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The June Art Vocabulary for the Soul was amazing. I love teaching this retreat and seeing the creativity of the participants flow. The art mediums this time were watercolor, acrylic and oil, pastels and poetry.  We had people trying watercolor, oil and pastels for the first time.  

I took some pictures of the retreat and King's Fold Retreat Centre. The next Art vocabulary for the Soul retreat is July 4-6, 2025.

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What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?

Do you feel the difference with the different emphasis? Which phrase connected with you the most?

Waiting has been on my mind for over a month…

I put a show called "Waiting" up at the Glenrose rehabilitation hospital on Sept 27 reflecting on different aspects of waiting. It will be up until January 2. It is in the show cases on the basement level just outside the cafeteria.

Pigeon Lake Sunset “Waiting on the Lord” is the theme for the upcoming Art vocabulary for the Soul retreat (Nov 1-3) at the new Covenant Bay Bible Camp lodge. There are still a few places left. (register at CovenantBay.ca) I have songs and scripture selected to help us reflect and respond to with any art medium. This is a contemplative retreat that allows space for you to create, reflect and spend time with God.

Physically waiting for my shoulder to feel better – injured it the week after my son Nathaniel’s wedding. It has required a lot of resting, taking care of myself and just plain waiting to be able to go and do.  I have been forced to just “be.”

With all of this waiting, I have been able to rethink and reflect about the book on waiting that I was working on over four years ago but didn’t complete. I am finally ready to deal with some emotions and reactions I had during the editing process. I’ve learned some new things about waiting in the last few years. One thing I’ve learned is that I do not wait well. I want to run ahead. I want to “do” something. I can become impatient and bored if I cannot keep the goal or hope in front of me.  

On the phrases above, this is the one I resonate with: “What are you waiting for?” That is the impatient one to me – impatient with myself, with others, and impatient with God.

So often, I am like the Israelites in Isaiah 30: 15-18.

15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused 16 and said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”—
    therefore you shall flee!
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”—
    therefore your pursuers shall be swift!
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one,
    at the threat of five you shall flee,
until you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.
I am so thankful that God waits for me. He loves me. Twila Paris wrote a song with this line: “Could it be that He is only waiting there to see if I would learn to love the dream He has dreamed for me?”

Not only in learning to love the dream He has for me, but standing firm in the hear and now, in this present time, to let it come when it comes. Waiting on the Lord and trusting in Him and not running ahead on my own.

“I can’t imagine what the future holds, but I’ve already made my choice, and this is where I’ll stand until He moves me on, and I will listen to His voice” Twila Paris

How well do you wait?

This last week I was talking to my spiritual director about the conflict within me about rest. I feel guilty and useless when I rest even when I know I need to be doing it to let my injured muscles heal so they can again be strengthened. Knowing it and living it are two different things though. As I talked with her, she helped me to recognize the guilt and point out that the ambivalence doesn’t allow for rest and exacerbates the problem.

Our conversation led me back to our recent Art Vocabulary for the Soul retreat at the beginning of November. One of the scriptures we reflected on was Isaiah 30:15-18, which begins

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;  
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused…”

the passage goes on to talk about the Israelites refusal and running away and in the consequences of their flight finding themselves all alone:

“until you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.”

God was calling the Israelites back to him- return to me, repent. But they wanted to go their own way. In verse 18, we see God waiting for the Israelites to repent and return to him:

”Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.”

One of the participants at the retreat related to “the flagstaff on a mountain” and painted an oil painting of a desolately lonely, battered flagstaff on a very gray wintry mountain on a cold, gray day. It spoke volumes as it reflected our state when we run away to do things on our own.

pigeon lake with snowAt the retreat, my shoulder was bothering me so resting was on my mind. I painted the scene in front of us as we looked out the large windows at the lodge. The view was overlooking Pigeon Lake. The barren trees were already preparing for winter and a season of rest as the last of the leaves had fallen. Last week, my shoulder was feeling better, so I finally finished the painting I started at the retreat. As I look at this painting of resting, I am reminded that everything has a season. And this is my season for rest.

Well I have been here before. And I will be here again. I am like the Israelites. Are you?

Knowing and accepting my limits is part of the rest and taking care of myself that I continue to come face to face with. I am learning to ask for help as I need it - and not stubbornly going my own way.  I am listening to my body when it needs to rest.

I have another month to allow my body to heal and strengthen my shoulder before classes start up again. I look forward to Christmas with the family members here and a quick New Year’s visit in Spokane with my parents and sister.

In this Season of Christmas, may you find space to rest.

Merry Christmas

I love to watch birds soaring and flying.  The flocks that fly seemingly on cue from tree to tree, lifting off as one and looping together in choreographed turns and swirls make me laugh and smile. The grace of the egret as it unfurls its wings to take off is beautiful. Pelicans flapping in rhythm with their strong wings over the waves make me feel like I am surfing with them.  three geese landingGeese flying and calling, announce to all the turn of seasons.  The majestic eagle and hawk as they soar – I feel the freedom and peace of their stillness as they ride the wind hardly moving their wings.

Can you picture them? Do you watch them?

This summer, I started this painting of three geese coming in for a landing. And, as I was sitting at home looking at it, I saw on the wall above it four other paintings of “flight.”  My fascination with flight has stretched over many years.

In my youth I learned to play a song by John Denver that I still enjoy playing on the guitar.  It captures the essence of the Eagle and the Hawk.  It speaks of freedom of flight and dancing with the wind and being all that we can be. My heart wants to soar too. Add to that one of my favorite scripture passages: Isaiah 40:31. Do you know it?

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.

In John Denver’s song I heard God whispering to me of dancing on the wind like the birds, to be all that I can be as I wait on him and trust in his strength.

Since verse 31 in Isaiah begins with “but,” I looked at the verse in context to see what came before it:

Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint. (Is 40:27-31)

God doesn’t grow faint and weary. People grow faint and weary - even youth, but if they hold on to God, wait for him, he will renew their strength and like an eagle they will fly again.

 A few years ago, I wrote about this (read more) so I thought I would do a Cinquain or three in response today.

We did cinquains as a response exercise at the June, Art Vocabulary for the Soul retreat. It is a simple 5 line poem with a pattern. First line: 2 syllables, second line 4 syllables, third line 6 syllables, fourth line 8 syllables, 5th line 2 syllables.

OR 2 words, 4 words, 6 words, 8 words, 2 words. I did the syllable version.

Strong wings
riding airwaves
beautiful, majestic
lifting, soaring, turning, gliding

trusting in God
riding the air currents
soaring, lifting, gliding, landing
my flight

My flight
with wings like eagles
riding the air currents
trusting, believing, waiting, receiving

152eagle fish250w362egrt lndng 284wkite boarder

Write your own cinquain in response.

Next Art vocabulary for the Soul Retreat Nov 1-3 at Covenant Bay on Pigeon Lake.

Jade GriffenWe were in Victoria over Easter visiting with our grandchildren and their parents. On Easter morning, we rose early. As the dawn began to lighten the sky, my own anticipation grew within me.  My heart welling up in joy. Christ is risen, Indeed! I love the song I first heard Sandi Patti sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb1ayV5sTtM

Was it a morning like this?
When the sun still hid from Jerusalem,
And Mary rose from her bed
to tend the Lord she thought was dead…

Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?

Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound, "He is risen!"
Over and over in a never-ending round
"He is risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!"

EasterService350wI sang most of the way on the 20-minute drive to the beach where several congregations gathered to share in greeting the sunrise with an Easter service of singing, praising God. It was a beautiful morning the clouds were a blushing rose hue. The Cascades across the Strait of Juan de Fuca were clear and bathed in pale pink. And as we sang the sun broke over the hills. Glorious!

The week before Easter, I reworked the painting: A New Covenant for a Painting Prayers session for Lent for a women’s group. I was never quite satisfied with the part of the painting where the light was exploding out of the Holy of Holies “as the curtain was torn from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51), so I fixed it. This moment in time is a glorious event - The curtain that separated us from the Holy of Holies, God’s presence, was torn as Jesus breathed his last. It signifies a New Covenant that the old testament passage in Jeremiah refers to:

Holy of Hollies31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

We can be known and loved by the God of the universe. He will write it on our hearts, we can belong to him, know him. “I will be their God and they shall be my people.”  My heart sings glory and rejoices as it did on Easter morning.

Art is a work in progress. Is a painting ever finished? Maybe for a time. I put it in a mat, or get it framed and hang it on my wall, and I let it speak to me. I see things I didn’t before. I see connections, stories. And I sometimes see ways to repaint it, or ways to take it further to a new idea, or to improve it. Often, my paintings are my “windows to God.” Moments that I hear God speak to me in metaphor. I have shared some of that to you through my blogs and newsletters and in my book. Sometimes the same painting can speak to me differently than it did before. I may be done painting it, but the process continues with each person the painting connects with, like a story, that lives on with the retelling, with every person that it engages.

Like paintings, we are also works in progress.

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.

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