Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Few Things

Today's post is going to serve as a few things all rolled up into one blog post. How's that for multitasking!

First, I finally decided to participate in the September 30 Days of Lists. I've hesitated because I have a tendency to involve myself in too many things. But I was looking through my previous 30 Days of Lists journals the other day, looking for a particular page, and that stirred up a desire to join in again. And let's face it, I just love making lists! So today they are doing a blog hop to get the challenge going.

We were challenged to go back to the March 2011 list and select a prompt, make a list, share it on our blog and then link up with other bloggers doing the same thing. I chose prompt #1 "A few things about yourself"...although I have a "few" more than a "few" things! (Ironically I labeled this post without even thinking about the title of the prompt!)


I actually just finished this page last night and loved how it fit with the list prompt. It is actually a page I made for a prompt I did with my art group. As I mentioned in my post last week (Read it here), In August a few ladies from my church got together with me and we formed an art group. One of the ideas I had with this group was to use ancient art forms and re-purpose them using paper and mixed media. Our prompt was to make a list of things about yourself starting with "I am" and/or "I am a/an". Then we made mosaics out of paper and put our lists on them. So the above page is the result of that prompt for me. All of my mosaic pieces were cut from magazine pages. Here are some details before and after I added the words:






I love it when I can kill two birds with one stone without even realizing it! If you are interested in participating in the September 2014 30 Days of Lists challenge you can learn more about it here. It's a fun challenge, especially if you love making lists! Even if you don't it helps you be present to things in your everyday life. There is also a Facebook page for today's blog post where you can view other bloggers lists  #30listsbloghop.

If you feel inspired you can make your own magazine mosaic and include a list of things about you. Don't forget to share it with me!









Friday, August 22, 2014

Something to Ponder

For a few weeks in August five ladies from my church got together with me to make art and listen to my ideas about being creative, our faith and identity in Christ, and self-care. It was fun introducing some of these ladies to art journaling. It was also a good exercise for me and testing my teaching voice. I have taught on various topics for different events at church, mainly in regards to Bible Study or mission, and I have used my voice here on this blog. But I have had a nudge in my heart and spirit to explore using my voice in other ways regarding faith and art. What I discovered over these weeks is that I have way too much inside me and it really needs more time to develop into something cohesive. But this time with these ladies also sparked some different creative ideas which I will share here on my blog in the months ahead as well as through some other projects I am going to be a part of in the near future.

In prep for our last get together to talk about self-care, I read a passage that is very familiar to me, and probably to many of you, but this time reading it brought to mind some different questions. Let me share:

The passage: "Jesus replied, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two verses." Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus had just been asked by one of the Pharisees in verse 36 which commandment is the greatest. The verse above give His answer. Not one, but two commandments are given as the greatest: loving God and loving your neighbor. Paul points to this last part, loving your neighbor, as a way of summing up all of the commandments in one (Romans 13:9) and as a way of fulfilling the entire Law (Galatians 5:14).

The part that brought about my questions was "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I think sometimes we view self-care as being selfish or self indulgent, but this verse makes an assumption: that you are already loving yourself in a manner that is healthy and good, and that out of that place you will love your neighbor/others in the same manner.To me loving yourself is about self-care. It's about taking care of yourself in ways that keep you healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually so that you can be your best for others. Jesus modeled this when he withdrew and sought solitude, rest and time for prayer. He even did this at the expense of not serving others needs. He taught it and modeled it to His disciples. He was so in tune with His Father and the Father's will that he was able to discern when it was time for self-care and when it was time for caring for others.

So ponder these questions with me:

  • How well are you doing at loving yourself?
  • If you are not putting self-care/love practices into place that are healthy, then how well are you really loving others?
  • Are you loving others out of something unhealthy? Such as co-dependency? Dysfunction? Facades? Trying to get your own needs met? Selfishness - to get something in return?
  • Do you know yourself and your limits well enough to know how to fill your energy tank in the areas I listed above?
  • Do you regularly take time to examine your emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health?
  • Do you regularly practice spiritual disciplines or habits that help shape you spiritually? Habits of rhythm such as rest, Sabbath, retreats that help energize you?
  • Or are you spiritually thirsty? Worn out? Running on empty or burned out?
These are just some of the questions this passage brought about for me. 
For me, self-care is a way of loving myself that is healthy, not selfish. In fact, Cloud and Townsend in their book "Boundaries" call self-care stewardship of the gifts God has given us. The end goal of self-care is what determines whether it is selfishness or stewardship: Am I doing this to make me better for God and others or just to make me better. The answer definitely requires soul searching and listening to God in prayer.

I encourage you to make self-care a priority. Pray through the questions above. You may even want to use this as a topic to explore for art journaling! I do quite often!

Earlier this week I got a surprise in the mail. Elissa, who I know through the Documented Life Project sent me an envelope full of "Happy Mail". Thanks Elissa! Here's a small sampling of what was in the envelope.


Last weekend I spent some time painting papers for one of the exercises our group did. I noticed I  reach for The circle templates, stencils and stamps a lot!







And a recent non-Documented Life art journal page. 


My Sabbath Day and art are big parts of self-care for me. What practices are significant to your self-care?




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer's End

Can someone please tell me where the summer has gone?! It seems like it has flown by so quickly. Today I stopped by the school and visited with some of the staff and teachers and that really makes it feel like summer is at its end.

Last week I took my last summer break. I took my little God-family to my sister's house on the lake for a few days. A few days at Bliss cottage was a real treat for us city folk being in the quiet relaxing atmosphere of the lake. The kids were water babies and in their glory!



The kids (and mama) had their first boat ride ever!


Maggie was sad to see us leave.
The kids gave her endless attention!
Documented Life Project catch up:
Week 31



Week 24 challenge
Challenge week 26
Challenge week 8
Each week in the Doc Life group we are offered a new challenge. I have not done them in order but instead have done them when inspiration hits.  In week 8 the challenge was to add a flap page. Week 24 was to use a book page. Since I already use book paper on most of my pages, I wanted to use it in a different way. Week 26 we were to use a favorite Bible verse. I combined all of these challenges into one page spread.

This weekend our church hosts our annual neighborhood picnic for the neighborhoods around the church and for the families of the school we have adopted. And school starts on Tuesday...I hope you're enjoying the last weeks of summer~!











Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This & That

 We have been in a series at church about relational prayer and have tried to make it very practical. Sometimes we just make prayer too difficult. We think it needs to be a certain way in order for God to hear it or answer it. We think it has to have holy or fancy language, when instead God is looking for us to simply talk with him and get to know him better. Two weeks ago we had a panel of people from the congregation share the different ways they connect with God in prayer and other spiritual practices. I got to share about how art journaling has become a spiritual practice for me and shared some of my pages.

This past weekend our Equipping and Communication pastor spoke on the challenges we face when it comes to prayer. He and his wife lost their 4 year old son in March to Batten's Disease. And Andy shared very personally about unanswered prayer and about how God connects to us in our suffering. It was very powerful and moving. (You can listen here if you are interested Here) Andy wrote a great prayer which he shared with us at the end of his message and I wanted to share it with all of you:

"God, if your will is to remove this suffering, that would be a tremendous relief to me; but if your will is to redeem this suffering, then empower me by your Spirit to endure it, so that faith, hope, love and Christlikeness may result in and through me."

What I appreciate about this prayer is that, not only is it relational, but it also helps align our perspective with God's.

I have had little time for art lately. My little Etsy shop has been quite busy over the past few weeks. And last week at church we had vacation Bible school. I volunteered. It exhausted me! But it was good. I love spending time with kids and I helped with the 4-6 year olds, which is my favorite age group. Our next door neighbors have 5 year old twin girls who went with me all week. We had a great time, along with my 5 year old god-grand daughter, Christanay. She loves hanging out with the twins. Below is a picture of them at VBS and then some Documented Life Project pages.

Christanay is in the center with a twin on each side







That's all for today!





Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Winner, a Sneak Peak, and a Little Art Journaling

A week ago, in response to having won a stencil in a Stencil Girl giveaway, I decided to pass on the fun and do a giveaway from my Etsy shop. The winner of a vintage paper pack for making art is:
Brenda F. !
Brenda, please send me an email at marybrack@gmail.com and I will email you back with the information I need to personalize your goodies! 

Thank you to everyone who left comments and participated in the giveaway!

For quite a while I have had an idea for a class that combines exploring faith, identity and creativity ~ "Be Who You Are". It has been a bit of a struggle pulling all of my thoughts together into something cohesive and translatable to other people. So, I have pulled together a group of 6-7 ladies from my church and we are doing a trial run to enable me to get my thoughts and ideas out of my head and made into flesh, so to speak. We begin this Monday and will meet together for five weeks. At the end of this time I hope to have gained a better understanding of how all of my ideas and the paths God has led me on can fit together in a class format. Then, I hope to be able to put it together and offer an online class as well as develop it more for future use at my church. Below is a little sneak peak at the notebook I have been using as I have studied Scripture and tried to compile my thoughts and my art ideas.

Some recent art journaling ...mainly for The Documented Life project.





Week 30 challenge: do a smash book style page using receipts, etc.
I am off to help my in-laws move. We have Vacation Bible School this week. Looking forward to hanging out with the 4-6 year olds! It's my favorite age group and I'm excited that my little neighbor girls who are 5 year old twins will be joining me this week! I'll try to post some progress from the class next weekend.

May you enjoy your week and make white space for being creative and filling your soul!