Saturday, December 20, 2008
This year I took a slightly different approach. Since my sophomores needed to study short stories, I decided to make the hymn analysis a parallel assignment. They researched their assigned hymns, learned what they could about the authors and their motivations for writing. They also had to connect the hymn to Scripture. Then, as a twist, they had to use what they learned about the essence of short stories and create a story about the hymns they were assigned. All of the stories were creative and informative, but one student's was so beautifully written that I asked whether I could share it. It really isn't a short story, but it is a lovely reflection for Christmas.
Friday, December 19, 2008
It seems everywhere I turn Wm. Paul Young's new-ish book, The Shack, comes up as a topic of conversation. No one could really tell the story, but everyone talked about how profound it was. I figured I should probably read it, so I checked it out at the library yesterday afternoon. I finished it this morning (all 248 pages plus acknowledgments, credits, and review clips.)
It is an "other-worldly" book; I can't describe it any better than most. While I doubt it will have the same impact as Pilgrim's Progress, as Eugene Peterson says, I do think it's a book worthy of reading--more than once. Young approaches our perception of God in a unique way. I tend to be suspicious of authors who try to make God approachable and "human", but Young manages to walk the line between the Word and the Inconceivable without falling into heresy or silliness. Just as I thought he was headed into a doctrinal misstep, he came around with an answer that brought him back in line with fundamental theology.
I haven't read many fiction books that made me think the way this one does. I plan to read it again--more slowly now that I know the story line. There are nuggets there that I breezed past with the intent of going back to ponder more carefully. Lines like this: Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. (197) And this: Being always transcends appearance--that which only seems to be. (112)
The book is not hard to read, but the concepts it contains will take a long time to fully explore. I'm glad I read it right before Christmas; it gives me a fresh look at Emmanuel, God with us.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Well, now how much fun it this? I have been chosen by a fellow artist as one of her seven Kreativ Bloggers!
So, now I get to share seven things I love and pass the award along to seven other bloggers. So, here goes nothing:
Seven things I love
1. God! Without Jesus I am nothing.
2. My husband--even when he makes me crazy.
3. My girls--even when THEY drive me crazy!
4. The ocean's roar and the wind in the trees (okay, I cheated and snuck two in there.)
5. MUSIC (see previous post about that)
6. Learning. As a teacher, I find I learn ALL the time. As an artist I find new ways to learn.
7. My studio (aka my sanctuary). When I close the door I enter my own world.
Seven Award winners...this is hard, because the people who inspire me are so far beyond me in talent and vision that I feel a little bit like a movie extra handing out Oscars or Golden Globes. In any case, take a look at these fabulous blogs:
Heidi Arfstrom http://stampingwithwings.blogspot.com/
Melanie Smith http://www.smartie-artie.blogspot.com/
Sherre Hulbert http://sherresartmusings.blogspot.com/
Michelle A-Z http://www.atozdesigns.com/bunnyz/index.html
Marcia Mattos http://www.marciamattos.blogspot.com/
Fabrizio Martellucci http://www.craftingmad.blogspot.com/
Shelly Newkirk http://shellysblog-ne.blogspot.com/
And there you have it: seven incredibly talented bloggers with a variety of styles for you to visit for inspiration. Let them know I sent you there!
Gee, can I say I have an "award-winning" blog now?
Thanks Sharon! (check out her blog, too: http://www.mystoryart.com/)
Friday, December 05, 2008
I created this for the JFBC "Glimpses of His Glory" gallery. The theme for this exhibition is "Joy." From the first moment I heard the theme, I knew that I would use Psalm 30:5 as my inspiration verse. An old song by the group Glad went through my head the whole time I created. The piece took me much longer than I anticipated, but I think the end result communicates my message.
Here is the write up that will accompany my artwork in the gallery:
Psalm 30:5b Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
No one escapes this life without sorrow. In a sinful world, there is no escape from its influence or from its consequences. The believer, however, has the hope of knowing that God is with him through the trials no matter how tragic. God's understands the deepest and cruelest sorrow, and sends the Hold Spirit to be Comforter during those difficult days, however long they may last.
Martin Luther's 1545 translation of Psalm 30:5 concludes: ...des Morgens ist Freude: ...the morning is joy. Just as the darkest night always ends with sunrise, every believer's sorrow always ends with joy. Joy from sorrow? Only because of Christ can boundless joy proceed from the darkess sorrow. Only in Christ is it possible for believers to endure the weeping of the night with the hope that joy will rise with the dawn.
This Christmas season is the ideal time to remember God's promise that HE offers hope, and no matter what the sorrow of the night may be, the morning is joy.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
These are the days that make for long term memories, and I am grateful for each one of them. God is good!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I can't remember a time in my life when music didn't move me. I love to sing it. I love to hear it. I love to be challenged by it and soothed by it. Music communicates at the soul level. Lyrics and melody and chord structure and rhythm and instrumentation all must be in perfect synchronicity for the musician's message to be fully understood. In some pieces, the connections are obvious: Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is unmistakably a song of rejoicing to all of the western world. Country songs are almost notorious for matching tune to lyric in the simplest way. Even some of the rock music of the 1970s and early 80s match so well that both the lyric and the instrumentation stand alone to communicate a message.
Other times that connection is so subtle that is may be missed in the first several hearings. Poulenc's Gloria at first gives new meaning to "make a joyful NOISE," but after rehearsing it for several weeks, I am learning to see the connections between the unusual rhythms and chord structures to the familiar Latin words. Laudamus Te is so joyful that it may appear irreverant at first. Domine Deus has so many awkward transitions, key changes, and chromaticisms that it is uncomfortable to sing. Yet, considering the meaning of the words (You who bears the sin of mankind, be merciful to us. Hear our prayer), the composition makes perfect sense. Sin is supposed to be uncomfortable. The Savior was born to die for our sins. Somehow a lyrical melody just isn't right for that message. This movement mimics the tears and brokenness of the truly repentant before resolving in the next movement: Qui Sedes Ad Dexteram Patris (Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God.) Worship meets mercy. Amen.
One of my favorite sayings is this:
Monday, November 24, 2008
I am so glad that God has protected our family through all the highs and lows of the last 10 years. We are blessed to be able to come together with laughter.
So, with that in mind, today I am grateful for Girlfriends! I have been blessed with girlfriends in a multitude of places, and each set is unique:
There are my neighborhood girlfriends whom I play tennis with (okay, mostly I cheer them on) and celebrate birthdays with. (And with our group, there is usually at least one birthday to celebrate with lunch each month.)
Then there are my scrapbook/stamping girlfriends. We all share a passion for preserving memories and creating beautiful things for the benefit of others. We laugh an awful lot, too!
There are my online girlfriends. I may never meet some of them in person, but those relationships build and grow and sometimes are a support group when one member goes through trials. Online friends can be an objective sounding board or just a safe place to vent frustrations and share joys. Some of my online girlfriends are prayer warriors, and it is wonderful to know that we can pray for one another across miles, across continents, and across oceans.
Church girlfriends are always special. We may only see them once a week, but at least we know we share a faith and an eternity. These are the girlfriends I work with and serve with and minister with.
And finally there are the "BFFs." In the contemporary vernacular, "best friend forever" is almost flippant and cliche. But once or twice in a lifetime, there are girlfriends who see beyond the surface to the marrow of the bones. These are the girlfriends who are there through thick and thin. Distance doesn't matter. Time doesn't matter. These girlfriends are the special gift from God to keep us grounded and real and authentic. There is a unique bond in this friendship, and I am so grateful that God has given me just that kind of friend. We may be 2600 miles apart and we may be impossibly busy, but we are connected by heartstrings and will truly be "best friends forever."
Isn't it wonderful how God meets all our relational needs--even the ones for birthday lunches and tennis matches? Friendship is a gift...and I am grateful for my girlfriends!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Tonight Brian and I got to go to a nice restaurant--just the two of us--as a gift from his boss for work well done. It was quite a treat to sit without any agenda except to enjoy each other's company. (Thank you, Althea!) We have been together now for more than 23 years, and we are still both friends and partners. It always comes as a shock when we hear about divorces among our friends who married the same time we did. Each time we hear of another marriage in crisis, we resolve all the more to make sure that our relationship is stable and secure.
I am so blessed to have a husband who loves me beyond any shadow of doubt. God is good and I am grateful.
For example, my birthday was months ago and a dear friend from forever ago sent me a gift card to a store that I never frequent because it seems an extravagance. Somehow in all the craziness that is my life, I misplaced it. I then forgot about it. Then last week I was doing some purging of my dear husband's office area (do we really need the notes from a business meeting in 2006?) In one of the piles I spied that little pink card. Woohooo! An extra little blessing during a pretty lean time.
So, after school I decided to go and redeem my birthday gift. I just enjoyed meandering around the store and not feeling rushed. Another little blessing: a time to just meander! I found just the thing, on sale, even. I left the store with my little bag feeling calm and relaxed and just happy.
In that same shopping center there is a store that sells the yummiest fragraced lotions and such. I found two coupons in my wallet and allowed myself to indulge in another little luxury--for half price. God is so good. His little unexpected blessings encourage me and lift my spirits.
Today I am grateful for the little things.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So, for today, I choose to be grateful for forgiveness. Small wrongs, big wrongs--they're all the same when it comes to a need to ask forgiveness. How much easier is it to to ask forgiveness than to live with guilt or fractured relationships. Granting forgiveness is equally beneficial. Bitterness is an ugly thing, especially for the Believer.
Of course, the Source of all forgiveness, that we give or need, is Christ. How much more have I been forgiven by God than any wrongs done to me by others? Paul wrote to the Colossians: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)
Wow...that's a tall order. Today, then, I am grateful for forgiveness, especially forgiveness made possible by the Resurrection. God is good!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I use all five senses in everything I do. Vision, of course, is the one I use the most--and usually without considering just how amazing the mechanism is. Music is such a part of my life that my sense of hearing is priceless to me. I love the sounds of my girls laughing together. I miss the sound of the Pacific Ocean waves crashing on the shore. The wind through the trees in my Georgia backyard reminds me of the ocean, and I find it relaxing.
To smell and to taste--I love good food. The smell of bread baking is the sweetest fragrance I know. When Brian cooks (which is most of the time) I know that not only will his creations fill the hole in my belly, but my soul as well. Of course there are other scents that I love: orange blossoms, star jasmine, honey suckle, salty ocean air...the list goes on and on.
And then there is touch. I am a kinesthetic learner; I learn by touching, manipulating, and doing. I love using textures in my art. Fabrics with interesting weaves or embellishments make me feel creative and unique.
God said that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). I need to remember that more often and give thanks that God put me together just the way I am for His purposes and His ultimate glory. Today, then, I am thankful for my body.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Today I am grateful for my students. I never in a MILLION years thought I would be a teacher, but God knew better. I have the most fun in class (most of the time) and I just love watching them grow in confidence and in writing skills. I push them pretty hard, but they always rise to the challenges, and in the end we all learn from each other and have some laughs along the way.
Is it easy? No way. There are plenty of frustrations along the way either in my preparation/communication or in assignments that don't get done by students. However, those pale in comparison to the delight when I see "eureka" in the eyes of a student who had struggled to understand a concept or technique or rationale that I had tried to explain in a hundred ways!
The best part, though, is the relationships outside of the classrom that develop. I have the best time watching my students at non-school activities...and love it when they call my name and wave madly. God knew, even when I said "NEVER" to the idea of teaching, that I would find richness in teaching the next generation.
Never say never---and be grateful always that God's plan is better than anything you can ask or imagine!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today I will begin with how much I appreciate the internet. I know it sounds funny, but truly, having the world at my fingertips amazes me. How many people would I never have met if not for my art and craft groups? How many things would I have never learned if it wasn't so easy to look things up to satisfy my curiosity?
The internet brings me world cultures and perspectives that I may never have considered without it. I can chat with people all over the world and I can re-connect with friends from long ago.
The internet allows my extended family to keep in touch even though we live all over the US. We can share the little events of life along with pictures and we can even play games together from a thousand miles away.
So, yes, I am grateful for the internet!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Nature is inspiring and art is therapy, so it should be no surprise that my sojourn into the hills found its way into my studio. I had scraps of delicious color left over from another project, so I used that as my primary paper source.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Spending a day alone enjoying God's creation was just what I needed to refresh my spirit.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Beverly Webb was one of the mightiest prayer warriors I have ever known. Diagnosed with Stage IV cancer back in January, she fought back with a cheerful spirit and a determination to persevere in prayer and meditation on God's Word. At her funeral, the pastor read from her own private journals where she copied favorite scriptures in multiple versions. She listed every prayer request, along with God's answer to it. I know my name was in there somewhere because she sent me a card when I had my neck surgery in June. She just wanted me to know that she was praying for me. She rarely missed a choir rehearsal or a Sunday morning worship service--even in her last month. She and her husband, Lee, were married 49 years, and their joyful bond was evident to all who met them.
JoAnne Hoffman brought laughter everywhere she went. Quirky, opinionated, and lovable, JoAnne was my rubber-stamping buddy and Muse. She and her husband, Ed, hosted me at their home near San Antonio for the Angel Company winter retreat a couple of years ago...and what fun we had! JoAnne lived every moment of her life to the full. She traveled the world teaching rubber stamping on cruise ships--only JoAnne could land that gig! Her heart was as big as Texas, and her sense of fun was contagious. I loved being around her. I'm glad I called her just two weeks ago to check on her and let her know that I loved her. I miss her already.
So there it is. Two lives, lived in different places. Two women with completely different personalities and passions, but both holding places in my memory. In my imagination I'm certain that Beverly will share her music with JoAnne, and JoAnne will teach Beverly all about rubber stamp art. I can take comfort knowing that I will see them both again--fully healthy, cancer-free, brimming over with joy. They leave me a legacy of remembering to enjoy all of life, every day, and living to be a blessing to others. I hope I can leave that kind of legacy someday.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Six weeks ago, Caroline became a big sister. I missed her when her mama was on maternity leave, so I was delighted to have BOTH girls again last week. Abigail is as precious as her big sister and I'm looking forward to being doubly blessed. Isn't God good?
Monday, October 06, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
There is something about September that just silences my Muse. Maybe it's the schedule. It seems like there is so much running around that there isn't time to just BE...
I have enjoyed a little photography in all the hither and yon...and I've made some cards for various swaps and Stamper's Quest...still, I would love to have a guilt-free day with my Muse sometime soon!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
If a tree falls in in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep,does it still make a sound?
After days of rain and wind (thanks to Tropical Depression, Fay) I do know that the answer to the title question is undeniably "YES!"
I woke with a start last night (okay, more like 3 am) when a loud thud shook the house. Lexi, Queen of Barking Greyhounds, went out to investigate (loudly), so Brian got up to check things out. Seeing nothing, he figured it was a microburst of wind and went back to sleep.
By dawn's early light, however, the source of interrupted sleep was clearly evident: a massive tree in our backyard gave up trying to keep its roots in the soggy ground and fell to the ground, taking a half dozen smaller trees and two portions of the fence with it! Now there is a nice clearing up at the top of the hill, and lot of cleaning up to do! Most of the work is just is removing branches and tree from the neighbor yards and fixing the fence. The tree itself will become the earth--and the cycle of life will repeat over time.
That's Dolce in the hole where the tree used to be rooted!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Stamper's Quest has been well-recieved---beyond my wildest imaginings. Over 18,000 hits in three weeks--there must have been a hunger among rubber stamp artists for something new.
Carrie is off to college and in just a few days has settled into dorm life, classes, and a whole new adventure. It's exciting to see her move forward with her life. We're thankful for unlimited text messaging on our cell phones, but after all the years of uncertainty, it's is a joy to see her spread her wings and prepare to fly.
Of course, Caty Mae and Corinne are fully involved with classes and homework and swimming and band---and church activities, too. My own classes begin next week, so by Labor Day, the schedule for the rest of the year will be completely in place. Bring it on!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
It's true!!! Stamper's Quest is up and live and for real!!!!!
When my favorite stamping magazine sold to a general crafters publication, I was first sad and then mad. How dare they!! So many publications were abandoning their stamping customers--moving toward scrapbooking, mixed media, or really eclectic stuff. I love these art forms, but it seems like rubber stampers--especially card makers-- get the short end of the publication stick.
So, I chattaed with a friend who felt the same way I did. We wondered whether an e-zine would come along to fill that artistic void. At about the same time (it's scary how much we think alike), we decided WE could publish an e-zine. She has web and publishing skills, I have editorial skills, and we both had a vision. Within a few weeks we had a plan for an on-line magazine that would seek out the best tools and techniques and ideas and inspirations for every rubber stamper to find his or her unique artistic grail.
We invited 5 of the most talented artists we knew to be our designers (we're good, but we don't know everything!) We decided to create projects on three different levels so that every stamper from beginning to advanced could find something new to learn. We also decided that the first four editions would have color themes to uinify them. We added a blog, original sketches, and product reviews. Hopefully soon we'll have advertisers as well. A full-color PDF looks like a print version of the e-zine's projects.
Today our imaginings are reality and Stamper's Quest is ready for a close up!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I've been teaching myself PhotoShop Elements 5.0. Today I learned how to do a drop shadow. I also wrote the haiku. (I tried to find something I liked in all my poetry books, but couldn't. However, having written this one, I know I will incorporate the discipline into my lesson plans for next year!)
Monday, July 14, 2008
Must be summer....
Stamps from The Angel Company. Ink is Kaleidacolor "Calypso." Scoop shape is QuickKutz (I love my Silhouette!!!!!) Cone is cut and scored for texture. The best thing about this ice cream cone: No Calories!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Our Star-Spangled Banner captures the essence of who we Americans are: free and brave and hopeful and determined and proud. Long may it wave!
Take Six singing The Star-Spangled Banner:
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Who knew there would be an actual athlete in our family? Before moving to Georgia three-plus years ago, swimming was limited to the blow-up pool in our back yard. Here most neighborhoods have neighborhood pools and neighborhood swim teams. Caty Mae took to the water like...well, like a fish. She swims year round, working hard and loving it. It's been fun to watch her improve her technique and her time. She now has better times than the boys on the neighborhood team--the boys in the next age group.
You GO girl!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I have always admired missionaries. Leaving the familiar behind and taking on unknown challenges had to require amazing faith and courage. I contented myself with prayer and financial support and hosting and making meals for missionaries. It was safe--and necessary.
Then God started moving my life around. Having a child with unique needs, moving across the country, watching God unfold His plan so obviously--there was no doubt that I depended on Him for my sustenance day by day. Life at home really wasn't "safe" but required as much faith and courage as the unknown. Tomorrow IS the great unknown.
My perspective began to change, ever so slightly. The church we attend in our new home is VERY mission-minded--more so than most. Mission trips are not limited to once a year with the high school or a few select long term missionaries who come through every three or four years renewing their support. Those faithful servants are STILL the backbone of spreading the Gospel around the world to every culture, but I began seeing different ideas in action.
This same church puts out an annual call for service. (That's one of the things I appreciate about this church--they aren't satisfied with giving the congregants information and hoping something happen: they expect things to happen. And funny thing, their expectations are usually met.) On the form that everyone received was a list of ministries: music, hospitality, teaching, recreation, and a host of other opportunities. Among them was "short-term missions." I checked that box, along with music, drama, and teaching (all things I am passionate about) and handed it to the usher. And promptly forgot all about it. It wasn't like I suddenly had a "burning bush" moment and a desire to go to the jungles of the Amazon. I just checked it.
Months later I was practically ambushed by an acquaintance in the choir as I searched for a table at Wednesday night supper. She was planning a short trip to Romania to lead Christian Womens' conferences and she just knew that I would fill a necessary place on the team. Romania? Me? That was just too random to be an accident, so I told her I would watch and pray. God worked out all the details in timing and funding, so off I went for nearly two weeks. I left a bit of my heart there in Romania, and found myself looking forward to returning.
As I was getting excited about returning to Romania, God was mapping out a different trip. A member of our Sunday School class returned from her trip to the orphanages of Bulgaria and told me that I needed to go on the next trip to Bulgaria as there were some teenage girls who needed love and attention from an adult (but cool) woman who was passionate about teens. I was already thinking about Romania, so I didn't commit to anything. Having learned to watch God in action, I kept my mind, heart, and eyes open. .
Then I got the dates for the Romania trip---the same as Carrie's graduation. Well, that took care of that. Romania was not part of the plan for 2008. And then Bulgaria came to the front again. Watch and pray--and God worked all the details again--and I was on a team headed to Bulgaria.
This trip was VERY different. In Romania I was working with Christian adults. In Bulgaria we were presenting the love of God to young people from ages 8-20. Instead of preparing talks on how to live a fruitful Christian life, I prepared crafts for kids and teens. The language was harder to understand. (Romania uses the Roman alphabet, while Bulgaria uses a Cyrillic.) The needs were different, the focus was different, the stories were very different. Even though the countries border one another (from one hotel we looked across the Danube into Romania) they share very little since the fall of communism. Bulgaria is far behind in every imaginable way.
God always surprises me with His plan. I gave up trying to predict my future a LONG time ago. I have learned to be content with every day. Even though I still desire to return to the women of Romania, God had a purpose for me in Bulgaria. It was another new experience. He is sovereign over all things; I am along for the ride wherever it takes me--even to the ends of the earth.