The Margins of Melinda Ransdell’s Garden…From the Edge of Her Bible to the Edge of Her Yard

Melinda Ransdell loves scripture and inviting others to engage the Bible through formative practices like Bible journaling.  She and her husband use the practices at their church in the bulletin (what, doodle in the margins of the Sunday order of worship!?  Yes!), with new members and in leadership development, as well as in  confirmation class.

I am inspired to know that one ordinary day Melinda looked at her yard and the neighborhood and realized there was a wonderful ‘margin’ there.  With her scriptural imagination, Melinda began to conceive a peace and prayer garden.  I loved seeing her garden come to life with photos posted on Instagram and Facebook.  I can just see her with coffee in hand, on her back deck, studying scripture, wondering what God might have her do in her ‘margins’ of life.

18320697_623917404473899_8209067510262340007_o

Here is the story, in Melinda’s own words, of how she in-scripted the margins of her back yard.  Melinda explains,

“It’s all about finding peace in the chaos of this busy world we live in.

Very fitting, our garden is situated right off the busiest road in town. We don’t live in a big town but we are a main thorough fare for those heading West out of the capital Dover, DE.

18446829_626475267551446_8677465062414696790_n

Our town Wyoming, DE, is a very quaint little place. All along the main street are beautiful properties with some nice landscaping. When we moved in we had a blank slate so I started thinking about what we could do.

So, like every normal person, I looked on pinterest for inspiration.

My husband and I definitely wanted a sitting area because our front porch is too small for sitting and getting to know our neighbors.

18446898_626475377551435_3386009126903513066_n

That’s what we really wanted to do, get to know the town of Wyoming. A couple years ago we learned from our church district about a ministry called I-neighborhood. It is all about sharing the love of God with the people who live right next door and down the street or work at the local market. We’ve adopted such crazy and busy lifestyles in our society, that sometimes we forget to just take a second to look up and smile at the person ringing up our groceries. Let alone, take the time to intentionally form relationships with those who live right next to us. It’s all about being aware and looking for those opportunities to share God’s love with others. I want to do that by offering a place to sit. That’s how a restful, prayerful, meditative garden came to be. So I began to sketch:

18222181_620404154825224_3512473662005388695_n

I’ve seen lots of Prayer labyrinths before. My church in college had a traveling one visit and the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington has a huge permanent outdoor one. A prayer labyrinth offers a place to slow down, walk, reflect, dwell with God and offer up prayers. Prayer Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years and can be found in some of the oldest Cathedrals. I wanted to offer people the opportunity to quiet their minds, take a rest from the craziness and experience some peace.

18379644_623936434471996_621686576_o

There is also a popular practice I first discovered whole visiting some of the amazing gardens of Charleston, SC, it’s called a Peace Pole. On it reads, “May peace prevail on Earth” in several languages. I love the idea of promoting peace of Earth, especially through a faith that should be all about it.

On pinterest I stumbled upon a couple pictures of community prayer boxes. I love this idea! Giving an opportunity to have someone else offer prayer up for you, too, is supportive and builds community.
Hopefully the town of Wyoming, DE will come and take a rest. Take a moment to still their minds. To see someone cares. And just maybe they’ll also feel the great love God has for them.”

Local metal artist Graydie designed this “At Peace” sculpture.

18426662_623936487805324_1072563266_o

I have no doubt Melinda’s neighbors will definitely find peace the next time they find themselves on the edge!

When I took a glimpse at Melinda’s posts – the ‘resurrection’ story of her Garden’s margins became perfectly clear.  She started with a Bible study in Lent – check out this photo of her garden tablescape…

17098315_592108550988118_3497588235033326599_n

…and look at what it transformed into after Easter:

18157152_618029068396066_3606625939094497010_n

How could she not share this good news in her garden?

Creating Stickers with the Silhouette Cameo

The Silhouette Cameo

What is it?  It’s a software-driven cutting machine that lets you cut your own stickers and die cuts for Bible Journaling (among countless other applications!).

IMG_6555

Can I just say that the people at Illustrated Faith keep getting me deeper into the craft world?!?  Last summer, I heard Shanna Noel talking about printing and cutting images from the Revival Camp digital bible journaling kit with her Silhouette Cameo.  She showed off some adorable, perfectly cut feathers.

My husband surprised me with one for my birthday in August.  It’s a pretty incredible machine.  The only trouble:  Every time I use it, I have to revisit the instructions to remember how it all works!  I’ve written the following tutorial for myself as much as anyone!!!  I was inspired to use the machine again by the “Doodles to Live by Supplement.”

Here’s a step by step guide:

Step 1:  The very first step is to get an image.  Go to the Illustrated Faith Print and Pray Shop (or your favorite spot for digital art) and place an order.  Download the file to your computer.

Step 2:  The Illustrated Faith downloads are often PDFs, which don’t work with the free version of the Silhouette Studio software.  It’s pretty easy to convert a PDF to JPEG.  There are any number of free online image converters that you can find with a simple search.

The Silhouette software can be upgraded to the “Design Edition” for $50.  My understanding is that this edition of the software can handle PDF files.  I haven’t tried it yet.

It’s worth noting that the basic Silhouette software is free regardless of whether you have a Silhouette Cameo or not.  If you don’t have a Silhouette Cameo, it might be worth downloading the software to see how you like it before buying the machine since the software is a huge part of the overall experience.  There’s a bit of a learning curve to the software, but it’s powerful yet relatively simple and easy to use.

Step 3:  Once you have your images and they are in the right format, you can create a new file in Silhouette Studio.  As soon as you open a new file, set the page width to the size of your sticker paper under design page settings…

ss 1

Step 4:  Then open the image in your software.  The particular image I am using was designed to be printed landscape on a regular piece of paper, but when cutting, it helps to leave space for the registration marks. I decided to work with these as two separate portrait pages:  The doodles and the word strips.

redo 1

Step 5:  The next step is to add registration marks to the page.  These are marks on the page that help the cutter know that your page is aligned correctly.  Your image should fit within these marks.  Mine still clearly does not!  I uses the Type 1 registration marks with the default orientation.

redo 3

SS 4

Step 6:  Now that all the key pieces are in place, it is time to cut off part of the image (all the word strips).  Curiously, the Silhouette Studio does not give you the option to crop a picture.  It does have a knife tool, however.  The knife tool works just like a knife:  You drag it across the image and the image is separated at the knife line.  If you hold the “shift” key as you use the knife, you get a nice straight line parallel to the side of your screen.  At first, it’s hard to see that anything changed.  Don’t worry.

As soon as you make the cut, you have to switch back to using the pointer.  (Don’t keep making more cuts!  If you make more cuts by accident, just “undo.”) You will be able to pick up and move part of the image to the side and delete it.  You can move the main image to the middle of the page.

SS 5

Step 7:  Next go to the “Trace” dialogue box; the icon looks a little like a slice of bread with jam.  (See the green arrow.)  First you select the trace area.  Then you choose “Trace Outer Edge.”  Orange lines will appear on the outside edge of the individual pictures.  The orange lines sit on top of the image as a layer, and do not appear when you print the documcent.  The cut lines tell the machine where to cut relative to the registration marks.

redo 4

SS 7

Step 8:  Next you simply print your project.  I have a Brother color inkjet printer.  I used some matte white sticker paper that I picked up at Staples.

ss 9

Step 9:  Place the printed sticker paper onto the cutting mat, which is slightly sticky.

SS 10

Step 10:  Then it’s time to get ready to cut.  Go to the “cut settings” dialogue box and select “cut edge” and “white sticker paper.”

ss 110

ss 12

Step 11:  Once you’ve set the type of paper you are using, the software tells you how to set the Silhouette Ratchet Blade.  There’s a little grey tool that comes with the machine that helps you set the depth of cut.

ss 13

Step 12:  After you put the cutting blade securely back in its spot, you load your mat into the machine.  Make sure that your Cameo is connected to your computer with the USB cable and plugged in.

ss 14

Step 13:  Then the fun begins.  If I were a better blogger, I would take a video of the next step!  It is seriously cool to watch the Silhouette Cameo cut.  One tip:  Leave plenty of room behind the cutter for the mat to come through!

ss 15

And that’s all there is to it!  It’s amazing that the machine can cut through the top layer without going through the sticker backing.  And the best part is that once you’ve gone through the set-up, you can save the project and keep printing stickers again and again.

One more tip:  I also wanted to make stickers from the word strips.  I found that the tracing tool did not work well with this project.  It picked up on the black font, but not the edges of the colorful rectangles.  Not to fear!  There is a solution.  There are drawing tools along the side, which allow you to freehand draw the cut lines.  It’s a little bit tedious to do, but it worked great.  I used a rectangle around the whole thing.  Then I drew one horizontal line and copied and pasted it down the blocks.  Then I drew the smaller vertical lines, sometimes copying and pasting, sometimes just drawing more little lines.  There may be an easier way but this got the job done.

ss 16ss 17

I have the new “Doodles to Live by” devotional kit, the supplemental materials, and some paints.  I can’t wait to get started!!!

IMG_6560

If you are new to the Silhouette Cameo, I hope this quick tutorial helps.  If you have any tips for me, please comment!

 

 

From Crisis to Healing and Wholeness

I had a difficult conversation this past week, I had trouble sleeping for three nights turning it over in my head.  After the third night, I finally drifted to sleep with this Psalm on my mind.

IMG_6546

Have you ever had one of those times in your life where everything that happens to you seems deeply significant and imbued with meaning?

In the morning, I woke up early and travelled to Ellicot City, MD, with some fellow deacons from church. We went to a training session about Stephen’s ministries and learned about help others through seasons of grief.  The presentation was wonderful, but what impressed me most was just the feeling of being in a room filled with over 100 people who wanted to learn how to come along side others who are hurting.

We were given a list of about 30 or so problems that people face in life.  Then we listed how many people we could think of from our church facing these issues.  The keeper of the prayer list at church was in my group, so he had a fairly good idea of identifiable needs.  We counted over 140 for a church with 500 members.  When it hit me that one quarter of the congregation is facing a big challenge in their life, it gives me great compassion for our ministers!  How can they possibly meet such big a need!?!

We learned that when people are in a crisis situation, they stand at a fork in the road:  one path leads to a downward spiral and the other path leads to wholeness and healing.  Companionship is essential in times of crisis so that we don’t lose our way.  A Christian friend comes along side a person in crisis and doesn’t leave.  The purpose of the friendship is to wait with the person in a non-judgmental way and simply listen, just to be there until the situation resolves.  Most of what a person goes through as they weep is personal to them, only the griever can know the pain.  We were told its ok to cry along with a person in crisis:  “Jesus wept.”  The speaker told us that sometimes these situations create a lot of anger within the person and sometimes it gets directed at the caring friend, not to be surprised if it happens.

Getting back to my sleepless nights:  One of the people in the room was a Catholic priest.  A friend told me once that Catholic priests are accustomed to random people coming up to them needing to confess something, after three sleepless nights I felt the need to confess a lack of forgiveness regarding a situation in my life.  It’s a little awkward for me as Presbyterian to do something like this.  I just went and sat near him during a five minute break.  A lady was sitting beside him sharing about the loss of her daughter.  I wasn’t about to interrupt that, so I sat just prayed silently as I sat beside him, and my heart started to burn inside me.  I started to feel better and decided that if he didn’t have time to talk with me it was enough to pray beside him.

But once the lady got up, he turned to me with a gentle and inquisitive glance.  I said that I was have having some trouble with forgiveness.  He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed as if he knew everything that I’d been through.  The words were just what I needed to hear.  He prayed into the start of the next presentation.  And he looked at me with tremendous compassion and love and asked me to repeat after him:  In the name of Jesus, I renounce anger; in the name of Jesus, I renounce unforgiveness; in the name of Jesus, I renounce resentment; in the name of Jesus, I renounce fear; and in the name of Jesus, I renounce control.  And I felt a burden lifted.  I felt closure to a chapter in my life.

In five minutes (plus about two!), the priest comforted a grieving mother and lifted a burden from me, but he didn’t get a stretch break.  How did he do it?

I went home and slept well.

When I went to church today, our minister preached on the passage about the disciples and how they met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but didn’t recognize him.  They asked:  “Were not our hearts burning insides us?”  I thought about the feeling I had as I sat beside the priest the day before.  The pastor shared his own experiences of meeting Christ as he interacted with others.  He shared how a veteran reached out to him and grabbed his hand firmly saying:  “We need help” and how my minister felt Christ’s call to serve veterans with post traumatic stress disorder at that moment.  He shared how we all have moments where we meet Christ in unexpected ways on the road to Emmaus.

In the afternoon, I went to Gettysburg to cheer on a friend who serves as a marshal in the Face of America bike ride from DC to Gettysburg.  Over 140 veterans participate in the ride in bicycles designed for their lost limbs.  I took time to appreciate both the conflict that took place in Gettysburg and also the battles the veterans have fought and continue to fight.  But mostly, I felt energized and inspired by the veterans.  I saw firsthand that its possible for a battlefield to be transformed to a place of camaraderie and for personal crisis to resolve into healing and wholeness.

I am grateful for caring people:  ministers and priests, friends who come along side other in crisis, and a good guy who pushes wounded warriors up the big hills!  Christ is alive!

IMG_6547 (1)

From the Margins of her Bible…to the Margins in America: On the Road with Peggy Buckley Thibodeau

If you follow Peggy Buckley Thibodeau on Instagram (Instagram address: @peggythibodea) or (Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/peggy.thibodeau), then you know she took her love for journaling on a road trip across the southern half of the United States this spring.  I am so inspired by how her love for God in the margins of her Bible – took her across America to our far corners meeting folks along the way!  We loved sharing a bit of her story earlier this year, now, here is an exciting update! Listen to her story in her own words……

Here is the inspiration for the trip. A while back, I joined Home Exchange in hopes of traveling to Europe to paint plein air (outdoor). It hasn’t worked out yet, but certainly ignited major wanderlust in my soul. I would talk about my dreams with my husband. He encouraged me. I figured it would be more practical to start with a US trip. I dreamed of touring the US with my watercolors. He said, “Just do it, honey. Go do what you want to do!” I HAVE THE BEST HUSBAND! I started thinking about how to do it cheaply, and found lots of folks on Youtube that live or vacation in their vans. I did lots of research, bought a good mattress, and some other supplies, and took off with no itinerary. My inner voice was telling me to live out the phrase, “I am a feather on the breath of God.”

 

PeggyFeather

 

The Lord was my constant companion on my trip. I felt His presence everywhere I went, everything I did, every choice I made, every painting I created. The river of living water flows through me! It does not come and go. He is always there. I had times when I would become aware of the guidance I was receiving. I had an experience in Shreveport, La that was a turning point for me. Here is an excerpt from my travel journal on that day: “When I came out of the library, there was a brochure on the ground for the Walter B Jacobs Memorial Nature Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was on Trip Advisor, but I had decided I was in a hurry to get to Edward and Leigh-Ann’s in Fort Worth. When I saw the brochure, I decided to go. I knew it was the Lord’s encouragement to slow down and enjoy nature. I’m so glad I did. On the way there, I kept seeing signs that said “bridge out ahead.” I turned into the nature center about 100 feet before the crashed bridge. I couldn’t believe it! I went off on a short hike through the wildest, greenest, mossiest forest I’ve ever seen. It had a scent different from what I’m accustomed to – earthier and less “green.” You can sense the effects of the swampland. The Louisiana humidity clung to my skin. The afternoon light trickled through the trees in patches. The forest was primordial and dense and wild and I walked through its core. It pulled at me as if I was walking through a web. My breathing slowed and everything got still. I had a revelation that I was rushing my trip, feeling I had to “earn” it by producing paintings. In that forest, I felt my soul relax into a place of rest. I walked out of the forest and back into the world the way one walks out of a cathedral onto the street, knowing the air will be different, and bolstered for whatever may lie ahead.
PeggyShreveport
On Good Friday, I was hiking next to a river in Pueblo, Colorado. It was early in the morning and I was all alone. I looked down at the rocks on the riverbank, and one of them jumped out at me. I picked it up, and it was a pink rock with a white cross on it. It was a gift from the Giver on an important day.
PeggyStone
From before I left until the I got home, everyone I met or told about my trip was calling me brave. I credit my mom, who raised me with the “I am woman, hear me roar” mentality. I also had a promise from my heavenly father that I created this painting to reflect what became my theme verse for the week from the book of Joshua.
PeggyJoshua
 visited 14 states in 29 days, drove 6462 miles, did 64 pages of art, and spent a total of $1571.57 (this includes everything from fixing up the van to arriving home yesterday). I went to these fun places:
Savannah, GA
Valdosta, Ga
Tallahassee, FL
Destin, FL
Pensacola, FL
New Orleans, LA
Lafitte, LA
Baton Rouge, LA
Shreveport, LA
Fort Worth, TX
Granbury, TX
Fredericksburg, TX
Bee Cave, TX
Austin, TX
Lockhart, TX
San Antonio, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Marfa, TX
Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Taos, NM
Pueblo, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
Garden City, KS
Lawrence, KS
Nashville, TN
I learned some stuff, had grand adventures, met interesting people, and had fun making art while seeing part of this amazing and gorgeous country.
One of my favorite places was New Mexico – and I love the paintings I enjoyed doing in the landscape there!
PeggySantaFe4PeggySantaFe3PeggySantaFe1PeggySantaFe
People have asked me my favorite places, and I have a couple that stand out. One of them is the state park surrounding the St. Mark’s Lighthouse in Crawfordsville, Florida. I sat on a bench under huge palm trees sketching the lighthouse. Three crows perched in the fronds above my head, talking to me as I painted. I was totally alone on thousands of acres of pristine swampland. There were white water lilies dotting the water surrounding me as far as I could see. It was magical in a way that is hard to describe.
PeggyLighthouse
When you sit out in nature, painting a reflection of what the Creator has made, it forces you to take the time to truly appreciate where you are in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise, For each painting I created, I remember the weather, the scents, the animals, the colors – the whole experience is cemented down in my innermost being.
I also loved the River Walk in San Antonio… who doesn’t?!
PeggyRiverWalk
Another favorite place was Twin Falls in Austin, TX. I walked through the woods and fields of yellow wildflowers and bluebonnets and butterflies to arrive at Twin Falls. If it sounds idyllic, well… ummm…. that’s because it is. All this is right in the middle of the city on Austin’s greenbelt, a system of trails that winds through the city next to the river. When you see cars parked on the frontage road, there’s a trailhead nearby. That’s me jumping into the river! The water felt wonderful. It reminded me of the Mountain Dew commercial from the 70’s.
PeggyRiverJump
Here’s my depiction of the falls in my journal:
   PeggyFalls
The most important tool for me is the waterbrush. I use the aquash by Pentel. Don’t be seduced by cheaper brands, as they suction dirty water back into the well. But the thing I most appreciated was my toolbag from Harbor Freight Tools, gifted to me by Connie Denninger. It was a lifesaver! Here it is in use as 3 young artists got a quick lesson from me.
PeggySupplies
And of course, the main supply I needed for this trip was my van:
PeggyVan
I took my love for journaling – which I enjoy in my Bible and in my artwork – out on the road.  This allowed conversations and prayers with amazing folks like this woman Patricia from San Antonio for whom I prayed.  The best part of my trip?  Patricia found peace and healing from that prayer.
    PeggyWoman
When I got home, this is how I felt:
PeggyHeart

A Heart that Receives

It feels like forever since I’ve done a post!  I’ve been happily absorbed for a few weeks in Illustrated Faith Devotional called “A Heart that Receives.”  I love working with a devotional.  I find in the midst of a busy life, it’s nice to be given a verse and some thoughts along with the verse to get me started.  The Illustrated Faith devotionals come with art supplies and a color scheme (even better!).  My Bible always feels changed in a positive way, once I’ve completed one.  This has been my favorite Illustrated Faith devotional kit.  I love Bible stories and find every time I revisit them I glean something new.  I probably should have shared the pages one-by-one, but here’s the whole thing…

This devotional began with the story of Noah.  Kim Marquette, the author of the devotional asks:  “If God gave me an assignment with great detail that would take years and involved something I have never seen before, would I have the faith to follow through?”  As I ponder the question:  Through the unfolding of the Bible,we are given instruction in how to love God and each other; we are invited into a lifetime of love to prepare us for a heaven we have yet to see, but can only imagine.  May we trust God like Noah and do all that God commands us to do, most of all to love one another as Jesus loves.

147

The next page of the devotion turns to the story of Abraham.  God gave this man instructions to go, promising him offspring, land, and that he would be blessed to be a blessing to others.  But 25 years passed before Abraham and Sarah had a son and named him Isaac.  Kim writes:  “Waiting can be discouraging.  Sometimes the promises of God unfold quickly and sometime’s its 25 years.  The waiting years are fertile ground for an intimate relation with God to grow.”

On the day that I read this page of the devotional, I looked out my kitchen window to see our two children playing with neighborhood children on the swingset in our backyard.  I was so filled with overwhelming gratitude that the scene made it into my Bible!  When we first moved into our home 15 years ago, I planted some pine tress and envisioned the spot where the swingset sits now.  It took another 5 years of waiting and hoping for my son to arrive.  The wait was hard on me, but it was a time to grow closer to God.   I suppose the best thing about the long wait is that I appreciate so much more the little moments that make motherhood a joy.

148

Speaking of dreams, Joseph, the dreamer is the subject of the next day’s devotion.  Joseph is a wonderful example of a man with a heart of receivership.  Kim writes:

He receives the dreams and believes them.  He receives assignments in the home of Pharaoh, he receives a prison sentence, he receives the opportunity to interpret another’s dream, and then he receives the mantle of leadership that eventually saves his people and all of Egypt from a famine.

Through all these events, God’s favor rested upon Joseph and everything he experienced, the good and the bad served a purpose.  I had a pastor who was fond of saying:  “Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.”

As I reread the story of Joseph, my imagination was captured by the story of Potiphar’s wife.  I found myself wondering:  When the wife could see that what Joseph did was successful and that her husband had nothing to worry about, but what to eat:  Why would she cause trouble for him?  That doesn’t seem particularly in her own self-interest.  Still, wherever Joseph went, things ran smoothly.  The keeper of the jail put him in charge, and whatever he did, the lord made it to succeed.  Joseph rises strong from every setback.  His life story is testimony to the truth that all things work together for good for those who are called according to God’s purpose.

149

By way of contrast, Kim shares Moses as an example of a person reluctant to receive.  When God calls him and asks him to go talk to Pharoah, he has all kinds of excuses as to why he can’t.  He claims that he’s not eloquent and that he’s slow of speech and tongue.  He begs God to please just send someone else.  I always appreciate that in the Bible, the heroes of faith all have their weaknesses.  As I reread this passage, I asked myself what advice I would give to Moses in this situation and I thought of verses from Hebrew 13:20-21:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant equip you with everything good that you may do his will working in us that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory for ever and ever.

As I read the passage again, the language that St. Paul used brought to mind parts of the Exodus story.  I reflected on how much passed between what Moses saw and accomplished until Jesus and how every moment, even the weak moments like this culminated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Moses will grow, receive, wait on God, become strong and courageous, learn to say “yes, Lord” and see that God works for the good.

(I think I used all the word stamps from the Devotional kit on one page!  And the flowers, too.)

152

Up next:  Joshua!  The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form of Yeshua  (in English Joshua). In the Bible, its common to see parallels between people of the same name.  The name Joshua means “Yahweh is salvation”. Its Joshua who leads the Hebrews into the promised land.

Kim notes that the phrase “Be strong and courageous” appears four times in the first 18 verses of Joshua.  The first three “Be Strongs” are spoken by God and are followed by the promise of an inheritance, an exhortation to be careful to do all the law that Moses commanded, and an assurance that the Lord God is with His people wherever they go.  The fourth “Be strong” is the people of Israel telling Joshua to be strong and courageous after they answer Joshua:  “Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever your command him, shall be put to death.”

Jesus was put to death, even though he was perfectly obedient, so that we might have an inheritance in heaven, that his righteousness may be ours, and that we may be with God for eternity.

I illustrated this page before, so I just took time to write out the Lord’s instructions to Joshua on a tip-in.  I used Faber-Castell brush pens on the flower stamps.

153

The instructions took up both sides of the tip-in.  It was a pleasant surprise that the “Be Strong and Courageous” tip-in that came with the kit coordinated with the colors I already had on the page!

154

I really got absorbed in the story of Esther, in part because it’s not a Bible story that’s as familiar to me as many others.  I watched the story of Esther on Netflix and read the book of Esther several times.  To the extent that I’m familiar with the story, I’ve heard it told as a story of courage and civil disobedience just as Kim told the story:

In Esther’s day no one approached the king unless summoned.  This one act could cost Ether her life.  However, not asking for mercy could cost many their lives.  Esther asks all the local Jews to fast for three day. Then she starts the process of asking for mercy from the King for her people.

As I read it and reread it, it struck me odd that Esther is known for her one act of disobedience, but this seems to be an exceptional event in the life of a woman who was willing to take instruction and easily won the grace and favor of the king.  The story took on new meaning for me as I read it the story of a bride preparing to meet her king.

156

I am not sure why, but I was really struck by the words:  six months oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women.  Esther spent a long time preparing to meet her king!  (The Netflix movie glosses over this point!)

157

This next page just had me singing…”Don’t you be afraid of giants in your way.  With God you know that anythings possible!”

IMG_6487

The devotional took me on a quick visit to the book of Job.  I appreciated this quote from Kim:  “Learning to receive, preparing to receive happens long before the presentation of something, someone, or situation.  A heart of receivership is cultivated through and intimate relationship with God.”

As I worked on the page below, I was reminded that those moments in life, where what we hold dear is stripped away we encounter God more directly, particularly when we have lived a blameless and upright life and feared God and turned away from evil.  Job declares:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.”  All the things of this earth will pass away, but God is eternal. In Christ we can be assured that we will be with God forever.  Blessed be God’s name!

IMG_6490

Our true hope is not found in the things of the world, but in Christ…

158

The page of the devotional had me singing again…

And pondering this question from Kim in the “A Heart that Receives” devotional:  What if your life lived with a heart of receivership changed the lives of others? Causing many to worship your God?  (Like Daniel).

It’s an honor to think about inspiring others to worship God in new ways.  I was looking for a definition of worship.  Connie Denninger of Vintage Grace supplied me with a long list of definitions for just about any Christian term.  Worship was defined this way:

To adore, obey, revere, and focus positive attention on.  Any action or attitude that expresses praise, love, and appreciation for God.  Can be expressed through obedience, the way we treat people, can be private or public.

Bible Journaling is such an important part of my private worship of God and helps me to make worship and prayer apart of my life throughout my day in all that I do.

living god

As I reflected on the life of Nehemiah, I just thought what a blessing that God brings restoration and allows us to be part of His restoration work….

155

Regarding Mary, Kim asks in the devotional:  “Is God asking you the impossible?  Do you consider yourself the Lord’s servant?”

Like Mary, may I say, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you will.”

162

The following passage is one I illustrated simply many months ago.  I love Kim’s view of John as a waymaker for Jesus.  Kim writes, “it’s not easy for anyone to be second.  To fully understand and receive the role as one who is making the way for the one who is the Way!  Bot John received his assignment and set an example.”  As I pondered this, I could think of so many people who make way for others:  parents, teachers, mentors, pastors, and coaches.  I think being part of another person’s success, even a small part, can be deeply gratifying.  I can think of many who relate to John’s words:  “Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”

As I read through the whole passage, I was struck by a verse that I’ve never noticed before:  “A person can not receive one thing unless it is given to him by heaven.”  This seemed to fit with the theme of the devotional!

163

I’ve been using the “Yes, Lord” stamp quite often as I worked through this devotional.  I admit to tearing up a bit when I read the words “Yes, Lord” as Peter’s response to Jesus after Peter was asked if he loved Jesus.  I always associate keys with Peter.  As I looked at this passage, I thought to myself:  “The keys to the kingdom:  take care of one another!”  To bring God’s kingdom to earth we simply need to live in love and serve willingly as called.

166

The final page of the devotional took me to the garden where Jesus prayed:  “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  This has always been a hard passage for me to read.  I hate the thought of Jesus alone and in agony.

I wasn’t sure how to illustrate this page.  I looked online for inspiration and saw many familiar pictures of Jesus alone and praying, but then I saw the picture of the angel comforting Jesus a painting by Carl Bloch.  I couldn’t see anything else.  I imagine the angel whispered the words that the Lord spoke to Joshua:  “Be strong and courageous.”

164

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the devotional!  Blessings!

Art, Education and Spiritual Formation…for Artists like YOU!

This month the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators newsletter is featuring the theme: “The Educator as Artist.”  Since so many of you connected to this “Journaling the Bible” blog are educators and artists, I wanted to share this great resource with you.

cho-1

This newsletter “The Educator as Artist”  features articles by Sybil MacBeth author of “Praying in Color” (check out the new version of her classic – one that includes coloring pages!), Lisa Nichols Hickman author of “Writing in the Margins”, Allison Wehrung, Theresa Cho and Carmel Tinnes.  You might find of particular interest Lisa’s article on the blog “Making Art in Your Bible.”

Unknown

Enjoy these resources – and let us know how they inspire your work, your life, your worship, your reading of scripture!

GIVE TO THE LORD THE BEST OF THE BEST

This week Pat Nygren Davis’ Bible journaling caught my eye with her colorful poppies.

17425006_10208698845817134_49065546433022011_n

She explained that in her study of Numbers 18:28-29 she learned the Israelites were commanded to give their best to the Levites. The Levites in turn were instructed to give their best. Only the best of the best was a worthy gift to the Lord. Her prayer after reading?  “How I can give the best of my best to the Lord?”  (Pat said she modeled this page after watching a periscope by Ashley Haake (aka @magmagandme)).

I reached out to her to learn a bit more about her.  She said she was a self-professed “math nerd” who got hooked on Bible journaling.  I asked her how she got into Bible journaling.  Here’s what she had to say:

I have always learned through writing/jotting/doodling.  I can’t use the calendar on my phone because appointments don’t register in my brain unless I write it in my paper calendar.  Books I own are all marked up and full of underlining and notes. Here is one of my first Bible Art Journaling pages – “He is Risen!”

image2

I don’t know how I came to buy a book titled  Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible It gave me permission to jot, note and underline in my Bible.  What?!?! I began by drawing a little heart in the margin every time Scripture mentioned God’s love for me – WOW!  There’s a bunch!

That led to buying a wide margin Bible and I started doodling through Psalms and my CBS study in Matthew.  It is still the Bible I take to church and use for my Bible studies.  I can find Matthew 15:27 “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” easily because I remember doodling a little dog in the corner of that page!

image1

My supplies at that time included crayola twistable pencils, a few chalk pastels, gel bible highlighters and a black sharpie no-bleed pen (through trial and error on what could be used without bleeding through).

Then I saw a Facebook post of an acquaintance who had journaled a tree for Psalm 1.  I was so excited!  She mentioned Illustrated Faith and Bible Journaling, so I began my research online and found Facebook groups and Instagram feeds!  I ordered a journaling Bible right away.  My first entry was for Easter 2016 and was done with chalk pastels and a black chalk marker I had. Then I was hooked!

I am so thankful for the Instagram and Facebook communities of Bible Art Journalers!  (I haven’t found very many in my city.)  I have learned so much and they are a great encouragement.  I have not seen anyone else’s Journaling Bible in real life!

My favorite part about BAJ is the time spent reading and mulling over the Word and then figuring out how to put my thoughts and feelings in art form (AND be something I can actually do! Let’s just say I have troubles with faces and hands!).  It’s using creativity to make the Word of God alive to me in a personal way.

image3

Right now I am working through the end of Deuteronomy as part of trying to read the Bible in a year.  Trying to see beyond the OT laws and sacrifices to what the scripture says about God has helped me grow in understanding of our great God. He is the same today, yesterday and always!

Lately I’ve enjoyed doing “Tiny Scripture Doodles.”

image1-1

A friend named Nichole got me hooked.   Her Instagram name is (at)goosekeeperdesigns. She has an etsy store where she sells travelers notebooks etc. She sells a monthly undated calendar with 1″x2″ blocks that works great but one could just draw out their own blocks if desired.

The above picture is one of the months I did while going through Psalms. Check out #tinyscripturedoodles on Instagram and see the variety of styles. I enjoyed doing them as it kept me in the Word each day. Most days I would read the Psalm in the morning, reflect on it through the day, and then do a quick doodle on the calendar in the evening.

Some of my favorite supplies now include Watercolors and Pigma Micron Pens, though I started with Crayola Twistable Pencils, gel highlighters, chalk pastels, and a Sharpie no-bleed black pen. My medium of choice now is watercolor and I’m trying acrylic paint.  I have played with NeoColor IIs and watercolor pencils.  I own a set of Prismacolor pencils and use them in my regular (non-journaling Bible).   I also like the Tombow Kuretake Fude pen for lettering and the Pigma Micron black pens. My current favorite watercolors are Pelikan and Windsor-Newton Cotman.  I’ll usually try anything once!

I would not call myself an artist (before BAJ I had not touched a paintbrush since junior high art class!), but I LOVE the journey of learning new things.  I have used internet images to trace (not so much anymore), to copy, and to be inspired.  I study other people’s work and check out periscopes and YouTube tutorials on Bible Art Journaling, watercolor, lettering, and any other kind of art that might find its way into my Bible.

My prayer is that my pages reflect our Lord God and give God glory and honor and praise.

Happy Mail

I received some happy mail yesterday:  Some We R Memory Keepers Envelope Wraps from my Bible Journaling friend Connie Denninger, author of Vintage Grace.  She discovered that these stickers, designed for dressing up an envelope, are just the right width for our Bible margins.  They are a great option for covering up bleedthrough.

IMG_6346

Earlier in the day, I was sorting through some papers hoping to find the physical form I needed for my daughter’s kindergarten registration, when I came across a coloring page that I received when I attended an awesome Visual Faith event at Connie’s church.

The coloring page led me to the perfect verse for one of the stickers that Connie sent me and the Psalm prove to be just exactly where I needed to be spending some time in the Word.  I felt blessed!

IMG_6343

Psalm 37 is a good reminder to wait on God and keep His way.  And the bicycle reminds me of what it means to follow God:  You have to stay well-balanced, keep going, and look to the road ahead!

IMG_6341

My husband and I were both brought up to believe if you do well in school and work hard, you will do well.  We have three jobs between us and are often up past midnight doing work.  There are times when it can be discouraging.  Our parents never worked quite this hard and some things they took for granted are a struggle for us.  We see other people doing just as well or better by not doing the right things in life.  Psalm 37 reminds me that this problem is as old as time, but also it provides this assurance:  God does not forsake His saints.  God provides for us as we do our best to walk in the way our parents taught us and God shows us in His Word.

 

IMG_6345

 

It was so nice to receive some fun mail, which randomly turned into a bit of needed encouragement.

One, two, whatever you do, start it well and carry it through.

Try, try, never say die.

Things will come right, you know, by and by.

PEACE AND LIGHT – Playing in prayer and scripture with Suzanne Stovall Vinson

Guest post by Lisa Nichols Hickman, author of Writing in the Margins: Connecting with God on the Pages of Your Bible.

I am beyond excited to introduce you to Suzanne Stovall Vinson owner of Silver Tree Art.  Below, in her poetic voice, you’ll hear how she fell in love with praying in color.  And, you’ll catch a glimpse of some of her favorite artistic tools!

image (1 of 1)-333

When I see photos of her studio space pop up on my Facebook feed, I want to transport myself from snowy western Pennsylvania to her light-filled art and gathering room in Richmond,Virginia.

image (1 of 1)-417

Suzanne’s work is beyond the margins of scripture, but in every image she exudes what it means to “pray in color.”  Take a look!  I think you’ll fall in love immediately.  Here’s what Suzanne had to say about her practice of painting and praying…

Somehow, I got into journaling and praying with paint and color when my hands met my heart, and my head and my health poured forth.

I started reading and experimenting with a mixed media art journaling approach to my devotional time through the great work of books like “Wild Surrender” and “Create for the One Who Made me” by  Mindy Lacefield.

image (1 of 1)-283

My daily practice is distilled into the essence of listening. Reading Krista Tippet speaks of “generous listening” which I find to be luxurious – wrapped in silk and lace – at some point listening becomes a conversation, too, once you’ve listened long enough.

I am inspired by the shapes and colors in nature, and by the interweaving color stories in my imagination as brush moves across paper. I love, love moss and seed pods. Lichen and leaves and ferns. I love blooms and trees. I love rusty things and barn wood.

I process life through my paintbrush. So when I’ve had a trail run or a walk in the neighborhood, the joy of that experience enters the page. When I am feeling fatigued and worn out, I find energy in painting. When I am in a dark space, painting brings me into the light.

image (1 of 1)-276

Somehow, I meet the right people at the right time. friendships are foundational in my path to wholeness and healing. friendships help me to survive the fatiguing moments of motherhood and life. near my 20’s i was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. i’ve learned in the last 20 years that i need a different pace, a rhythm of work and life that needs to shift according to my body’s needs. i’m reminded again and again through health and wellness ((or the lack thereof)) what i need to maintain a healthy course. most of the time, i want to pretend that fatigue isn’t there, that i’m fine. then i over-do the work-flow and under-do the self care practices. i skip lunch or work through half the night. while my work gives me energy, avoiding meals and sleep isn’t sustainable for any of us.

And I love to dream big. i dream often, setting those hopes and dreams to paper, object, word, art. i put them into flames and let the smoke carry them to the grandmothers. i ask for help. dreaming big these days, i’m aiming to spread the word about the work i do in the world and tell others why i do what i do and what i believe it can do for the world. i make art to care for my sacred soul. i make art that is made to care for others through rituals of healing, receiving care and love, and to release what is carried that no longer needs to be. my wisdom cards are shared from me to you through social media and in my wee etsy shop and Silver Tree Art studio in Ginter Park. those soul seeds of wisdom cards are then carried to our tribes in times of loss, celebration, when cancer shows up, and when we need to be reminded we are beautiful and so, so very loved. my candles and sacred strikes are shared in much the same ways. my prints aim to add delight.

When I started moving from purely abstract into integrating the wisdom I was hearing, I found my art rooted in a place of growth. My art began to grow as I gave myself permission to use the materials I loved the most, watercolors.

IMG_9274

The art went deeper as I gave myself permission to trust my intuition and combine ink and pencil into my work. If I did all this in secret, i would be fed. I’ve chosen to share through my blog(s) and social media over the years. Sharing helps me to expand my heart and my art. I love hearing the stories of others who tell me that I made the piece for them, that the message or image spoke to them in a particular way. I believe that’s part of the art-making. The art is something and the sharing and seeing is another art form.

i am an artist, mother, and minister living an intentional life toward wholeness, kindhearted listening, and compassionate care. when i listen to myself and those i trust in the tribe that encircles me, i hear that i am a loving mother who has banked really good times and when i am the too-tired-to-say-the-right-thing-first mama, i slow down and show some forgiveness where needed, asking forgiveness when necessary. i am a mother of two very sweet souls whose lives i’m thrilled to witness unfold. one is 10.75 and the other 3.5. each adds wonder, delight, and levity on the best days. my partner in life is my one-and-only-true-love who i’ve been married to for 13 years. he’s my grounding and my joy. my love for my love deepens in our growing together. as an artist, i create soul wisdom art, which is art that is meant to deepen your experience of life, delight and connection. as a minister, i gather women around the table in circles, mini-retreats, and retreats where we experience ritual, healing, rest, and the creative flow as kindred spirits. my gatherings are said to be “life giving” where “you leave more rested than you walked in” and you experience synchronicity, self care, and a deep soul exhale. i also love the opportunities i am given speak and facilitate retreats, conferences, and gatherings.

image (1 of 1)-140

I’ve always been a creator from my earliest days of mudpies, and grass and blooming soups in rain water. I’d paint or color and play, play play. I loved 4H as an avenue of exploring through travel, conversation, and the work of my hands. My education was at a private liberal arts school in MS in business education and a master of education in guidance and counseling, then a master of divinity studies and post grad coursework in bereavement care and chaplaincy. I was a minister in the church in some form from the time I was in my early 20’s. Before that, I babysat for families and sold plants at a nursery, which carried me through college. during my first masters and undergrad, I worked within the laboratory preschool at the college – cooking and teaching in the afternoons. I loved gathering the art supplies and creating projects for the 3, 4, 5 year olds to create. I loved it all.

My calling expanded from the time I was 16 until now. Before selling art, I ministered in church, facilitated bereavement groups before moving more into chaplaincy. Then my call reached for a space of my own, and I moved into the studio space so I could welcome groups into my own space rather than relying solely for contract work. I’ve always had a short-term contract outside the studio space to work with folks in group facilitation or chaplaincy. Now I am relying upon the intersection of art and spirituality, the healing work of gathering women together, and showing up for speaking engagements, retreats, and groups and believing something wonderful happens when we’re sharing the same air and space for a period of time.

my business is silver tree art where i make art, lead mini-retreats and gatherings in the studio, as well as travel to lead retreats for organizations, non-profits, and churches. i specialize in working with groups who seek healing, wholeness, and slowing down.

image (1 of 1)-138

my studio is painted “reflection pool” blue with accents of red, brown, and black. there are 5 large windows and windowed closets. you feel like you’re in a tree house, looking out among trees and rooftops. Within the walls of the studio, there are turquoise ball jars filled with buttons, baskets upon baskets of rik rak, ribbon, paper, paints, and fabrics. the studio functions as retail space, gathering space, and in-action-artist-studio space. after moving into the space, I had 12 or so women gathered around the studio tables for a studio blessing. since then the birthday celebrations and mini retreats continue to bless the space. when you walk in, it’s a wonderland of creativity and visual delight. it’s an artist’s treasure box.

image (1 of 1)-454

in my studio i hold an evening creativity circle mini-retreat where women gather around the table for a small fee ($40) for just over 2 hours. we have a light snack, a 10-12 minute guided meditation of my creation, a creative project, and conversation woven with poetry and readings. each gathering is unique in theme.

walking you through a mini-retreat :: when you gather at the table, you are greeted with opening words from a poem, a time to light candle(s), and a time to pause and consider what you hope for. we begin with deep breathing and guided meditation as we move into our time of retreat. deepening the relaxation, we create together, with a project suzanne leads us into from the guided meditation. everyone, at every comfort level of creativity from none to great, feels comfortable diving into the creative play. conversation, readings, and poetry and questions are interwoven during our creative play. what is shared is sacred and just right for the evening gathering. you’ll leave more relaxed than you entered, with more energy and care to share with those in your world. there’s magic, too, along with the mystery and soul work that is best experienced than explained.

i also offer private gather your tribe mini-retreats, birthday celebrations, and day long or overnight retreats for groups. i’m available for speaking engagements and workshops as well. my art is made available through silvertreeart.etsy.com.

Micah 6:8 has been especially close to my heart for many years, and I have finally made it art that I keep near.

micah68.5x7

Growing into a woman, Proverbs 3:5-6 was always in my pocket. So many verses have been underlined and written over the years.

I especially love stories from the Hebrew Bible. There is such rich imagery and lessons throughout – and humor. I love the humor infused in Scripture as much as I love the Wisdom throughout.

My favorite materials include:

Medium Rollerball Pens
Koi Pens
Fluid 100 cold press watercolor paper
no 2 round princeton select brush
escoda prado watercolor brushes

oil pastels

Bristol Strathmore Smooth

IMG_9266

Tombow pens from Japan

 

IMG_9268

Schmincke Watercolors

IMG_9269

Getting to Know Paper Pieces

My daughter asked me to make a Bible for her.  So we went to Lifeway and she picked out a journaling Bible with a bird on the cover, and she said, “Mom, I want bird stickers for my bird Bible.”  Shortly after she made the request, Illustrated faith came out with a new set of Bible Journaling supplies called “Seeds of Faith” filled with bird and nature images.  I had a 25% off coupon and I bought the whole collection from Dayspring.  The collection includes a box of little paper pieces, just small cut-out illustrations with a Bible verse on the back.  I’ve never really known what to do with these.  They tend to sit in my drawer, so I challenged myself to use the WHOLE box!!!  I journaled all of the passages on the backs of the pieces.  (I also used transparency pieces, stickers, and stamps with the paper pieces.)

I wish I could begin to describe how these little paper pieces ministered to me.  I’ve learned so much from these little birds about singing, weathering life’s storms, taking refuge in God, trusting in God’s provision, learning from God’s ways, flying free, and enjoying friendship.  It’s been a fun journey!  I’m so grateful to my daughter for the inspiration and Illustrated Faith for the the most random and fun Bible study ever.

So many people say that they don’t know where to begin.  A box of paper pieces is a good place to start!

What they are:  Little illustrated pieces of paper.

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  They are flexible, cute, and fun.  Unlike stickers, you can glue down just part so that the rest of the picture can be lifted.  You can also let part of the paper piece hang off the side or the top to use as a tab.

Page Prep Needed:  None

Ideas:  It’s fun to add color to the page first with washi tape, acrylic paint, Distress Inks or gelatos.

The big question for me with paper pieces is what’ the best adhesive?  Really you can use any adhesive that you would use with paper crafts:  Tape runners, double sided tape, or glue sticks.  Scor-Tape is nice double-sided tape because you can tear it to size with your fingers.  My very favorite adhesive to use with paper pieces is the Xyron sticker maker, which is a little tape role that applies a sticky back to any small piece.

083

I especially liked using the Xyron sticker maker with the transparency pieces.  You just drop the piece in one side and pull the tape through the other.  It comes out with an invisible, perfectly smooth layer of adhesive.  After I tried this, I haven’t really gone back to other adhesives unless the piece was too big.  Then I personally prefer to use a glue stick.

046 - Copy

After applying adhesive, you just add the little piece to your Bible page…

IMG_6321

 

One of the first pages, I did in my daughter’s new Bible has the words “With my song I will praise him.”  I always hope that my life story will sing praise to God (even if my daughter wants to cover her ears when I sing!)

I found that the paper piece looked a little flat against the Bible paper, so I added some color by backing it with a small piece of scrapbooking paper.  I used washi tape to attach the transparency page that matched the verse.  My daughter delights in how the transparency lifts up and changes the appearance of the page.

026 - Copy

Some of the Illustrated Faith pieces have Bible verses on the back of them that make me wonder:  “What were they thinking?”  This little bird tab had printed on the backside “Isaiah 38:7”:  “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  I wasn’t quite sure how to make this work, but I was inspired to create singing stars and little birdies as the sons of God shouting:  “Be joyful!”  For the tab piece, I used a glue stick to make the tab sticky and folded it over.

053

Another tab piece suggested Psalm 96:1.  This page came together very quickly with stickers and just a little writing.  I love that God encourages us to “Sing a new song.”  We don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them.  We can can look to the future and move forward in new ways, even better ways.

060 - Copy

The next few passages are more about times of trouble.  Here’s a good reminder for times when we feel misunderstood or unfairly criticized.  I used the back side of one of the tip-ins for a quick backdrop (that also covered up some bad shadowing!)

065 - Copy

This next page took me totally by surprise.  I picked up a little piece of paper shaped like a branch that led me to Job 29:18:  “Then I thought I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, my roots spread out to the waters, with the dew all night on my branches.”  As I read the text around the verse, it was Job defending his life, his hopes, his dreams.  Here was a man who truly kept the faith, but everything went wrong for him.  I was looking through my stamp collection for a nest stamp.  Instead, I found a “crown of thorns.” I was moved to tears thinking how Job’s nest turned into a crown of thorns for him and I prayed for those facing challenges and heartaches within their families and their homes.  Job tries to understand and cries out:  “Where shall wisdom be found?  And where is the place of understanding?”  There are times in life where what we want more than anything is to understand “why?” and we would prefer a good answer to all the riches in the world.  In those moments, we have to look to Christ and know that the son of God, too, had his thorn of crowns and suffered much so that we all could be in relationship with His father.

052 - Copy

Here’s another sad bird; she went out in search of dry land after the 40 day flood, but couldn’t find a place to rest her feet.  As I looked at this little bird returning to Noah, I was reminded that just because a storm has past doesn’t mean we feel better immediately.  It takes some time to recover, to feel like we are on solid ground again.

084 - Copy

As I illustrated the next verse, I found myself focusing on the word wait.  So often when I read this famous passage from Isaiah, I want to be in the place of soaring like an eagle, but the passage really calls us to be patient, to wait on God, and to walk with God…

047 - Copy

The next paper piece took me to Jeremiah 1:11.  Jeremiah receives a sign from God.  It’s just an almond branch and the only purpose of the sign seems to be to make sure that Jeremiah sees it.  Reading this page I felt encouraged, knowing that long before we were born God knew us and loved us into being.  God has a plan for our life.

071 - Copy

I guess the next passage is for the worst of times, when death comes.  I was touched by these words: “For the one who has died had been set free from sin.”  I suppose all of us are set free from all the sins and sorrows that afflicted us in life through death.  I was reminded of the song:  “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.”  But here’s the true power of Jesus:  Through Christ, we can live in hope now with joy and love in the midst of all our troubles.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly!

076

God reminds us through the Psalms that during life’s storms we can take our refuge in Him.  My daughter liked this page just as it was.  Maybe some day we will add some journaling.

058

And also that even as we take refuge in God, we should still keep singing.

056

If we take refuge in Him, we will set us free:  “The Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”

038

We all need this reminder:  “Consider the lilies.”  I’ve always taken this verse to heart at least when it comes to clothes.  God has always met my need for clothes in fun ways. Both my mother and mother-in-law give me clothes.  I have the most beautiful cashmere coat that I found at a little thrift store near my house for $10.  I always receive nice complements on the coat and I just smile and say, “It was a gift.”  (From God!)  The funniest thing to ever happen to me:  Right before my family took a trip to Disney world, we received a package by mistake from the Disney store with two hoodies just the right size for my kids, but with embroidered with different names.  They said either keep the jackets or give them to charity.  We put buttons over the random names, and I took the whole experience as a”god-wink.”  I had been really worried/stressed about the trip for a variety of reasons, but after this I felt peace.  Those little moments help me to know that God will always provide for me.  I had to add the cute little strip of birds to this page, too, with the verse:  “Fear not little flock!”  But like many people, I still get anxious about other areas of life, often things I can’t even control.

074

The following paper piece with a butterfly took me to Proverbs 23:5:  “Cast but a glance on riches and they are gone for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky.”  I had to really ponder this verse.  What I’ve learned through the years of working with both people and money is that there a lot of wisdom in not toiling to acquire wealth.  It’s far wiser to simply live well, but always within your means; spend money in a way you can sustain (not too little or too much–both can be a problem); and invest savings for the long-term so time does the work for you.  There is a flow when it comes to money that just needs to evened out both in the short-run and the long-run.  My daughter liked the dollar bill with wings!

064

Another verse about God’s provision:  “Even the sparrow finds a home.”  I love Psalm 84.  Sometimes people worry that a sticker or stamp can only be used with one verse, but I’ve found that themes recur throughout the Bible.  This seemed like a good place for another reminder:  “You are worth more than many sparrows.”  This is a beautiful promise:  “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

059 - Copy

And of course, it’s fun to put a paper piece right next to the verse it belongs:

073

Not only are we worth many sparrows, but we are loved by God!!!

069

This paper piece led me to the Exodus story:  “In the evening quail came up and covered the camp and in the morning dew lay around the camp.”  I was reminded of the curious ways that God provides for us and in this passage how he tested the people to see if they could learn to trust in Him.  God provided exactly what they needed for each day, no more and no less, except on the day before the people were to rest.  Then they got extra.  I had fun with the little quail stamp from an Illustrated Faith Christmas set.

035

Again, I had a hard time putting this paper piece with the verse. The heart with the words “Be joyful” led me to the story of Melchizedek, the high priest, serving bread and wine to Abraham. Is the message here that one serving of the body and blood of Christ was enough to sustain a family and people through generations until Christ came and offered these gifts to us in the sacrament of Holy Communion?  Sometimes its hard to read stories from the Old Testament without seeing them through the lens of the New!  I’m guessing this was not the original intention of the author, but I still came away from this page with a reminder to be joyful in worship and grateful for the gift of communion.

085 - Copy

I wasn’t sure exactly where the little tree would lead me.  The verse on the back said:  “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the Law of God.  And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.”  As I completed this page, I was touched that thousands of years after this event, the Bible and church are such a big part of my own life, too.  God provides for us through his Holy Word and through our community of faith.

051 - Copy

A little reminder that spending time in the Bible is a wonderful way to grow.  The Word helps us to be like trees planted by a stream of water, continually renewed and refreshed.

054

The next page is really simple.  I was totally smitten with this little flying bird.  It is the reason I ordered a Xyron because I really wanted to find a way to attach the transparent piece to the page.  We can all learn a lot from the birds about sticking to the natural rhythms of life.

072 - Copy

The little bird below led me to Psalm 119:45:  “I shall walk in a wide place for I have sought your precepts.”  As we grow in our understanding of the Word, we grow in wisdom and influence, too.  We walk in wider places than we could ever have imagined.

062

I have never journaled Proverbs 31 before.  Its one of those passages that looms large in my life as the kind of person I want to be:  a good wife, someone that can be trusted, someone who brings good and not harm to others, hard-working, resourceful, prudent and wise with money, strong, generous, aware of the needs of my family ahead of time, clothed with dignity, fearless, able to laugh at the time to come, wise and kind, and I want my children to see me be happy.  These are beautiful images; Am I the only woman who finds this passage a little intimidating?  Can I say high expectations?

I used acrylic paint as a backdrop for this flower bouquet.

041

Little birds and butterflies speak to us of freedom.  The butterfly picture below took me to John 8:35.  I was reminded that we aren’t meant to stay forever in some situations.

080

I loved this reminder from Galatians:  “For freedom Christ has set us free.”  Sometimes there are things that weigh us down or start to feel heavy, but we have been made to fly.  We need to lay our burdens down and when we do, we will surely wonder why it took us so long to do so.

077 - Copy

Still in Galatians thinking of freedom and love:  this little paper piece was too big for my margins, so I used washi tape to attach it as a tip-in.

025 - Copy

Acts reminds us that Christ has freed us from everything about the law that felt heavy.  We still have the wisdom to guide us, but we aren’t chained to the past.

034

This is one of those verses that I may not have otherwise focused on:  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3: 12)  St. Paul’s writing is so packed with verses that I could meditate on all day and all night that its easy to miss a piece of encouragement that doesn’t just immediately speak to me.  As I spent time with this verse, I was so encouraged by the reminder that we can be bold in Christ Jesus and that we always have access to Him with confidence through faith.  I was quite cheered by the bold, little toucan!

044

Many birds are social creatures, and they remind us that we really do need each other.  This verse is so true:  Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.  Friendship is one of life’s best gifts.

And of course, Jesus is the ultimate sharpener and best friend.  It is always good to be in his presence.

066 - Copy

The pages above and below remind me of a poem I learned from my grandmother:

A Priceless Gift

by Helen Steiner Rice

Friendship is a priceless gift
That can’t be bought or sold,
But its value is far greater
Than a mountain made of gold.

For gold is cold and lifeless,
It cannot see nor hear,
And in your times of trouble,
It is powerless to cheer.

It has no ears to listen,
No heart to understand.
It cannot bring you comfort
Or reach out a helping hand.

So when you ask God for a gift,
Be thankful that he sends,
Not diamonds, pearls, or riches,
But the love of a real, true friend.

In life, it is good to have friends:  “Two are better than one.”  It’s just good to know that we have someone to catch us when we fall and be there to share life’s ups and downs.  (I used two paper pieces on this page, just because I messed up a stamp and used the scrap booking paper to cover up my mistake!)

068 - Copy

It’s also possible to make your own paper pieces.  I printed out the Bible verse for the last paper piece on cardstock and used clear scrapbooking glue to attach it to the transparency paper.  We are free in Christ, but we are freed for God’s purposes, so that we can love and serve one another through the every day ordinary duties of our lives.  Through it all, love endures.

079 - Copy

Feeling so grateful for this little journey led by paper pieces, for Illustrated Faith and the ways that they have opened up Scripture, and for my sweet daughter who inspired me to go on this bird-themed journey!