At our last art and faith retreat in June, the theme was Flourishing in the Unexpected. This flourishing is about staying present to the moment even when our instincts tell us to disengage, run in fear, tense up, or take control.
Take a breath, pause, and distance ourselves from the reaction we are feeling. Then letting it go to trust in God and walk through the situation with Him. This is abandonment to God as Madame Guyon talks about it.
Abandonment - it is not about doing so much as being still and receiving. The Interior is not a stronghold to be taken by storm and violence, but a kingdom of peace, which is to be gained only by love. ( p. 36, A Short Method of Prayer, Madame Guyon)
I have felt overwhelmed at times over the last few months. One day, after I had finished talking to two different clients and still needed to write up the quotes, I came out to the kitchen for lunch and my daughter was there. As we talked, I became aware of how tense my shoulders were. The conversations had not been tense or difficult in any way, but I had so many other tasks and appointments ahead that I was just feeling overwhelmed. My daughter started rubbing my shoulders and told me to just breathe. (which is what we have been encouraging her to do as she has dealt with her own issues)
As I breathed and allowed my body to relax, the tension eased. My perspective shifted. All the items on my to do list didn’t magically disappear. But as I distanced myself from my reaction by breathing, I could see that my fear of failure and worry about what others think of me had coloured my view, again. As I let it go, I could again trust God to walk with me through it, trusting that what needs to get done today, would get done.
The Enneagram has been helpful for me as I come to understand myself in these situations. The fears I have, the things that trigger my ego to panic/ survival mode, are not going to go away. I have been working on these patterns for 53 years. But as I breathe and separate myself from the reaction, I can sometimes let my ego go and trust God instead of myself.
Flourishing in the unexpected is not about great success or everything going great. Instead it is a willingness to trust God, let go of our hold/desire for control of the situation, just breathe and relax. It is learning to trust God with the process of our lives, walking forward on the journey into pain and suffering, joy and sorrow, fear and disappointment and hope.
Ways I Work on Listening
Would you like to experience one of our retreats?
Was it just me, or did it seem like winter didn't want to let go this year?
Winter letting go is like the old passing away so the new can come. Think about the scripture that talks about old ways letting go so the new way can come:
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is 43:19
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ Rev 21:4
Every year I look forward in anticipation to spring - The hope, the new life. Buds bursting forth. The creeks and river flowing with the snow melt. Even how it feels like people are coming out of the hibernation (we hole up in our homes in the cold weather for 5+ months). The parks are filling up with activities of baseball and soccer, families at the playground, people are out walking and biking. We can actually see and greet our neighbors now that we aren't just dashing from house to car. We linger and enjoy the warmth of the sun.
As I move into spring and new life, what old things must pass away? What baggage or regrets, pain or loss can be set aside, or let go of, OR to think of it another way… What new life is coming in with the spring?
Ways I am engaging in the spring:
Take some time to sit in the sunshine and soak in the spring, notice the buds bursting, the new life flowing. Let it renew you, too.
In what ways are you engaging in new life this spring?
Saturday, October 27 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
$100 Fee includes all supplies!
In this class you will have the opportunity to make a variety of papers from natural and recycled fibres. We will begin by making 6 to 8 different paper pulps such as cattail, thistle, poplar fluff, blue jeans and more, out of seeds, cotton fabric, and recycled acid-free paper. You will then create papers from each of the pulp vats, using the templates provided. You will take home 10 to 15+ unique pieces of paper. All the pressed leaves, paper and natural fibers are provided. If you want, you can bring some of your own inclusions like pressed leaves or flowers to add to your pulp.
You may wish to bring suitable art clothes, notebook, snack & drink.
Images below are from the Papermaking Workshop on Nov 12, 2016.
I love wildflowers – maybe because no one planted them and they are just there to be. I am thrilled to come across fields of them when hiking. I look for them on the forest floors. Some are so tiny, they are easy to miss. They are not usually in cultivated gardens. That would, after all, go against the definition of a wildflower:
a flower of an uncultivated variety or a flower growing freely without human intervention.
Do you know how you are supposed to plant a packet of wildflower seeds – randomly toss the seeds over a designated space of soil and lightly cover with top soil.
Since I planted them – does that make them cultivated and not wild? Is it intervention when I move them back to the part of the garden where I want them to stay?
Wildflowers can be beautiful weeds when they pop up where you don't want them. They are hardy plants that flourish in difficult places. They do not require great care. They are tenacious, they travel and do not stay in one nice uniform place in my garden.
I finished this painting of wildflowers, Bloom Where You Are Planted, (10 x 7 in, watercolor) during the Deep Freeze festival this month. The process of this painting reflects on the subject matter.
Part one - arbitrary, haphazard. (Wildflowers show up wherever there is a bit of dirt – not planted or planned.)
During a watercolor class I was teaching, I started this piece as a demonstration for pouring watercolor. I had a vague plan… I arbitrarily masked out bits of possible flowers and a butterfly. This would save the white of the paper for later. While I waited for it to dry, I prepared three small containers of watery watercolor: green, blue and pink.
I wet down the paper, poured on the paint, threw on some table salt and placed some rock salt at random intervals. Using a bit of hard plastic, I quickly made random strokes for grass lines. I let it dry.
I wanted stronger colors, so I masked out some places I wanted to keep from the first pouring. I prepared three more cups of watery watercolor and poured it on. Salted again and waited for the result.
After it was completely dry, I took off the masking fluid and salt.
Part two – Turning dabs into flowers wherever they show up. (Wildflowers bloom wherever they are. I have found chamomile growing in cracks in the sidewalk.)
This is the stage that I brought to the Deep Freeze festival to work on. Once the masking fluid and salt were removed, I could see the different parts that were saved. Now came the point of turning the random bits of white into the flowers and a butterfly. I looked through some photo refences of wildflowers to get possible ideas for both the flowers and the butterfly. The flowers are asters, daisies, black eyed susans and additional flowers from the ideas of others. The butterfly is a combination of several butterflies.
It is fun to see where it can go. This is a good challenge for me to not have everything figured out ahead of time, as I often try to control too much. It allows me to trust the process, letting the flowers bloom where they fell on the page.
Like the hardy wildflowers that bloom wherever their seeds fall, we too can bloom where we are ‘planted.’ We do not have to always be in control – really. I was thinking of this as I was reading in Jeremiah chapter 29. Jeremiah tells the people in exile to build houses have families… go about life. Don’t live as if your current situation is temporary. Don’t wait to be present until some ‘tomorrow’ comes. They are going to be there for awhile (70 years). He is calling them to bloom where they have been (trans)planted. They need the hardiness of wildflowers to bloom in unfamiliar territory. And through Jeremiah, God promises that he has plans for them.
Bloom. Be. Do what you do. Shine. Make the world a beautiful place.
Wildflowers do that. Can I?
As we forge ahead into 2018, are you prepared for the adventure?
It is the time of year, when I think of goals and plans. Yet, I know, even though we may make many plans, life has a way of taking us on unexpected turns.
This last year, I studied abiding in Jesus and being present. So, as I begin this year, I wonder if there is a way to be present and think of goals and dreams without losing focus and heart when “life takes an unexpected turn?”
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Can I be like the tree and withstand the “unexpected” droughts and storms? And not just survive, but flourish and bear fruit? How deeply am I rooted?
Growing my “Roots”
I take time with God each morning.
I listen as I read scripture and journal.
In listening, I let go.
I am still in order to open my heart and hear.
Sometimes I receive amazing ideas that make me think and dig deeper.
Sometimes I see images.
Sometimes I cry.
Sometimes it feels dry and void.
At times, I am inspired to paint or write.
I am trusting God in the process and waiting on him.
As I spend time in His word, I am sinking my roots down.
Since early November, I have been working through the first 17 chapters of the book of Jeremiah. The tidbits I have been gleaning are beginning to coalesce. This morning, I had a glimpse of where it may be taking me. Finally, I am getting somewhere tangible! Exciting!
I can make goals, but they often feel arbitrary, intangible and hard to pursue until I feel this connection to where God is leading me.
The more I trust God and let go and wait for the process, the more the roots can grow and find nourishment in God, the Living Water.
I have hopes to finish another book this year, to paint flowers and birds for a solo show in October, write another song for the June retreat. Read more. Journal more. Paint more. Spend time with family and friends.
But most of all, I want to walk where God is leading me. I want to be like the tree that is planted by the water that deeply sends out its roots so that it can flourish in the unexpected turns that life brings.
I look forward to the adventure of what 2018 may bring …
And sharing it with you.
I spend a lot of my quiet time with God, reading the prophets. In them, I hear God’s heartfelt cry for his people to “turn to him and live!” He speaks of what he does for his people and would do much, much more if only they would seek him, seek his face.
Isaiah 45:21b-23New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
There is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is no one besides me.
22 Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
Jeremiah 24:6-8New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
Jeremiah 31:33-34New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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.
Isaiah 7:14New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman[b] is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Matthew 1:22-24New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,
This time of year we can see how much he loves us, when he made a way to come down and be with us through his son, Jesus. This baby would grow up among us and show us the way to walk with God. He is Immanuel, God with us.
I love the phrase in Jeremiah “They shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Immanuel. I belong to him. We belong to him. He cares. He loves. He is with us.
May you experience the joy of God's love and Immanuel this holiday season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Nina Haggerty Building
Gallery hours: Saturday and Sunday 12 - 6 pm
Artisan Market Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12 - 6 pm
"We are pleased to announce that the eleventh-annual Deep Freeze: Byzantine Winter Festival will be held on January 13 & 14, 2018 and will be situated along four closed blocks of Alberta (118) Avenue between 90 and 95 Streets.
The Deep Freeze Byzantine Winter Festival is a free family event that brings together Ukrainian, Franco-Albertan, Franco-African, Indigenous, and Acadian/East Coast communities to revel in the magic and beauty of winter. Come embrace our cold northern climate by melding artistic panache with authentic cultural and heritage winter games!
This year’s theme Into The Winter Grove will offer exciting opportunities for both patrons and artists creating unexpected experiences celebrating the community through its urban landscape and exceptional spaces." quoted from DeepFreezeFest.ca
To see this year's schedule: http://www.deepfreezefest.ca/schedule/
When I was a little girl, the Christmas angel visited our home on this day while we were at church and left us each a gift. I remember the feelings of surprise and wonder and joy.
Joy is a word we hang on our Christmas tree and in decorations. We sing about it at Christmas. It is more than happy. How would you describe joy?
Joy is soul deep. It is happiness and contentment, a rightness to the universe, a “God is with me and I have nothing to fear, “ all wrapped up together and tucked deep in my soul. For me, joy bubbles up and overflows when I allow myself to be present to a situation even in sorrow. It can show up in the form of tears, song, inspiration, confidence and a smile.
After the June 2017 Art and Faith retreat, I explored what joy looked like. Our theme at the retreat was “Abiding in Jesus.” Linnea Good, our guest leader, shared her biblical storytelling with us. As she told the story of John 15, we listened for what the Holy Spirit was illuminating for us in the passage, what stood out. We listened twice and then we responded with drawing or painting.
I started with thinking about the phrase Jesus said, "…Apart from me you can do nothing…"
I started drawing shapes that had a sense of being attached at the top of the page, connected to God. As I drew, the shapes took on vine like people shapes and developed joyful lines. I felt this sense of joy associated with the abiding and attachment. I thought how hard life is when I choose to do things on my own. It can be exhausting like the poor exhausted, deflated figure on the right side of the drawing.
When I felt I was finished, I felt from my little figures this sense of joy that the second phrase spoke of: “…that your joy may be complete…”
When I came home from the retreat, my little joy characters intrigued me. What would it be like to let them dance across a few paintings?
At the Art, Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat last weekend, we contemplated “Resting in Jesus” and responded with paintings, poetry, song writing and just being in community together. It was so beautiful! This group of eleven was great and we felt so blessed to have spent the weekend together.
We were also honored to have Rev. Larry Lindoff and his wife Colleen join us as special guests this time. Larry shared with us on Saturday his own journey of understanding “Resting in Jesus.” He reflected on the Mary and Martha story (Luke 10:38-42) ... Martha gets a lot of flak. Martha was distracted.
What if it wasn’t the doing that was the problem, but how she was “worried and distracted” as she was doing it. If she slowed down and was able to be present to Jesus’ teaching as she worked would it have been the same? What if we can restfully do our work, being present to the situation we are in; not going at the frantic, hectic pace our world seems to thrive on?
I appreciated that thought. I have been listening to Russ Hudson, a teacher of the Enneagram. He talks a lot about being present, and slowing down enough to feel present as we are “doing.”
But sometimes we do need to “just be,” like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.
“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
Several years ago, I took a personal retreat at King’s Fold. It had been a busy time and I was feeling exhausted. I found that all I could do was sit on the benches and look at the view. It was the first time I really understood what Madeleine L’Engle described as “being time.” No agenda, no thoughts, no books, no “should’s, or “have to”s, just being, just “here I am, resting.” I found that all I could do was just sit there and be quiet with God. I was too exhausted in my spirit to do anything else. It was an anomaly.
As we listened to the scriptures last weekend particularly the one about not worrying because God will provide as he does for the birds of the air and lilies of the field (Matt 6:25-34), I heard from God to “Just Be.” So, when we sent people out to listen, I went out on a bench and sat in the sunshine to just rest and sit in God’s presence and napped in the sunshine until lunchtime. It gave me the energy to be present to each of the people I was teaching and sharing with in the long afternoon session.
Later, as I was cleaning up, a simple melody came with simple praise words. I believe it came out of my content and joyful sense of being at rest that I was experiencing during the retreat. The song has been continuing to play in my mind as I work this week.
It is nice to feel at rest and not frantic while doing or being.
The onWORD conference with the EPWahl Centre and Taylor Seminary, Sep 29-30, 2017, has invited eighteen artists to show their painted interpretations of the story of the Prodigal Son, the theme of the conference. There will be 30 paintings altogether. I feel privileged to have two paintings in the show. Let me tell you about them.
Prodigal son painting: When He Came To Himself, Acrylic on Canvas, 16” x 20”
The prodigal had squandered his inheritance, all that he had received from his father. The only job he could find was feeding pigs, which for Jews, who believed that pigs were unclean, was the lowest of the low.
While feeding the pigs, he comes to himself. He has an awakening, a realization. He sees the truth of himself and the situation he has made for himself. He is ready to face himself and what he has done. He envisions his journey back to humble himself before his father in repentance.
To the left in the painting is the darkness out of which he is emerging, his rich purple robes are in tatters, the pigs are a barrier of going home. He comes awake to himself, realizing where he’s been and what he left behind. In his coming awake, he is ready to surrender; surrender his will, his waywardness, all that had driven him from his father’s house. He imagines going home and falling to his knees before his father, hoping for a place among the servants.
As I thought about this and worked on the painting, I considered that it is not only the prodigal son who needs to come to himself, but the older brother, too, who needs to come awake, to see himself before he too can be set free of his own burdens and self-righteousness.
This is where the second painting comes in: I am Loved, Acylic on Gallery Canvas, 20” x 24”
Both brothers have a misconception of the Father. The younger hopes to be forgiven and gain a place among the servants. The older brother only sees a task master. The truth is the Father loves both sons as they are, not for their actions. He is waiting to welcome them into his embrace. He ran to meet the younger brother and had a celebration. He came outside to find the older brother to bring him into the celebration, “Son, you are always with me, and everything that is mine is yours.”
At times, I have felt myself in different parts of the story. More often, I find myself in the older brother’s part, as I still need to ‘Come to myself,’ to wake up and be aware of my own self-righteous actions and motivations that take me away from the Father. Then I, too, can go to the Father and feel again his great love for me as his daughter.
Where are you in the story?
The paintings will be on display at the onWORD Conference Sept 29-30 at Bethel lutheran Church. There will be a silent auction for the paintings. Sign up today to take in the conference and see the artists’ interpretations of the Prodigal Son.
South Korea is a beautiful, mountainous country. What a fun adventure to travel and meet up with our daughter, Reena, who had been living with host families and attending grade 11 in South Korea for 11 months. We experienced her fluency as she conversed with the people around us as we traveled, shopped and ordered food. We even spent an energy filled sports day with her school, which was a peek into the Korean culture.
We learned to say the greeting phrase and the phrase for “thank you.” We stayed in people’s homes with airbnb. We ate with chopsticks. We took the public transportation in the cities and we rented a car for the last week to go into the countryside with a Korean language GPS system that Reena got to type in the destinations in Korean.
I took 15-30 minutes here and there to sketch and do mini watercolors in my watercolor sketchbook. From these and the phots I will be able to create new artwork in my studio this year. Here are some of them...
an Art and Faith Retreat
What a great group to spend the weekend with!!
Friday night creating and getting to know one another:
Taking a walk, enjoying the views
We had a great time creating, listening and resting.
We filled the walls with our creations.
We even learned how to play the ukulele at a campfire with Linnea Good.
I want to say a BIG thank you to each one who came for the blessing they gave us of their presence, their time, and their creativity as we shared and created together.
Did you miss this retreat?...The next Art: Vocabulary For the Soul Retreat is in October and sign up has already begun. Early bird price through July 11, 2017.
Don't miss out..sign up today.
4 Drawing Classes
Sept 11-Oct 2, 2017
7 - 9 pm
Location: 6724 - 86 St, Edmonton
Do you need to brush up on your drawing skills? We will work on perspective, proportion, composition and lighting. This class will mainly focus on the drawing needed as preparation for paintings. The other aspects of drawing will also come up. There will be homework for inbetween classes.
2H + 6B pencil
photos: picture for each week's subject that you want to paint
One weekend in early June, my sister and I camped in Jasper. I did some sketching, a painting and a lot of photography for future paintings. We traversed a mucky, slippery trail up to the first Geraldine lake, hoping to see the waterfall between the two lakes. Although we saw it in the distance, the river and lake had swollen to cover the trail. We bush whacked and crossed on rocks to get all the way to the lake as it was. We were disappointed that we couldn’t get to the falls, but I pulled out my watercolors and painted the essence of the lake before we headed back down the mountainside. I can work from it later or add more to it. My sister, Laura, did get a nice shot of the Geraldine Falls with her telephoto lens.
We drove to see some other waterfalls since we couldn’t get to that one. And they were beautiful. (You can see me sketching one of them in the picture above. The sketch is below. Tangle Falls, Jasper. We would not have driven all the way down to see this beautiful falls if we had continued bushwacking to the other falls.)
Not all of our plans turn out. We have a choice when we are faced with our plans falling through or not turning out as we anticipate. We can get angry, or upset, we can let the disappointment govern our actions, or we can acknowledge the feelings and look for what did happen and the new possibilities before us. Even little disappointments, can greatly affect us. It is in learning to deal well with the little disappointments, that we know how to face the major disappointments and trials when they come.
In the book of Ruth in the Bible, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law faced a major crises. They had lost their husbands. They start heading back to Naomi’s homeland, Israel. Although Naomi tried to send them back to their parents, Ruth chose to remain with Naomi. Ruth embraced Naomi’s God and the path she was going on. This speaks to me of who Naomi was that Ruth was willing to go wherever Naomi went. It also speaks of Naomi’s faith, that Ruth would embrace it for her own.
They embraced the moment, taking one moment at a time, even acknowledging the pain. Naomi said to the Israelite women, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara,“ which means bitter.
As we learn to live in the moment, abiding in Jesus today, then we can face what comes. He will give us what we need this day, this moment.
I have had a number of small disappointments lately from cancellations, to not getting as much done as I anticipated. When I am tired, the little disappointments seem bigger than they are.
(Below is the sketch of the view at our campground on the Athabasca River. Beautiful place to camp!!)
We did it! The walls and floor were finished in time and some of the things moved back into place, enough so that we had the rooms and space for our son and granddaughter and my sister to come for a visit. Yeah!
We enjoyed a lovely visit and the weather was beautiful so we could be out in it everyday. It was a joy to spend the time relaxing and watching a 14-month-old explore her world. Family is important to me – and spending the time with them was precious.
Continuing the theme of abiding in Jesus and living in this moment, it was good to just take each day as it came while they were here. We could enjoy our time better and relax more, not worrying about the things that were coming up after the visit.
Babies live in the moment. We could re-learn how to live in the moment from them. Babies can trust their parents. Jade, my granddaughter, fearlessly jumps off high places into her daddy’s arms. When she needs comfort, she knows where to turn. She confidently explores her world.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m]righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt 6: 25-34)
What will this day bring? Good and bad and ups and downs. If I remain “in the moment,” the crisis can be dealt with more calmly without panicking. It has helped to have my family tell me when I let the “panicky” actions or voice start taking over. I take a deep breath and get back to this moment. (This did happen a few times as we were finishing up our project.)
I have thought about other Bible stories that illustrate people walking and abiding in God. In the next few newsletters I will take a different one and we will walk through their story and see how they “abide in God.”
What is your favorite Bible story, or Bible character?