Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thirsty...

I loved the look of the morning waters on the leaves of the patch of vinca in my garden the other morning...and when I looked at the photos, the word that came to mind was:  THIRSTY.

I am thirsty for Him, for His Spirit...


For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants...
Isaiah 44:3 NASB
 
To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life...
Revelation 21:6


Processing: I used Kim Klassen's new texture "August End - Appreciate" at soft light blend mode; it gave the image the perfect lightening to adjust the exposure of the image.  I made a new layer and blurred it, then masked a square to let the lower layer peak through.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Where God's Love Leads...Looking at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (part 2)

 After our first week of "back to homeschool", I am back to Monday posts!

We've been looking at the idea of leading to repentance and love, and how this leading is an act of true grace...




Today we will look at the idea of "reproof" as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB):
 
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable...for reproof...

What is your 'gut' reaction when you read that word "reproof"?  Do you feel the cringe of criticism?  The flush of guilt?  A feeling of never being enough or of wrongdoing?  Do you feel a sense of security and peace, knowing that a correction to keep you from danger has been offered?  This word is also translated: 

rebuke - HSCB
correction - ISV, Douay-Rheims Bible, others
pointing out errors - God's Word Translation
 conviction - Darby Bible Translation
convincing - Weymouth New Testament
to make us realize what is wrong in our lives - New Living Translation 

Wait, the shame and disgrace didn't come till later?  Criticism for a fault became part of its definition in the 14th century?  I wonder...could it have meant something else before the Middle Ages; as in when the original Apostles were ministering and writing what was to become the New Testament?

Remember how in the first post of this series, that God's love and His kindness are what leads to repentance?  What if "reproof" was originally a "love language" - and the definition has been distorted over the years.  What if...we have cringed over this word when we might have leaned into Him to hear His heartbeat?  What if love shown a light into the dark - hard to see, impossible to see - places...and shown so much light there that what is needed to bring correction (think healing) is plain to see?  Like a doctor taking an x-ray to see where the damage is in order to do precise, targeted surgery. 

According to Thayer's Lexicon of the Greek language, the word translated "reproof" does carry such a meaning...elegchō: by conviction to bring to light, expose...   

Can you envision the Great Physician shining His x-ray light into the areas of your life in order to show where  - the break, the tumor, the tear, the foreign particle - is that is causing problems?  And He is gentle and kind, inviting you to take a look, to perhaps agree, and then to embark on a plan of treatment together.  And since the Physician has such a bedside manner, He encourages His helpers to have a like spirit:


But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.
 


If reproof comes as a life giving light, and with gentle instruction, I believe I could be convinced to change my thinking, my direction, and let Him change my heart...wouldn't you?

Till next time, abundant blessings to you...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Exploring Circles - Bringing Focus, Bringing Containment - part 4 {Paths to Healing}...

 Today we will look at the circle as a tool to help us mentally focus...

Circles on my grocery list so I am SURE to get those items...
Circles as a way to narrow our attention, or draw it towards a certain point, is so common, so instinctive, that we may not even consider the act of circling as a tool to help us work through strong emotions, calm a feeling of anxiety or as a way to diffuse racing thoughts.  For example, I am a note taker - I take notes in the books I am reading; I continue to use spiral notebooks to record my own thoughts and the quotes and instructions I want to especially remember from the books I read.  And to help me find, once again, the really good things - I circle them...sometimes the line is more
rectangular, but still I have encircled the portion I want to be able to find again - and that serves as a way to draw my attention, my focus, to that portion I know I will be coming back to.

So - it could be said that circles can be used to help remember, recognize, and reorder!

Let’s move into some exercises using circles to help one focus:

1.       Exercise one:  Recognizing importance – using circles to relieve anxiety over being over-scheduled:  using paper and pen/pencil, make a list of all the things you need to attend to on the next day.  Try to limit what you write to just a word or a short phrase, for instance: laundry, dr. apt. at 2 pm, call _____, order ______, etc.   Also, try to get the day’s list finished within five minutes.  Write as fast as you can, not worrying about spelling or punctuation.  At the end of five minutes (or sooner) go back through the list and circle the 5 that have the highest importance and then number those 5 in order of importance.  Do not overthink this and do not spend more than another 5 minutes on this part of the exercise.  You may not finish your entire list on the next day, but if you focus on your top 5, you will most probably accomplish them, and have the satisfaction This is a great way to prioritize items that do not already have a set time and to quickly relieve a sense of overwhelm or anxiety about “having too much to do”.  You can adopt this principle for other issues that are causing anxiety for you.

2.      Exercise two: Reordering scattered or racing thoughts/emotions – Does just reading those last four underlined words make your stomach do a little flip flop?  Did you brain just go…somewhere?  Many of our “normal” days can be so high stress that just thinking or imagining more stress or chaos can send us there!  So this exercise will be a great one to put in your toolbox of self-calming tools – and…it can be done anywhere, at the office, waiting for children at soccer practice, watching TV with the family, even in your quiet time if needed.  Draw a four to six inch circle on a piece of paper you have handy.  This becomes a container for those ambiguous feelings or racing thoughts.  Now, within the circle, color or doodle…there is no right or wrong here.  But just to get you started, consider:

Miss Sweet Tweener was a little heavy with the color!



Color concentric rings, starting at the line you drew and working towards the center.


Divide the circle into parts using straight lines, 
then fill in each space with a different doodle (this is very much like Zentangle)...so here is a link to some different Zentangle patterns.



You could even doodle or write over the watercolor or colored pencil...


Make large "scribble" lines, then color each space or doodle in each space.


Draw, color, or paint an image of a peaceful place (to you) within the boundary of the circle.


Write words that you need to be peaceful within the circle, or
write just one word that calms you and embellish it with designs and/or color.




When you finish, note how you are feeling - emotionally.  Write down how you feel someplace near your circle.  Note any clarity, new ideas, or creative solutions to problems you have been having as well.

3.   Exercise three - a) circles as simple containers for memories or b) temporary containers for racing or intrusive thoughts - Use this little exercise (really another form of exercise 2) to quickly capture the events of a day or to dump racing thoughts.

a)  Draw a circle an inch or two in diameter, then draw an image or write a word or two describing something you want to remember.  The act of making the circle narrows the mind's focus, and the most important events are what emerge in the forefront of your thinking...making it simpler to choose which events to record!  Don't forget to date your page...
A little watercolor wash behind my brief journaling circles.
 b) In the case of racing or intrusive thoughts, write enough words to capture the thought, using one circle for each thought.  Do this for as many thoughts as needed.  It is OK to write outside the lines!  Notice how the circles act as a containment vessel for the thought, and that the feeling of calm increases as each thought is expressed and contained.  You might even consider folding this paper in half and tucking it in a safe place as a metaphor that you are tucking these thoughts away in a safe place in your mind until there is a good time to continue processing them.  Sometimes just the expression is all that is needed to diffuse troubling thinking; sometimes more processing is needed. This is a tool to bring control and calm and containment till a more convenient time to address the thoughts, not to bury toxic thoughts indefinitely (which would be unhealthy).


Also, in using art for healing, one isn't necessarily trying to produce an art masterpiece, but a heArt masterpiece, so "proper" art technique isn't as important as the process itself.  This is the time to "let go", experiment, and relax!

Linking with my "In the Studio" friends again...here...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stolen Moments...

In my garden after a morning shower...
Processed with Kim Klassen's Culligan Scripted texture...
and linking with the other Texture Tuesday artists...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Exploring Circles - techniques post - {Paths to Healing}...

Here it is - tricks, tips and techniques I have already learned in making this little meandering book...it will be a bit long, so enjoy!  {You can see the first 3 posts here, here, and here.}  Also, if you read or scroll to the end of this post, you will find links to downloadable images in 8" x 10" and 4" x 4" sizes.


First - tho' the book I was using as inspiration was small, approximately 4" x 4" and I thought that would be big enough, now I certainly wish I had an 8" x 8" book to work in (I would have to bind the edges with decorative tape or in some other manner, which could be cute and add another dimension of design)...or perhaps not even do a "meandering book", but just a straight forward art journal, such as the Amazing 16 page journal by Teesha Moore (part 1 here and part 2 here).  Next journal will be an Amazing 16 page one!

Second - REMEMBER, when doing the meander book, to think through how the pages open and plan your pages in advance.  I used a pencil to lightly mark page numbers in the lower corners help me remember the direction each would turn next.

Third - I am playing around with watercolors this year...I read - somewhere in all the free online tutorials I have found in searches - that you only need 3 colors, and you can mix what you need from those...but for myself, I am currently still borrowing from sweet tweener's school watercolors:


Prussian Blue
Burnt Sienna
Yellow Ochre

There is a crimson red that came with
the set that I have used in this project
when the Burnt Sienna doesn't give me
the color I want.






Fourth - I am approaching this more like a sketch book than a finished art product...so I am experimenting right in the little book.  If you want yours to be more of a finished art piece, you might want to practice a scraps first, until you find the technique you want to use in each page.


Page One
I used a compass to lightly draw a circle to mark where I wanted to add water for a wet on wet technique, then I placed a "load" of each of my main three colors into the pre-wetted paper at 3 different points near the outer edge of the circle, then used the brush to guide the colors towards the center, letting them mingle freely as they chose.  White space leaves the piece looking organic and light - the imperfection of it lending a natural look and helping to heal my need to be perfect!  The imperfect is so inviting...in relationships as well as art...


But, there is something to be said for a little planning, as well.  Especially when it comes to word placement.  Again, using a light touch with a soft pencil lead, I sketched in the words around the outer edge of the circle, erasing and re-writing several times until the spacing of letters and white spaces fit...then I wrote over the top with my micron 01 pen.  Finally I erased the pencil marks after waiting for the ink to dry a couple of minutes.

Here is a "wet on wet" tutorial I've watched and liked...

Page 2
 
Here I was trying to do a watercolor wash with one color, fading from darker to lighter with a mask over the trefoil I had transferred onto the page.  I couldn't find my masking fluid (did sweet tweener borrow that?) Well, she couldn't find it either...so I improvised and painted some gel medium over the trefoil area so the watercolor would just wipe off.  After the gel medium dried, I did the wash - the gradation isn't all that obvious, but it looks nice I think, just one color.  I just used a paper towel wrapped around my finger to wipe away the color from the trefoil area.  (I like Viva because it doesn't leave behind traces of paper).  I also have started using up my soft knit recycle rags which also do not leave lint behind.  I could still see - lightly - the lines from the tracing and they would no longer erase because of the gel medium, so I painted a light layer of white acrylic over the gel medium and that gave me the less defined look I wanted.

Page 3

I wanted to play more with blending the colors, so I painted each arc with one of my 3 main colors.  Use your palette to add water to your color till you get it to a nice transparency.  Then I painted the color straight onto the dry page.  After I had laid all the colors down, I wet my brush more, and pulled the water around the points of where colors intersected to blend the transitions even more...when color went over the lines into the white area, I just added more water at that point and dabbed the wet color up with my lint free cloth...just experimenting with removing watercolor from the paper, too!  I haven't decided how to add words to this page, or even if I want to - I like it in its simplicity right now.



Page 4

Ahhhh fun!  Wet the page with clean water, paint a strip of prussian blue along the bottom and with new clean wet brush, pull the color up towards the center...then paint a strip of burnt sienna along the top, clean and wet the brush again and pull the paint towards the center - don't touch the blue, let the colors move towards one another on their own and mingle...and the surprise was the yellowish result in the middle!  I guess the blue didn't reach up very far, and the burnt sienna separated into the pigments that make it up...!  I messed up the fish symbol a little - just couldn't find those light lines.  I "saw" this classic Christian icon as I was working with the trequeta...and the implied two circles could represent heaven/God and the other earth/man...and their intersection the joining of the two through the experience of being "born again"...  


A little blurry, but you can see the entire page...


Template for 4 inch by 4 inch designs
8 inch by 10 inch circle
8 inch by 10 inch trefoil
8 inch by 10 inch trequeta
8 inch by 10 inch cross with circle

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exploring Circles - post 3 - {Paths to Healing}...

Last week we took a look at the idea of circles - a basic definition, in Scripture, and by implication how characteristics of the circle can represent some of God's characteristics.  I briefly looked at how simple observation of the sun, moon and stars and other objects in nature can give rise to the circle being used as a metaphor for human experience.  Because circles are observable in nature, there has grown a "universal" list of circle symbolism, including:

*  Inclusion  *  Wholeness  *  Focus  *  Unity  *  Nurturing  *  Cycles  *  Initiation  *  Everything  *

     *  Perfection  *  Womb  *  Centering  *  Revolution  *  Infinity  *  Mobility  *  Completion  *

                                         *   Protection  *  Continuation  *  Eternity  * the Soul  *
 
It is an easy concrete rendering to use in trying to explain ideas that are more abstract.  This is perhaps the very reason why so many cultures and belief systems have adopted the circle to represent a wide variety of concepts.

When you go searching online, you will come across many sites making many claims about what the circle represents.  As we continue to look at some of the metaphors that a circle can portray, and use them in healing art or journaling with greater understanding, it is my desire that you remember that the circle originated with the Creator Himself, and regardless of the belief system or movement that has adopted the circle and given it some meaning, the true origin of the circle is with the God of the Bible...

Remember the first circle going on the cover of my book?  Here is a little "circle" information that I had come across (and if you have been following me this year, you know I have been researching Japanese/Chinese ink painting and the creation story of Genesis embedded in the Chinese language) so I was naturally drawn to this entry in my Google search:

Ensō is a Japanese word meaning "circle". Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanesecharacter. It symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an "expression of the moment" it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.
calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a

In Zen painting, ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle is usually done on silk or rice paper in one movement and there is no possibility of modification: it shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists "believe that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ensō. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō. Some artists will practice drawing an ensō daily, as a kind of spiritual practice."


I am drawn to the idea of "mentally and spiritually completeness" juxtaposed to the imperfection of the enso...the texture, the scraggly lines, the rough perfection.  The shape of the circle still there in all its pristine beauty, representing the eternal nature of God, and I am reminded of this verse:
...and in Him {Christ} you have been made complete...Colossians 2:10 NASB
My imperfection, my failures - made perfect and complete through my union with Jesus, as His perfect life is written over my messy one...and all this can be conveyed in the simple formation of the circle.

And then I was surprised with other versed of completion that came up in my search, like:
And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.  Ephesians 1:23 NLT
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,  make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.   Hebrews 13:20-21 King James 2000 Bible
For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.  Job 23:14 ESV 
Now, imagine an exercise done daily, along with your quiet time, your art journaling or putting pencil to paper - and a simple meditation of drawing a circle while remembering one of these scriptures, remembering that we are made complete and whole through our union with Jesus...only a moment, but one that concretely connects us with our Creator...a beautiful thought!

Tomorrow I will share some of the techniques I promised earlier, some lessons I have already learned (technique wise) and the book so far...but here is a teaser picture...


   Just a snapshot to capture the first two pages


Monday, August 12, 2013

Where God's Love Leads...looking at 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Last week I talked a little about how our perception of God colors our desire and readiness to go to Him when we are struggling...
This week I want to dive a little deep into a familiar passage of Scripture - one that maybe your children have even memorized - and yet you may not think of it as one of those places that reflect the deep kindness of God that leads us into repentance, because this is the path to healing of the soul(!) ...it is 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. NASB
I memorized these two verses under a program that used it as a "proof" text for the fact that God is the One who is truly behind the writing of Scripture, and that the Bible is the only inerrant source of information...BUT, I was never taught about the foundations of soul care and inner healing that it contained! That is, not until I was in my master's level program for counseling! And now, today, free of charge {smiling}, I will share this immense insight with you!  And I hope it continues to transform your thoughts about helping a person bring forth their sins to a point of repentance, because of the true healing and love that repentance produces! Here we go....

There are four activities specifically mentioned that the Scripture profits us in...
teaching
reproof (or rebuke or conviction -
depending on your translation)
correction
training in righteousness 

In my Bible I have notes written by this verse...that:  

1 - teaching is a judging activity: this is NOT the kind of judging that Christians are exhorted NOT to do to others (judge not, lest you be judged); which has an implication of condemnation or punishment, but judging in the sense of discerning what is correct and what is incorrect.  In fact, the word translated "judge" in 1 Corinthians 6:3 (krinō), originally meant "separate." So Homer, of Ceres was separating, krino, the grain from the chaff (Iliad, v, 501). Thence, the word means 'to distinguish, to pick out, to be of opinion, to judge'. John 7:24 commands us to "NOT judge (krino) by appearances, but to judge (krino) with righteous judgment".  In other words, don't use our own personal preferences or opinions to judge a situation as right or wrong or even if another is acting appropriately or not; righteous judgement comes from the word of God.  So we are to judge according to what the Scriptures say.  And how do we learn how to accurately use the Scripture?  Through being taught by wise and seasoned teachers of the Word.

Teaching is sometimes an overlooked part of any act of correction - in our culture it is important to make sure our definitions are the same as the person's we are talking to.  This small act of clarification is a form of learning/instruction.  Perhaps the person in need of correction has never been taught a certain segment of Scripture that speaks directly to their issue.  What a relief and joy springs to their heart and mind when they know what God has expressly said!  Sometimes we in Christian circles forget that others, even in this great country of ours, have never read the Bible or heard certain segments of it.  Or perhaps they have heard some good teaching and then some contradictory argument, and subsequently have abandoned trying to find the truth.  These gentle hearts are in need of encouragement and help. 


In the counseling room, this act of teaching is indispensable.  Frequently a little instruction and a little discipleship (teaching the counselee how to study the Word and hear God on their own) is all that is required for their lives to get on track.

Parents can discipline their children for acts of misconduct when the parent has never instructed the child in what correct behavior is.  Somehow that very important step has been overlooked; we think that children will just assimilate from thin air what is right to do and then do it!  A good parenting tip is to do a self check when you find yourself starting to get angry at your children, and make sure that they truly understand what was expected of them.  Even if you are confident that you have taught them properly before the current indiscretion, it is always a good idea to take the opportunity to repeat the instruction in proper behavior to make sure they understand.  THEN, once you are sure they understand and they have still misbehaved, your well thought out consequences will be much more effective!

Our heavenly Father knows that  we are as children - and being a perfect parent, He doesn't hesitate to repeat instruction until we "get it"...one of the ways that His kindness leads us to repentance, the turning from wrong behavior to right...

Well, I originally thought I would get through this entire passage in one day, but as this one segment is getting quite long, I will stop here and do a deeper look into the section of "reproof" or "conviction" next week!

I love hearing from you; your thoughts and additional points to the topic!  Blessings...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Exploring circles - post 2 - {Paths to Healing}...

As promised, the first installment of research, prompts and peaks into my exploration of the simple circle.  As you can imagine, there are many meanings attached to the circle, and therefore many symbolic uses that we might use in our creations.

First, the research, beginning with the most basic, technical definition:
A circle is a simple closed curve which divides the plane into two regions: an interior and an exterior. In everyday use, the term "circle" may be used interchangeably to refer to either the boundary of the figure, or to the whole figure including its interior.

There are many meanings to the circle.  Having neither beginning nor end, the circle has long been a symbol - across time and cultures - of eternity, wholeness, protection, and unity.  I found this thought from a native American medicine man, and it seemed to capture the sentiments of many:


From this example we can discern that the circle's symbolism has mostly been derived from the circles that can be found in nature, and therefore, may be totally subject to the interpretations of the individual who is doing the observing!

However, I want to begin with exploring what might be discerned about the circle from the Scripture:
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.   Isaiah 40:22 NASB
Clouds veil Him so that He cannot see, as He walks on the circle of the sky.      Job 20:22:14 HCSB
He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness.   Job 26:10 NASB

These scriptures reference the creation itself, whether it is the heavens or the earth; their spherical shape giving the discernible edge of a circle.  The circle became a symbol for God Himself because it was so evident in the largest objects of creation (earth, sky, moon, stars and planets) and perhaps even more so because of the idea that a circle has no beginning and no end, a reference to infinity, or even more specifically, it represents eternity; each concept reflects the everlasting nature of God:
  He has no beginning and no end
He is inifinite
He is eternal
(Jude 25; Isaiah 57:15; Psalms 90:2)

and He desires to share that eternity with us: 

You might guess that I tend towards the "scholarly" (because of the teacher gifting), and to spare you the work if you are not bent that way, but to offer the resource; click here for a wonderful treatise on God, Time, and Eternity.

The circle as the perfect representation of God probably was cemented during the Renaissance, as it conformed to their thoughts about God.  Renaissance thinkers considered the circle and sphere as "perfect" shapes; and God took the form of the sphere to create the earth, and therefore everything pertaining to man; spirit, mind and matter - which in turn was represented by three descending concentric circles

I wanted the cover of my book to hold a simple circle - I haven't added a title yet - I am unsure if I want to!  I will probably cover over this with clear drying gel medium to give it added protection and strength:


I wanted to form the circle in one motion, without lifting the paintbrush.  I did twist the brush as I went around.  I wanted to use purple paint, because purple is the color of royalty in Christian liturgical symbolism - I even mixed my own purple, hoping for blues and reds to show up in the finished circle...it did take me a while to decide on this (!), but next week's post will explain some of why I went in this direction...

I used some rice paper I had on hand - it took the acrylic paint quite well I think!  I have to apologize here for not being more progressed on my own book, but I have been painting in Sweet Tweener's room; turning it from young girl to young lady...pictures will be coming soon!
http://1234christmas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/chrismon-trefoil.png
 This symbol is called the "Trefoil" and is a representation of the trinity, showing each is eternal in nature and equal to the other members of the Godhead - the trefoil has been used since the 1300s to represent the Trinity (the early beginnings of the Renaissance)...

You can download this pattern here.

 I will be placing one of these on the second page of my book...





http://1234christmas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/chrismon-triumphantcross.png


This is the "Triumphant Cross" - the cross placed over the world.  It symbolizes Jesus as triumphant over anything we face in the world.

Download here.






        
http://1234christmas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/chrismon-triquenta.png





The "Triquerta" is the interlocking parts of the three intertwined circles...they form a stylized triangle, whose three sides also have been used to represent the Trinity for hundreds of years.

Download here.









Your prompt: Choose one of these circular forms for your own book or journal. Include some of the scriptures I have included today, or find your own...make this exploration so very much yours!  I promise I will be back with more of these before next week, to show some different techniques...


More scriptures to use that reflect the Trinity:   Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Revelation 1:4-5