Over the past few weeks, I have been stewing about scripture to select for the upcoming Art, Vocabulary of the Soul Retreat. It has been a slow process. As I think back over the last few years and every time, it usually is a slow process. I read the Bible and I listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, I wait some more. I talk to others and come back to it. I listen to the stories of some of the participants coming and I wait some more for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I am waiting for the peace that comes when it is altogether.

As I wait there is a battle going on inside of me, with my inner critics vociferously taking in my head. What if I get it wrong? What if I can not choose something that goes together? What if everyone hates it? What if I fail to listen when God has nudged me? I don’t want to wait, and listen. I want it solved and ready. It all feels a bit like crashing waves, violent and powerful battering the peace I desire.

Paul writes in Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…"

These are valid fears and feelings. It is my ego, or as Paul talks about it in Romans, my flesh, that condemns me. It condemns, because when I am relying on my self I cannot live up to the ego’s standards. But praise be to God there is another perspective. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The way past the inner critics is to acknowledge the fears and then turn the perspective. This isn’t about me.

Later in Romans 8, Paul wrote in verses 15-16, "the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."238wild bty word1000w

I am God’s daughter; I belong to him. In that perspective I can look past myself and see. Who is God gathering together, and what does He want to do for the weekend? Even if this is not always easy to do, to let go and trust the process. As I trust the process, I am turning myself over to God, and trusting my Father. I am trusting that he will meet me here as I prepare, that the people he wants to be there will be, and that he will meet with each person coming. Trusting the process is letting God lead me as slowly as he chooses to, and not racing ahead on my own. After all, is it slow because I get in the way?

For all of that I am excited for the retreat, I look forward to seeing what God will do in each person there. God has shown this time after time that He does meet each person there and amazing things happen every time. I look forward to seeing what he will do this time.

Our numbers for the retreat are complete. The scripture is selected and I can now get excited for the retreat. Please partner with us in prayer: as we each prepare our hearts to hear what God has in store for us and as we participate in the weekend – June 24-26.

Puzzles and Commissions

The month of January slipped away from me…

My daughters and I drove down to stay a week with my parents and sister in Spokane, WA. It had been 2 years since I saw them last in person. I have been thankful for being able to “see” them via zoom, but even so, it was good to be really face to face.

My sister, Dad and my daughter, Natalia, all like putting a puzzle together. Since I knew this and wanted to do something they enjoyed, I selected one.

Putting puzzle pieces together was a bit of an exercise in self awareness.

Of all the puzzles to choose from, I chose the one with the northern lights, even though I knew it would be more difficult with all the subtle shifts of color. (I am a bit obsessed with northern lights ?.)

As I worked on the sky section with all the nuances of green, I could feel the tension building within me the longer it took to find something that would fit. The lack of accomplishment in so small a thing that really isn’t that important was like seeing myself under a microscope. I could easily see this pattern, this tension and need for accomplishment rising within me. Then the unbounded joy of putting several pieces in right after another. I could even feel the failure and comparing myself toward the others who would occasionally walk up to the table, see one piece, and immediately put it in place in the puzzle.

puzzle  sky black to green

Early on, I recognized the tension building, I decided to work on the buildings to gain a sense of achievement. Then, I could go back to the night sky of dancing green and tackle it with fresh eyes after a break. This move helped me relax and laugh at myself, letting it go.

puzzle 3 buildings

All the feelings within me would still be there, but they had less power over me, which meant I didn’t have to act on it or let it control me as I have in the past. I could enjoy working together on the puzzle. Breathe, take my time, I did not have to be in a hurry to get things finished and get on to the next task.

It is good to see how far I have come on this journey of self awareness. It has been important as I work through paintings. Sometimes, it takes longer to get where I want the painting to go. The way I thought was not working and I must try for a new solution, do research, and try again. I need to wait for it.

I have been working on and thinking about a commission for over 11 months now. Just when I think I am ready to complete it and put it all together, another issue comes up that needs to be solved. I suppose I could have just done a straight painting, but the idea called for more, something unique. So, I have had to practice patience and waiting for the ideas to come, taking breaks to let ideas percolate and see it with fresh eyes. It is about a willingness to wait for the process and not rush it.

I had been hoping to have it finished to show you, maybe by next month it will be. Here is a picture of all pieces to this puzzle I am working on.

puzzle commissionI

I made a video of the pieces of the painting puzzle and explain a little more of the process I have been going through with the painting. Here it is:

 

 Since I filmed this, I have repainted the hands until I am satisfied with them and prepared the handmade paper for the stone background. Now the stages of putting it all together.