My “Mess” is My Message

Today I received my copy of Stephanie Ackerman’s latest book Faith Journaling for the Inspired Artist. Did I need another book on Journaling or Art? Well, apparently I did! Not five pages in, the photo to the left smacked me upside the head…kinda crazy, right? Stephanie, among other wonderful women, have encouraged me from afar with their zest for art, an insane love for God, and the desire to intertwine the two.

For the past month, God has really been working on me & my obedience factor… at the forefront has been a host of new cancer challenges…. but those challenges have been the catalyst to realizing I haven’t consistently been giving God my best.  I’ve been giving what’s easy and through numerous experiences… sermons especially ….(thanks Pastor Jim!), I’ve been convicted as to how I’m living my life I’m for God.

Stage IV Cancer, like so many other chronic diseases, is HARD.  It doesn’t go away.period. and more often than not, you get new challenges… like wonky lungs, blood clots, and such.  I am very thankful though – just think if God allowed cancer to hit you with everything all at once? No bueno!

While I thought I’d learned my new normal, I was still entirely too focused holding tightly onto the things I could still do.  Like grocery shopping, housekeeping, or walking the dog… yeah, call it what it is….PRIDE.  Don’t get me wrong, staying active is essential, but holding too tightly onto things is a slippery slope and sets you…me… up for missing great God opportunities.

As it is today, I’m in a season where those types of activities aren’t necessarily adding value to my days. Instead, little things, like going out to the grocery store, have the potential to set me back vs propel me forward.  So I’m learning to choose more wisely and it’s definitely a process!

My 2018 goal (starting now!) is to be more mindful and dig deeper in my relationship with God.  While cancer isn’t exactly what I may have chosen, it has given me the opportunity to focus more time on Him by not trying to balance a demanding and stressful full time job….HE is my full time job…and that is pretty darn amazing – not many get that opportunity!

If you’ve read my blog, the consistent thread has been my lack of consistency in writing. And writing is a big part of my relationship with God…to be vulnerable and transparent, and to share how He leads me daily to walk closer with Him.

If I had to choose ONE thing that propelled me into deepening my relationship with God, it was a little book you may be familiar with called The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. It is a 40-day Christian devotional designed to strengthen marriages.  No, I’m not married – I’m not even dating or in a relationship.  God brought me the book as a dare to strengthen my relationship with Him.  Weird? Odd? Perhaps.  But I hope you will follow me as I share, and possibly help,  precious readers do the same… coming soon… My Love Dare with God.

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God’s Guiding Hand

It’s still mind boggling to me to think back ten years ago….to a time when God was barely on my radar – thankfully, He never lost sight of me!  And I f you asked me five years ago how I expressed my faith, art was the last thing that would’ve come to mind – and yet, here I am today…thriving spiritually by creating and sharing faith art!

As a child (and adult!) I loved to color – it provides such a calming effect – the cares & concerns of everyday life melt away allowing my spirit to quiet and open the door to hearing God.  What started as an effort to help me relax and remain positive through chemotherapy, quickly developed into an untapped passion. Today, I combine my love of God’s Word with fun art supplies like watercolors, markers, gel pens, and my trusty iPad Pro.  

But as much as I enjoy the process of creating faithart, it’s sharing that really makes my heart smile!  I’m so blessed to share God’s promises through both social media and homemade items like bookmarks and small cards.  What does tomorrow hold? Only He knows, and my confidence lies in His Word as I  open myself to learning new ways to share God’s love. 

God’s Mighty Love

My goodness it’s been a busy crazy summer! So different from last year, yet equally insane.  

Last year I was feeling pretty lousy – cancer complications were problematic and I was coming off four weeks of intensive radiation, followed by a case of shingles that landed me in the hospital, all the while planning a wedding!

This year has truly been a great year cancer-wise – I’ve felt great & much more physically active. Over a period of six weeks I made multiple 6+ hr (one way) drives to visit my daughter & family tucked in between a super condensed 4-day trip to California to help pack my sister as she moves forward in her journey there. 

Somewhere in the mix, I overdid (yes, that’s a big DUH!) ….things were going so well… until they weren’t. All of a sudden I was constantly tired, sleeping more, and simple short walks weren’t so simple. A middle of the night trip to the ER revealed I had a blood clot that moved to my lungs – no bueno – especially when you have stage IV cancer. An ambulance ride, meds, days of extremely thorough doctor checks, and I was good to go….slowly!  

When I’m feeling good (aka not constantly reminded of physical limitations), I wanna be like the other kids! I wanna go for brisk walks, water aerobics, long trips, play time with my grandson….but, I’ve got to remember the pace… and be mindful what a blessing that I’m able to do those things! But maybe….just maybe, I do them in moderation so I decrease the risk of setbacks and increase the probability future fun. 

The absolute best part???? It’s so wonderful to feel well enough to spend time expressing faith through art again! Hands down, the Thrive Bible is my all-time favorite  – I love how God speaks to me through the devotions, causing me to often say to myself, “wow! I never thought about it that way!” and to continually be in awe of His Mighty Love for us

Bible Art Journaling – What’s Your Agenda???

It came!  After what seemed like months (actually just a couple of weeks), my journaling Bible arrived!  I must admit…the first night I looked through my new Bible, thinking about which book… which verse… would be the first in my art journaling adventure….those initial feelings…those feelings of making my Bible “ugly” and held me back months ago, came flooding in again….and so I gently laid it on the nightstand for another day.

The next morning I woke with determination to push past unrealistic expectations and just do it…start the art journaling process! After all, I was prepared…I was confident my artwork would be fine – after all, I watched tons of videos, practiced on little projects for months, and while far from talented I felt acceptable.  And so I started…

Michaelangelo? Far from it!!!! Actually, it was kinda close to a mess…kinda like me!

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  • pencil marks (curvy lines) wouldn’t erase, but smeared instead…
  • the ink pen I purchased specifically for journaling bled through; and
  • the distress stain recommended for its translucency was pretty awful bleeding through A LOT ….

so much for that confidence…

 

 

And then a thought hit me last night…what exactly was my motivation in journaling???? Was it to dig deeper into God’s Word? OR… was it to show off?? How much did pride factor into starting this endeavor?????

Although I’m certain digging deeper was a component, my reaction to results revealed something else… in some way could I have been seeking approval or confirmation???  Obviously, there’s still a part of me trying to be good enough for God.  I’m so thankful He uses the simplest things to show me where pieces of my heart lie…

In retrospect, the verse I landed on (Luke 6:45) now speaks volumes…

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…

Earlier this week I was sharing how great it is that God is using Bible journaling as a tool to grow us.  As for my growth and confidence level??? I was reminded where my confidence belongs…in God – not myself! What a wonderful lesson – all from a simple exercise.  My acceptance has nothing to do with art – God cares about my heart.

Bible Art Journaling 101

Last year when I started chemo, I wanted something to do during the 4 hours I was stuck in a chair.  I discovered the concept of bible art journaling on Pinterest.  Convinced I wasn’t artistic and for fear of it looking “ugly,” I couldn’t bring myself to doodle in my bible.

Instead, I opted to start a gratitude art journal. Well, after the first infusion all I did for 4 hrs was pretty much sleep and the art journaling idea defaulted to coloring in bed! I’ve loved coloring since I was a kid…very therapeutic and relaxing! I wanted to combine my love of “Words to Live By”  with coloring, so I found some precious inspirational coloring pages and glued them into my art journal.   I also attempted adding lettering myself, which was ok, but I was more stressed over how they looked vs embracing the message! Sort of misses the point, don’t you think???

Then a great thing happened….my sister-in-law shared a link on Facebook to artist, Joanne Sharpe of Whimspirations- needless to say, my curiosity was peaked! Off to You Tube I went to find tutorials by Joanne – she has the gift if inspiring students to embrace their own handwriting vs trying to imitate someone else…go figure! She makes art lettering FUN! I browsed her blog to discover online classes and decided on her “Share Your Awesome Life” class – it’s been a game changer! It’s liberating, relaxing, and just plain ole FUN! Although I’m still working through the actual lessons, I’ve ventured off to trying things on my own.

For Mother’s Day, I made little ring cards – a good bit of work since I wanted to make TEN! I loved it though…  here are a few… 

Needless to say, my confidence is soaring – not because I’m “good” – I’m confident because I’ve released unrealistic expectations and chosen to embrace allowing God to speak to me through simple artistic expression – it’s pretty cool and highly therapeutic!

I’ve since ordered a journaling bible – it seems bible art journals are all the rage these days!! When I originally considered bible journaling, local stores had them in stock – now? Good luck! I ordered a NIV Journaling Bible through Amazon  a couple of weeks ago and looking forward to the day it arrives! There are loads of examples on Pinterest and tutorials on You Tube

And if you’re thinking “Buying tons of stickers, stamps, papers, etc. doesn’t exactly fit into my budget…”   expressing your faith artistically doesn’t have to be expensive! You can use coloring pencils or crayola markers/highlighters – just like each of our journeys are unique, so is expressing yourself. Start simple, but start…and have FUN –  God is waiting to speak to and through you!!!!

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