Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lenten Art Journal and Devotion - Water Rescue

It may be snowing this morning, but today's word prompt is "water."  In Isaiah 43 I read God's promise -
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.  

This past summer, my husband, 5 year old daughter, and I took our canoe to the Rappahannock River.  We've been out in the canoe together before, but not on this particular stretch of river. Since we grabbed a ride to a drop off point with a service, we were required to watch their safety video.  It was all the standard stuff - wear a life jacket, what to do if you turned over, etc.  Of course they showed people in pretty rough waters to emphasize the need for safety.  Well, Hannah, we didn't realize, had intently watched the video and was pretty nervous.  The stretch of water we went on was pretty rocky and the water was low in a few places, creating rapids over the rocks.  When my husband and I conversed back and forth with, "Can we make it through there?" we meant, "Is this the best path for our canoe?" Hannah's interpretation of that question was, "Will we survive/make it through alive????"  Poor girl. She was scared.  Once we realized her fear, we prayed for God to keep us safe and reassured her that daddy and mama had experience in river canoeing.  We wouldn't let her come to harm and we would all keep safe together.  We tried to look at each run through a rapid like a little adventure ride.  But the fear of the unknown - those images of people dumping into rapidly rushing white water from the video - that was overtaking her thoughts.  As we navigated our way down the river we came to one more section rushing over large rocks and, yep, we dumped.
Hannah did exactly what she was supposed to do. I tried to gain my footing and grabbed onto her as she floated past me.  She grabbed on to me, too.  Except I was facing down and she kept pulling my face in the water.  In a matter of seconds, I felt my body being pushed up and I regained my footing and sat my daughter down on a rock.  My husband saw what was happening and had pushed us both up.  We were drenched, but fine.  We had to spend a few minutes catching and emptying the canoe of water, but we were able to get back in and navigate safely down to the spot where our car was parked.  And you know what? Hannah wasn't scared anymore. The fear of the unknown was gone. She had passed through the waters and the river didn't sweep us away.  Her daddy had saved her.  It was a wonderful lesson and experience.  The unknowns in life are scary, but they don't have to take over our thoughts.  We can rest calmly in the knowledge and promise that our Father will and has saved us.  Earlier in Isaiah, at 43:1, we hear Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  He cares for us personally. He has sent a Savior for his people in Jesus Christ. That day on the river, we were reminded first hand how real and present our God is as we passed through the waters.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lenten Art Journal

I wanted to share here the last few days of my Lenten art journal.   Though the output for each day is a completed piece of art, the process is the most meaningful part. I begin with each day's word prompt (from the list published by Catholic Sistas HERE). I prayerfully consider the word prompt and begin searching scripture for a verse that speaks to my heart.  The verse usually inspires the approach I take to the page.  My intention is to pray and meditate on the scripture as I work. Of course sometimes my thoughts stray, but then I just pause and refocus. It's been a blessing to spend time in the Word and then respond to it and interact with it in a creative way.  I pray that my sharing also blesses and inspires others.

Day 6 - Fortitude
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.
I used a fine-tip Sharpie pen for all the lettering and doodling.  I then used my fingers and some of my daughter's finger paint to cover the page in blue.

Day 7 - Desert
Isaiah 43:9 - I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Our God can bring bounty our of all our deserts!
For this page, I started with the background and created a very rough image of sky, stream, and desert using acrylic paint.  The I AM and WAY are stamped and the other lettering is Sharpie marker.

Day 8 - Kindness
Colossians 3:12-13 - Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
I cut (with Cricut) and traced the ribbon template, outlined it in marker and colored with watercolor pencils.  The yellow background is stamp ink.

So grateful that our kind Father led me to this verse today.  I'm having a hard time being kind and patient and forgiving and this is a wonderful prayer for me to repeat, asking God to help me to be kind despite the unkindness of others, humble and patient when others aren't, and to recognize my own faults and need for forgiveness just as I ask God to help me to forgive even when there is no apology.  I think this page will remain open on my desk for awhile.  Be blessed!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lenten Art Journal Day 4

Today's word prompt is confession.  Rather than reliving my gradeschool memories of going to confession (bless me, Father, for I have sinned...) I was instead brought to Philippians 2:9-11 and our Christian confession of faith.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus was not simply a man or prophet.  He is the Son of God, truly God and truly man.  Amen!

The artsy stuff: acrylic paints for the background - applied with a card; color drops (white and tan) with Mr. Huey's color mists.  Stamped and embossed "confess" other words with black Sharpie.  Green sequins.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenten Challenge - Day 3 Art Journal

Today's word prompt is suffering. There is so much suffering in this world.  We see and witness it in the world and we experience it in our own lives.  We can be weighed down by so much pain - physical, emotional, spiritual.  My 6 year old daughter's devotion last night talked about life sometimes not being fair.  It encouraged her to remember that when life seems unfair to our hearts, that we change our focus and choose to look at how we've been blessed - not how we've been "cheated."  In my own devotion this morning I came to 1 Peter 5:10 - And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  These words provide me, and you, with so much hope.  God knows all we suffer.  It pains Him to see us suffer.  Sometimes God does take away that pain, but more often He does something perhaps even more miraculous.  He takes that suffering and uses it to draw us closer to Him and to make us into someone new and improved. He uses our suffering to improve and refine our character.  He himself restores us.  He himself confirms us.  He himself strengthens us.  He himself establishes us. No, suffering is not something we choose for ourselves and it's not the life God wants for us either, but He knows how to handle it.  Today this verse reminded me that my suffering and any pain that I keep trying to process on my own belongs in the hands of the one who can handle it and has promised to handle it.  My own human heart will try to turn suffering into bitterness, but giving it over to God will allow Him to turn it into something beautiful.  May the God of all grace take all our pains and sufferings - the physical hurts, the losses, the rejections, the doubts - and refashion them to reflect His glory.  Amen

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Journaling Throught Lent

We are in the season of Lent and this year I've again been inspired by the daily word prompts offered by and their Lenten Photo a Day Challenge.  You can find the list and their post explaining the Lenten journey HERE.
I prepared a notebook and my intention was to take a photo a day, post to instagram and write a short devotion as I did last year, but I was led in a different direction once I started.  Instead of the notebook housing my photos, I am creating an art journal entry based on a scripture reference inspired by the word of the day and wherever my own devotions lead me.  As I personally spend this time with the Word, I pray that my art and reflections will bless and inspire others to search scripture as well.  Lent is a journey.  A chance to refocus, reset your gaze, and move closer to the cross.  Here are my first two entries.

Day 1 - symbol.
Reflecting on the symbol of ashes, I used some of the ashes from our fireplace to draw the cross and smudge the page.
The verse is Joel 2:13 - Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

Day 2's word prompt was prayer.  This verse from Psalms spoke to me.  
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1

I didn't realize how much these two verses complemented each other until I put them together here.  I'm excited to see how God leads me throughout these Lenten devotions.

Blessings, friends!