me to get to work on the dream, just the next step, as imperfect as it may be. Then she said the most amazing thing, "I am in this with you. You can do it. You need to do it. Go home and start doing it today." Whoa! She hardly ever talks to me with such force. I was jolted into action, went home, facing Disappointment and Insecurity, trusting in the midst of the fog, taking the next imperfect step, trying to hold the bow, learning to breathe again.

"The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy."

- Psalm 28:7 NLT 

It is time to take AIM!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Art Community Alert - Protect Your Copyrights!

Along with an important, time sensitive message about copyright, I thought I would include this photo of a mask I made while at the Awakening the Creative Spirit Program with Christine Valters-Paintner and Betsey Beckman this spring. The week was a beautiful time of exploring the depths of personal art expression and movement. It was the perfect pairing to the Sustainable Faith Spiritual Direction Training I am currently in. I will be referring to the experience in later blogs, but today I'm giving a time-sensitive message that is important to all creatives.

Here is the mask I made at the Awakening the Creative Spirit: Experiential Education for Spiritual Direction in the Expressive Arts 

Hello Dear Readers, 
Today I visited Joanne Fink's blog Zenspirations®  www.zenspirations.com  and found this important information about copyright and what we can do to encourage the US Copyright office to keep on protecting artists images. I have written a personal letter and submitted it online to the copyright office. The deadline is this Thursday, so the time to act is now. Please consider writing too. Copyright is important! Here is the info:
Copyright Office's plans to create a new Copyright Act which would change the copyright protection that we have enjoyed since 1976 when our current copyright law was established.
Cherish Flieder, founder of the LinkedIn 13,000+ member Art of Licensing Group, and the online community of www.ArtLicensingShow.com, is committed to making sure that visual artists voices are heard. Towards that end, we have co-authored this Call to Action, in order to:
1.      Raise awareness about the potential changes to U.S. Copyright Law and how they would negatively impact visual artists.
2.      Inspire each of you to make YOUR voice heard by writing a letter to the Copyright Office by Thursday, July 23, 2015.
a. Letters from U.S. citizens should be addressed to:
Maria Pallante
Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
and begin:
RE: Notice of Inquiry, Copyright Office, Library of Congress
Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works (Docket No. 2015-01)
Dear Ms. Pallante & U.S. Copyright Office Staff:
Send your letter electronically as a PDF or word document via this link:   http://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/comment-form/
b. Letters from non U.S. citizens should be emailed to Catherine Rowland at crowland@loc.gov and should be addressed to:
 Catherine Rowland, Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
 and begin:
RE: Notice of Inquiry, Copyright Office, Library of Congress
 Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works (Docket No. 2015-01)
3.      Encourage you to share this information with everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.
HISTORY:In 2006 and again in 2008, Congress considered enacting “Orphan Works” legislation. An ‘orphan work’ is a piece of art whose copyright holder is unknown. As drafted, the 2008 Orphan Works Bill would have made it impossible for visual artists to protect their art and intellectual property because:
1.     It would have allowed anyone to use a piece of art for any purpose if they were unable  to locate the copyright holder after a “diligent” search. 
a.     Since there is no searchable database of visual art, finding the copyright holder of a particular  image is like looking for a needle in a haystack… nearly impossible.   
2.     It removed statutory damages, which currently prevent rampant willful infringement. 
  a.    Currently, if a company uses a piece of art that has been registered with the U.S. Copyright  Office, without the copyright holder’s permission, they risk being forced to pay up to $150,000 for  EACH product they use the art on! This ensures that most companies work out an agreement with  the artists whose work they wish to publish, rather than risking expensive legal action.

b.    Lack of statutory damages would have made it “cost effective” for companies without integrity  to steal/use art because no financial penalty would have been imposed.

The legislation was defeated in both sessions of Congress, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner of The Illustrator's Partnership, as well as all the 'team leaders' (myself included) who went to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional representatives, and who served as the interface between art organizations and the master lobbying effort.
Since 2014, Congress has been holding hearings to gather information before drafting a totally new U.S. Copyright Actwhich would replace the Copyright Act of 1976. Last month they filed the Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, which makes it clear that the legislation they plan to propose [you may read their 234 page PDF here: http://copyright.gov/orphan/reports/orphan-works2015.pdf ] will reverse the ‘copyright exists upon creation’ premise, and instead require artists to pay a fee to register every design they want to protect. It would also allow infringers to create and register derivative works, which would in turn make it even more difficult for artists to monetize their creations because they would not necessarily be able to guarantee their licensees exclusive use of a design.
1.     Under current copyright law it is not necessary to sign, date or even put a © symbol on a work; ergo millions of designs created since 1976 do not have attributions attached, making it difficult to identify the creators.
2.     The Internet poses an increased risk for art without appropriate credit to be shared, making it imperative for the Copyright Office to continue to recognize the ownership of these works.
3.     Many artists are extremely prolific, creating thousands of images each year. It would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming to force them to register every design created in order to protect it (including past, present and future works).
The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation. LETTERS ARE DUE ON THURSDAY, JULY 23rd. You can read it here: Notice of Inquiry on Visual Works: http://copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/
At this point, there is no bill before congress, and our job is to make sure that when a bill is written, the needs of the visual arts community will be taken into consideration. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional artist, crafter, hobbyist, student, manufacturer, art licensor— or not involved in the arts— copyright impacts us all. This is a time-critical matter; LETTERS ARE DUE BY JULY 23rd!!! PLEASE WRITE AND SEND YOURS TODAY! And then ask every visual artist you know to do the same. We were able to defeat this legislation in two different sessions of congress because there were enough people who were motivated to DO something… together we can make a difference. Every voice matters… please make sure yours is heard!
If you aren’t sure what to say, here are some suggestions from Brad Holland of the Illustrator’s Partnership:
In your letter to the Copyright OffIce:
It's important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have "testified" that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.
So when writing, please remember:
– It's important that you make your letter personal and truthful.
– Keep it professional and respectful.
– Explain that you're an artist and have been one for x number of years.
– Briefly list your educational background, publications, awards etc.
– Indicate the field(s) you work in.
– Explain clearly and forcefully that for you, copyright law is not an abstract legal issue, but the basis on which your business rests.
– Our copyrights are the products we license.
– This means that infringing our work is no different than stealing our money.
– It's important to our businesses that we remain able to determine voluntarily how and by whom our work is used.
– Stress that your work does NOT lose its value upon publication.
– Instead, everything you create becomes part of your business inventory.
– In the digital era, inventory is more valuable to artists than ever before.
If you are NOT a professional artist:
– Define your specific interest in copyright, and give a few relevant details.
– You might want to stress that it's important to you that you determine how and by whom your work is used.
– You might wish to state that even if you are a hobbyist, you would not welcome someone else monetizing your work for their own profit without your knowledge or consent.
The U.S. Copyright Office  acknowledges that visual artists face special problems in the marketplace and they've asked artists to respond to five questions. If you are a professional artist, please consider incorporating answers to these questions in your letter:
1. What are the most significant challenges related to monetizing and/or licensing photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations?
2. What are the most significant enforcement challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?
3. What are the most significant registration challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?
4. What are the most significant challenges or frustrations for those who wish to make legal use of photographs, graphic art works, and/or illustrations?
5. What other issues or challenges should the Office be aware of regarding photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations under the Copyright Act?

Here are links to sample letters:
 Other related information:
 The most detailed background information on the subject can be found in a video interview where well known children’s book illustrator and educator, Will Terry, interviews famed editorial illustrator Brad Holland, co-founder of the The Illustrators’ Partnership of America (IPA), who has been active in keeping visual creators aware of the ongoing orphan works threat. VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDoztLDF73I
In summary, the copyrights to your photos, artwork, and other tangible creative expressions are VALUABLE and enable you to determine how and where your work is used; which companies to work with, and what products you want your designs to be on. The U.S. Copyright Office needs to take the needs of visual artists and the Art Licensing community into consideration when drafting this new legislation. Please take the time to protect your future: write today, and share this to encourage others to write as well.
Cherish FliederIllustrator, Designer, Educator, Art Licensor, Entrepreneur
Founder of 
www.ArtLicensingShow.com and the 13K+ Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, but felt compelled to share what we’ve learned with our fellow creatives. PLEASE consult your attorney for a specific interpretation of this proposed copyright change and to find out what it would specifically mean to your business. Nothing contained herein or linked to should be interpreted as legal advice.
 Thanks for taking the  time to make a difference.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Does it Mean to Live an Abundant Life?

That has been my question as I have read through John 10 the past few months. I didn't want to read over this chapter and think, "Oh I know that." I wanted to experience the truth of what Jesus is saying. 

"I have come that they may have life, 
and that they may have it more abundantly."

- John 10:10 NKJV

The metaphor of a shepherd is not something I relate to. I don't know any shepherds, or sheep. That was not true of the audience Jesus was talking to. They were very familiar with the life of shepherds and sheep. As I read the passage, I notice Jesus is speaking to a mixed group, some seeking more of God, seeking truth, and some feeling threatened, hostile. From the context, having an "abundant life" can't mean merely to be free of trouble or conflict, or gaining pleasure. 

I read and imagine myself in the crowd longing for what Jesus is saying, wanting to belong, hoping what he is saying is true. Hearing Jesus' voice, looking into his eyes, I feel drawn to him,  into the peace as he describes himself as the one who calls his own - calls me by name - and leads me. I follow him because I recognize his voice. That is what I want, to hear God's voice, to be secure in His presence, to follow where He leads.

As I did the word studies for John 10:10 in my everyday journal (two pages are shown below) the meaning starts to sink in: To belong, to be known, to be loved. That is what we all want. That is what Jesus came for. He makes the amazing statement that he knows me like the Father knows him, and I can grow to know him like that too! How far does that knowing and loving go? To the point of death on the cross where Jesus, willing, laid down his life for the sake of his people, his sheep, for me. I am so grateful.

I notice something else, Jesus said "that they may." He gives me the choice, not pressuring me into a relationship. I am free to choose. 

Another even more familiar Scripture comes to mind. I turn to Psalm 23 and as I read, it occurs to me that the Psalm is describing the abundant life Jesus is talking about. Now I am approaching Psalm 23 with the question, "What does it look like for me to live the abundant life?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Revisiting my Word of the Year through a Shape

This year I have a shape of the year as well as a word. My word is AIM and my shape, concentric circle. The circle is filled with loads of symbolic meaning to me, and is encompassed by the word "shalom." It is more than peace. It is wholeness, completeness in every way. As this art journal developed it became clear that the attributes I list are all qualities to aim for.


I have also been inspired by Mary Brack's blog post "Collage Therapy" at http://mewithmyheadintheclouds.blogspot.com. Mary also uses a lot of circles in her artwork. Her circles often radiate out from a center, both similar and opposite of the concentric circles I've been using. In one example she put "i am" in the center and then words that tell about who she is. Here is my version of an "i am" circle. I love that my word of the year aim also has the same letters...

"A blessing is a circle drawn around a person to 
protect, heal and strengthen."

~ John O'Donahue
Brainy Quotes


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jumping Back in with a Weekend Art Journaling Adventure

It was wonderful this past weekend to gather a small intimate group of Creatives to art journal, learning new techniques and ways to express the creativity within. I loved making art with these beautiful women!

Constance, Linda, Kathi, Amanda, Heidi, Heather & Michelle
It was a small intimate group (I'm taking the photo) and both the creative flow and interaction was inspiring.

Here is a photo Constance (https://simplyliving101.wordpress.com/) took during a demo:

At the end, we all shared about our journals and the process:

Here is a look at my cover completed:

I chose the shape of a circle as my theme for this journal I demonstrated in throughout the weekend.

It was really fun! Next time we'll take a peek at the inside...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time for a Coffee Break...

"If you excuse me a minute.
I'm going to have a cup of coffee."
- Crew broadcast from Apollo 11's Eagle, 1969

Actually, I'm taking a bit more than a coffee break. It's time for a week or so off of being online, and time to get out in nature and be with friends, so I thought I'd let you know I'd be gone a bit with a peek into my mixed media coffee journal. 

A cup of coffee in the morning is a tradition at our house and was brought to a new level when my daughter became a barista. It's also a kind of cultural trademark in the Pacific Northwest. Many ideas, books, meetings, deep conversations, laughter, and times of relaxation are shared over cups of coffee or tea. 

I hope you are giving yourself time to take a break, rest, be quiet, enjoy nature and raise a cup or glass to the joy of being alive. 

Blessings to you this day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NEW Lesson! 4 New Videos Added to Online Class

I am excited about my new step-by-step lesson on embellishing edges and journal covers with stencils! Since I launched the online classes, I have made the Fire and Wind Journals. The covers of these journals are made using a stencil to define the edges and feature doodling with paint and pen. The ideas go along so well with Embellishing Edges & Text Online Class featuring the Hope journal, that I have decided to add this new lesson that includes four new how-to videos to the Embellishing Edges & Text online Workshop listed on my website under the Online Classes Menu. 

To go to the Art Journaling Workshop Information & Registration page

There is now a third journal in the series with the theme of Water.  I begin the first video in the lesson by showing journals I've made using a wide variety of stencils to define edges and shapes of journal covers and pages. Then there are three additional videos showing my step-by-step process of making the journal cover and edges beginning with a stencil and piece of watercolor paper and ending with acrylic paint.

The process of making the art journal cover shown just above is the one that is demonstrated in step-by-step videos in the bonus lesson of 

Cheers to New Ideas!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Extravagantly Poured Out - Bible Art Journaling

I hadn't planned on reading the first section John 12, but found myself immersed in the story this week. I became aware, that for all the times I've read it, I hadn't really taken in the setting, imagining what it must have been like to be there, what it must have been like to be Mary, sister of Lazarus. Her brother had recently been raised from the dead after four days in the grave! Jesus had done the impossible! Their lives were forever changed. Mary wanted to do something to show Jesus how grateful she was; she felt she might burst. So many people had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah because of what he did for her family.  What she didn't quite expect was the distressing backlash from the resurrection of Lazarus. People should be happy! Those who were threatened by Jesus and his miracles were plotting to kill him, and Lazarus too! It was easy to see things might get dangerous, and fast, and Mary wanted, no needed, to show Jesus her gratitude and that she would be steadfast in her loyalty and love, no matter what. 

Martha, Mary's sister, herself, and Lazarus prepared a dinner to honor Jesus when he came back in town. Toward the end of dinner, Mary came in with a large bottle of expensive perfume, worth 300 days of a laborer's wages. She reverently paused and then began to anoint Jesus' feet with the perfume, wiping his feet with her hair. Her bold and extravagant act was accentuated by the fragrance filling the room. She didn't care if she was criticized or misunderstood. All that mattered was Jesus. Her inkling was correct, the political climate was dangerous. Jesus defended her extravagance by saying, " Leave her alone. She did this in preparation of my burial...."

Becoming familiar with the setting helps me appreciate the intense situation. I am moved by the bold extravagance of Mary. I can imagine being her, and that causes me to consider what Jesus has done for me. Honestly, I don't think I would be alive today if it weren't for Jesus. He has changed my life. I am so grateful for the life he has given me.

Questions arise: How can I be bold and extravagant with my gratitude and love for Jesus? What does it mean for me to be "poured out?" What is the invitation God is calling me to? 

For the illumination above, I did not paint directly in the Bible margin. Instead, I sketched the idea in pencil and then traced it in pencil and pen onto another piece of paper. Then I thickened some of the lines of "hair" and added patterns with Pitt pens. After a coat of acrylic glazing liquid dried, I painted using fluid acrylic paints. Then I cut it out and glued it into the margin. The highlighting of the Scripture was done with Prismacolor colored pencil to match.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Longing and Praise - Bible Journaling and a Discovery

Grief can feel like moving through the day under a heavy gray blanket. Carrying the hole a loved one leaves feels so heavy. I needed to take a break and go to a place of comfort, the Psalms. When I just need to feel and be with God but don't know how to put the feelings into words, I often turn to the Psalms. The first verse of Psalm 63 was featured as the verse of a week on the HKC, His Kingdom Come community website. I found myself in Psalm 63, written when David was in the wilderness:

"O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy."

- Psalm 63:1-5 NLT

God is in the heavy hole. Creativity is there waiting for expression. I begin to re-member, to become more whole, to trust, to feel the longing and the hope again. The Psalmist's words are coming to life for me. I am grateful. I praise you God of comfort.

While painting this page I imagined how dark it would be to be under a wing, God's wing. Secure, safe, but dark. Then it occurred to me that the only way to sing for joy in the dark is to know where I'm at, that I am safe in the shadow of God's wings. 


On these pages I pushed and varied the painting processes. You can see on the left page I have a torn piece of painted paper glued on the surface. It got a little wrinkly. Oh well. The big discovery that works well for painting on Bible pages is... are you ready?.... Glazing Liquid. My friend, Linda Eld and I Bible Art Journal and we're always trying new things and doing "show-n-tell." My Show-n-Tell was how matte medium did not work very well on the Bible pages. Linda's was that Glazing Liquid is AMAZING for sealing Bible pages! We just brushed a thin coat on the page and let it thoroughly dry. It sealed the page and there weren't any wrinkles! The edges tend to curl up a little, but when we put a coat of glazing liquid on the back side of the page and let it dry, it laid perfectly flat. It seals it for no bleed through and then is ready to paint on top. You can even draw with a pencil and erase on it. Good news!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Way, The Truth, The Life - Bible Art Journaling

For me, the term "the way, the truth, and the life" pretty much covers all the bases in life. It speaks to me of living in the present with purpose and focus, getting back to my word of the year: AIM. I AM. As I have been reading in John, I am paying closer attention to the context of the words. The words of Jesus, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life..." come during the last supper in John 13, after Jesus washed the disciples feet, after he tells his friends that one of them will betray him and after he tells Peter he will deny Jesus three times. Bad news to say the least. I bet this wasn't the abundant life the disciples had in mind.

After serving his companions, leading by example, and giving two prophetic words, Jesus reminds his disciples of the key command: to love one another. At this low point, Jesus gently gives his friends hope and is sensitive to their pain as he gets ready to begin his own journey to the cross. 

He begins John 14 (NRSV) with, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also...I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.... The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves."

Then came my surprise, in the following paragraph. I knew the verses were in the Bible, but in my mind I never placed them in this context. Jesus was talking about their future empowered by the Holy Spirit. He says:

"Truly, truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father."   - John 14:12 NRSV

This context makes me look at verse 12 in a new way, considering what "works" mean. I've tended to think it meant mostly something done in the supernatural like healing or miracles. So I looked the word "works" in John 14:12-14 at blueletterbible.org. Strong's Concordance lists "works" as meaning work, deed, doing, labor. The bible usage of "works" refers to business, employment, what one is occupied in, an undertaking; any thing or product accomplished by hand, art, industry or mind; an act, deed, or thing done. The definitions would include healing and miracles like Jesus did, but it seems like the term "works" is much broader than I had considered. Now I see verse 12 saying: if I believe in God, in Jesus, I will, through the Holy Spirit's presence in my life, also humble myself and serve others like Jesus washing the disciples' dirty feet. I will tell the truth even if it is not popular. I will seek God to be glorified more than what would make me comfortable, and I will love those people around me. When I am faced with a path of suffering and sacrifice, I will give those around me hope to carry on. Wow! My definition of miracle is currently going through an adjustment, broadening because of this. For me to consistently live like that would be a miracle, a supernatural work of the Spirit. I certainly cannot live like that in my own strength. Jesus was doing much more than telling them he was the Way, he had also been living the Way, telling the Truth, and showing them how to live Life, the path from from life to death, to new life and beyond. He was asking them if they believe Him enough to follow Him, no matter what, and He was assuring them, they would not be alone and this was not the end. Extraordinary!

The message of Jesus, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" is hard to grasp, The visual expression is challenging as well. This symbol above is the Messianic Seal. I came across it and the meaning 11 years ago while searching to illustrate the "I AM" statements of Jesus for my painting thesis. This symbol, used today in Messianic Judaism and Christianity, includes the ancient Jewish symbol of the menorah, the earliest Christian symbol of the fish and the base of the menorah and the tail of the fish forming the Star of David. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Resurrection Power - Bible Art Journaling John 11

Reading the Bible and entering into the story makes the experience real to me, engaging my mind and emotion, capturing my imagination. This is one reason why I art journal. The process itself, helps me look at the little things in the text I may overlook in just reading of it. As I design, write, plan, paint etc. I pray, listen, and meditate on the meaning of the text. 

As I dig into John 11, the death and resurrection of Lazarus is especially relevant to me these days as I consider life and death. If you read my last post, you know I've related to Martha. I think we often underestimate her because of a previous story, but she had great faith in Jesus. I was also struck by something else this time as I read further in the chapter. In raising Lazarus when he was very dead, four days in a grave, while many mourners were there, Jesus was giving his people the chance to witness the power of God, victory over death itself. Many did believe, but some did not. It makes me ask why? It gives insight to the motivations of the people and challenges me about mine. In this story, I see God's desire for His people, His compassion, and find that comforting in the midst of my own questions and seeking.

"Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.'  Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.'"                
- John 11:21-27 ESV

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Expressing Grief and Belief... A Tribute

I believed fully for healing and rejoiced in the good report. Then the news came. Leukemia was back... for the third time. I wrestled hard, angry, not understanding, grieving. When faced with this type of situation in the past I have tended to pull back from God, but this time, determined not to, I pressed in, coming to God with unguarded emotion and questions. Then finally crying out, "What do you want me to do with this?" Waiting. Then the still small voice to my heart. "I want you to be drawn so deep into my love, that you trust my love for you, for Darlene, for her family, more than you trust the outcome of your prayer." But how? Waiting. A heavy kind of peace settled on me and I sensed God taking my burden. I don't know how long I was in that presence, but my faith changed. I found myself relating to Martha, in John 11, when she goes out to meet Jesus after Lazarus had died and was put in the tomb. I said, "Lord, if you had healed my friend, Darlene would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." Jesus is saying to me, "Your friend will rise again." I say to him, "I know that she will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus is saying to me, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" I answer, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." (Personalized from the Bible, John 11:21-27 NRSV)

When I visited Darlene recently in the hospital, I asked if I could pray for healing. She said yes, and I prayed for healing each time I saw her, believing in the God who loves us, and leaving the outcome in His hands. During that same conversation, Darlene Carlson said, 

"I am surrendered, but I haven't given up." 

She also said she was at peace. Shown above, I put Darlene's quote into visual expression using a silhouette of mine I use often. I chose it because it seems like Darlene saying, "I am surrendered and have risen above my circumstances and am at home with myself."

Darlene Carlson, my Friend, full of Life!
Darlene is one of the most authentic and caring people I've ever known. By being transparent herself, she gave those around her permission to be themselves. In that way, Darlene set the tone for our friendship that began over 20 years ago. We shared honestly, had deep conversations, shared the joys everyday life in raising children, we voiced doubts, worked through misunderstandings, celebrated as family, were silly, and laughed uproariously.

Darlene, passed away last Friday. It is hard to to imagine life without her here. The surreal jumbled fog of grief washes over me now and then. I'm not unfamiliar with it. Each time a loved one dies, grief comes like the first time, taking me off guard all of  a sudden, in waves.

Another friend of mine, Mary George-Whittle who is a chaplain for elderly people, ushers 40-50 people into afterlife each year. Five years ago I asked Mary, "How do people die?" She answered, "I've found, people die how they live." That simple statement still challenges me to live well today with a view of eternity. Darlene did that.

With this last relapse of leukemia, Darlene made a list of who she wanted to see and what she wanted to say and then she did it. She didn't focus on her illness. Darlene was all about relationships. She said it often and lived it. Even in hospice, when I walked in her room, she would ask me the question she always asked, "What's going on with you?"

We carry each other's stories. How we carry them matters. Life really is all about relationships.

A remembrance written for Darlene in the margin space of my May 2015 calendar.