Wednesday, June 22, 2016

God Will Rewrite Our Story...Plus 5-Steps to Healing Hurt HeARTs Prompt



Each one of us has a story...

Every day we are "writing" that story in the way we live our lives.

Some days we do better writing than on other days...

Unlike an author that writes with pen and ink, or even types, we cannot throw what we have written away...or what someone else has pushed in and written what they willed on our story

Over the course of time, our skills improve.  
We meet people who help us along the way.
People become a part of our story whether we invite them into it or not.
Challenges, joys, griefs, fellowship, laughter, dancing, births and deaths;
mistakes and successes; transformations and inspirations....

All are transcribed on the pages of our lives...


The good parts; the painful parts; the parts we regret eventually...


Everything is there - nothing can be thrown away or erased...


But there is another Author.  The One who has written upon all of history.  

When we submit our "manuscript" to Him, and let His careful eye read;
He doesn't erase.  He doesn't reject.  He doesn't throw away.

2 Corinthians 3:3



He rewrites.  He writes over the places that need help.  He writes over the pain and mistakes and regret and doesn't remove their fact...


By His writing, He redeems our story. 


Nothing is removed - it is reframed and written by the Author's hand to reflect what He knows is true.
And as He writes, a miracle occurs...

We begin to see as He does, and we begin to co-author our stories with His...
Just as in any good story, there is a beginning, a climax, and then the end...
Between the beginning and the end, there must be a conflict...


Healing Art/Healing Journaling Prompt
 
 (Please read through the entire entry before you begin.  This will give you a better experience as you will know what to expect as opposed to 'just winging it'!)

In my last post I shared a spontaneous journaling piece I had done that morning. As I was writing that blog entry, I remembered this technique I had tried several years ago, journaling on top of journaling to make interesting marks on art...I don't believe I ever published anything with it, as I was still practicing - I still like the look of it - and the idea of "abstract journaling" comes to mind...

The "look" is abstract; or modernistic if you prefer - but it isn't random.  In putting new writing on top of the old, we are becoming co-authors with God, rewriting our past with His promises and truth - His words coupled with the act of writing will help cement His promises in our hearts (not to mention that you will end up with something that looks very contemporary to use in your art, or just keep in your journal.)1

Supplies:

Prepared art journaling page or plain journal - even just a sheet of paper of choice
writing tool
a Bible

Step 1:

Prepare to write.  Close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly three times.  Still your mind.  Ask the Lord for His Presence and guidance for this prompt.  Pay attention to what comes up in your mind:  is it an image; words; an emotion felt even in the body?  Jot down 3 - 5 words that will help to remind you of what came up at the top of the paper or journal you have with you.

 Step 2:

Using free writing (quickly writing the stream of thoughts and ideas flowing through your mind without regard to proper grammar or punctuation), write the words that come to you concerning the topic found in Step 1.  You might want to set a timer for around 5 minutes for this portion, so you don't get bogged down in possible negative thoughts or memories.  This is just a suggestion, not a hard, fast rule!  Remember that healing art is supposed to be fun!

Once written, do you need to step away for a few minutes to ground yourself or regroup?  You can drink a cup of tea or coffee, take a short walk, move around for the duration of a favorite song or two.  These activities help to get you "out of your head" and into the present.

Consider if you want to do the next part of this exercise now or wait a while or even wait till tomorrow.  Any decision is perfect for you - and waiting may give you more time to 'hear God' for His promises and purposes and healing words for what you have written.  You may want to take time to search the Scriptures for specific verses that apply to what you have written (trusting that the Holy Spirit will "illuminate" the one's He specifically is leading you towards)


Step 3:

Return to your journal entry and begin to write over the top of your previous writing any words, promises, quotes, verses, etc.  that you believe the Lord is saying to you about the topic.  You can write in any direction!  For my piece, I turned my original journaling upside down and then wrote over the top of it.  I got some nice upstrokes and downstrokes over the course of my page using this method.  Write as much as you like.  If you run out of new words to cover your original writing, just begin to repeat until all of your original entry is covered.  Or, if you have more new words than old, you can stop when the old is covered OR begin a third layer of writing!  Fun!  And the Lord may speak something to your heart about these layers covering your original!



Step 4:

Add extra embellishments if you like.  I noticed swishes and dots (from dotting my "i's" and "js", and I had space to add embellishments and liked the way it turned out.  (Plus, it gave me some additional practice with my dip pen!)






Step 5:

You might want to do a little reflective journaling about what you learned through the process.  Consider documenting the words, scripture, quotes and promises that you used in your overwriting to keep them as a legible way to remember what God has written over your heart!


Need some ideas for God's promises?

Check these links:

Promises that speak to fear and anxiety 
Promises that speak to worrying 
Promises that speak of God's love for you 
Promises that speak to times you feel overwhelmed 
Promises that speak of God's compassion and mercy 
Promises that speak of His constant presence 
Romans 8 is a tremendous chapter of the blessings we have because we are God's children.
And finally, a list of "I am" through the promises of God verses (also known as our identity in Christ) 
 
Blessings!
Cindy

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"I know it is hard sometimes to know where to start..."


Need a place to start doing your art?  Or just need to get unstuck from something that seems to have blocked your freedom in Christ?

Just start, just do it, let it flow...a quick free writing exercise to get the blocks out on paper is sometimes all you need!  Free writing is done by just jotting down the words/thoughts at the fore front of your mind with no regard as to capitalization, punctuation, or grammar rules (or spelling!)...set a timer for 3-5 minutes, and then be finished. 

I am sharing my spontaneous, free writing  journaling this morning as I was adding to "scrap" paper to make story cards (a UFO from a spring class I was in!):

"I know it is hard sometimes to know where to start with your art ~ color, lines, images, value, shape, inner dreams, like "I want this to be beautiful, a masterpiece. But I must practice for that to happen - where do I start?"

I tell you - just start...there is no wasted time when it comes to putting pen or pencil to paper (or paintbrush!). Even now, the inner critic says I ruined my paper by writing over the top of color and shapes ~ silly inner critic...doesn't she know there are no mistakes in art?"





Monday, March 14, 2016

Saint Gobnait - Musings about an Ancient Irish Holy Woman

A white stage, inspired by St. Gobnait's story....

"Gobnait" (pronounced GAWB-net) is the Irish version of Abigail - In Hebrew Abigail means "my father is joy".  And I cannot help but think about these verses:

"...in your presence there is fullness of joy..."
Psalm 16:11

"...You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy..."
Psalm 45:7

"... the joy of the LORD is your strength..."
Nehemiah 8:10

St Gobnait is one of few women Irish saints we have and she lived around the 5th– 6th century. She is known as the saint for bees and beekeepers. She is also the patron of the sick and it is likely that she used honey as a healing medicine (which is considered to be one of the three great Celtic healers - the other two being water and labor).

Gobnait was born in County Clare. She fled from Clare and took refuge in the Aran Islands, where she encountered an angel who instructed her to go on a journey. The angel told her that when she came upon nine white deer, that would be her "resurrection place".   She wandered through Waterford, Cork, and Kerry in search. At first she saw three white deer in Clondrohid and followed them to Ballymakeera where she saw six more.  Finally, when Gobnait arrived in Ballyvourney, where there was a small rise overlooking the River Sullane, she saw nine white deer grazing all together just as the angel had promised, so she settled there and founded her monastic community.

Christine Valters Paintner writes: There is a deep and rich tradition among the Irish monks to seek out the place of one’s resurrection. This was done through the practice of peregrinatio, a setting sail without oar or rudder to let the currents of love carry you. (This happened in metaphoric ways as well.)



In Christian iconography, the stag/buck is a representative of aspiring to be closer to God (consider Psalm 42:1). It is a symbol of thirsting for purity (this plays into the color white, too) and union with the Holy Spirit. The stag is also a symbol of solitude and going within to connect with spiritual wisdom.


St Gobnait shows us to listen to our hearts to find our home and once there do all in your calling to love and protect it.  (Jean Wise)



References:
http://www.matrifocus.com/IMB05/ireland-gobnait.htm 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sacredartofliving/2016/02/feast-of-st-gobnait-go-seek-the-place-of-your-resurrection/
http://healthyspirituality.org/celtic-christianity-tending-the-holy-thursdays/

Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Tips to Find a "Prayer Sanctuary" in the Home You Have


  The first thing we need when we have decided to commit to listening and praying to the Lord is to find that special place that will invite us in, to beckon us to pause, to seek, to listen...

As you use this space, meeting with the Lord there, 
it becomes a haven
a sacred spot where you of calm retreat 
because the anointing of the Lord is tangibly felt there; 
a sanctuary of peace and rest for your heart... 

and ultimately this sanctuary will become the structure 
WITHIN your heart in which the Holy Presence of God resides...

Let's begin today by finding that special spot in your home that will be your "sanctuary" with the Lord.

I know your heart is already questioning:
"What should this space be?"  
"Where should it be?"

1. Begin by simply, slowly and intentionally, walking through your home.  


2. Focus your inner being to already "tune in" to the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ask the Lord to show you where He would like to meet with you.

Is there any place that is drawing you?

It may be a place you are already using.

Or it may be a space you would never thought of before.
  
4. When you have found the spot, consider:


 ...do I need to rearrange it?
...add some things to it?
 ...how can I make it special? 

Make it attractive and appealing, someplace you look forward to enjoying.  This doesn't need to take any money.  Move things that you like or even cherish into the spot.  Make a little "still life" arrangement.

5. Ask yourself what you might need, physically speaking, in order to set time aside to "rest in Him".  (A timer?)  A fine teacup that you reserve for special occasions?  A soft throw to signal you mind "this is a restful space".
 

When you have this space set up and set aside...
                  celebrate a job well done!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

20 C + M + B 16 - Making Ephiphany A Personal Tradition


Do you observe Epiphany?

Coming from a liturgical church foundation in childhood, I miss some of the ways the church year marks time...today is Epiphany,  a day that we can learn more about and how to use it to be more aware of Jesus in our lives...it is the time when Christ is revealed to the world!


Epiphany is the day that liturgical churches observe the visit of the wise men to baby Jesus...their simple desire to worship the King is the precursor to  serious outbursts in the hearts of those who should have been lovers of God, but weren't.  Epiphany celebrates the fact that Jesus came for all people as the Holy Family accepted the worship of Gentiles/foreigners.  Foreigners bowing before the new king shows that God offers the Messiah to the whole world, not to just one race or nation. 


Read Matthew 2:1-12 to get the full story!

(Another interesting fact - the 12 Days of Christmas is really the 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany...the song itself was a code which persecuted Christians used to continue to worship and adore their King and can be used to remember to pray for the persecuted church in today's time.)

In modern times, some people observe a tradition passed on since the second century.  It is called "Chalking the Door".  Over the main entrance into the home, a designated member of the family writes the first two numbers of the new year, then C + M + B, and finally the last two numbers of the new year.  For this year, if you want to adopt this simple practice, you would write:


20 C + M + B 16

Finally, all gathered pray a prayer of blessing over each person living in the home and entering in during the year...


The letters C, M, and B are the first letters of each word in the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat—"Christ, bless this home". We want the blessing of Christ, the peace and joy and love of the God-Man— to fill our home, to fill our hearts, to be the very air we breathe as we go about our daily work.


The letters are also a call—because C, M, and B are the initials of the Wise Men whose names, according to tradition, were Caspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. These men left all they knew and held dear to follow a star—because they believed that what they’d find would surpass all they were leaving behind.  The initials over the door remind us to be like the Magi—so we write their initials on our door to remind us, each time we come into our house, of our desire, our intention to follow the Light.

Here is what other have said about their "chalking the door" tradition:
When I see those letters (and I confess, I often pass beneath them, oblivious of their presence, their call), but when I remember to pay attention and I actually see them, I say a prayer: “Help me, Jesus, to see you.Help me to hear you. Help me to follow you.”


In this daily following, we become the magi, answering the call of the star in our small way—and so, by the grace of God, we become the answer to our prayer that Christ would bless our home and all who enter.


Around the world there are different ways to observe the tradition.  Many wear crowns, carry stars, and sing and pray as they move through their neighborhoods, chalking the doors.  In Germany celebrants sing Segen bringen, segen sein (Bring the blessing to be a blessing). 



How can you make this tradition your own?  Consider the wise men and their journey...take different aspects of their story and personalize it:

1.  Stars are used to navigate at night.  Is there a place of darkness, of not knowing, in your life that needs the light of Jesus to shine into it?  Is there already a direction that you have been pointed in, but the journey must be all by faith?

2. Take the journey, even amidst the unknowns. The star speaks to a need to trust that the end will be good and full of His presence!

3.  Be open to joy and wonder, even (especially?) in the dark times.  The wise men were full of joy when they saw the star (Matthew 2:10).  What treasures of joy and wonder might the Lord be trying to give you when you are journeying in the darkness?

4.  Give out of your gifts that you carry with you!  The wise men's gifts represented that they understood who Jesus was.  Each gift reflected different aspects of Jesus' ministry and personhood...the gold represented His deity, the myrrh represented His anointing as the Messiah, and frankincense represented His priestly intercession for all mankind.  How can you give out of your gifts and reflect Jesus to those you come across?





What other insights for your life can you gain from the visit of the Magi?


Resources for Further Insight
https://www.rca.org/resources/reclaiming-epiphany 
http://jodythomae.com/2015/01/06/create-a-day-your-daily-dose-of-creativity-edition-3/
http://deeperstory.com/becoming-the-magi/
Abbey of the Arts Newsletter