Sow 2016

Happy New Year everyone.  Welcome to 2016 and to a more concerted effort on my part to blog, since last year I pretty much abandoned blogging.

The new year is often a time for setting new goals or resolutions, a good time to refocus our lives on what’s really important, though I tend to do this throughout the year as and when my context changes.  Being in education means we have a refocus in September as well.

But this year I’ve decided to have a focus word for the year.  You can find lots of info on the web about this from both a faith and secular perspective.  I did it a couple of years ago when I chose the word ‘being’ – I used it to help me to focus on the importance of just being rather than doing.  Being with people and being with God, without the need to have a purpose to the being other than just a presence.  I believed it helped me develop tremendously.

This year’s focus word is ‘Sow’.  I am anticipating a change in my role this year which has caused me to reflect on what my calling is and who I am.  I believe I am a ‘Sower’; I think I’m called to help people develop new things or change things that aren’t working for them.  As I go through a process of discernment as to where to go next, my focus word will help me to know whether I’m heading in the right direction.

Here is my page at the beginning of my faith journal…

   
     

As you can see I have chosen a verse from Luke 8 which comes from a parable that Jesus shared.  The verse reminds me that when God is present in the place that I choose to sow, then the crop that flourishes there will be amazing.  It is a reminder to me to discover where God is already working in the world and to join in with the heavenly mission to bring healing and reconciliation, light into darkness and love in abundance.

The words on the left are from Galations 6 and are a reminder that whatever we sow we will reap.  So if we sow hate we are likely to reap hate.   When we sow fear and close our borders to those in need, we are likely to increase our fear of the stranger, which in turn has many other negative consequences.  When we decide to solve problems with violence we are likely to reap more violence.   We reap what we sow.

When we sow love, we are likely to see love flourishing.  

Our governments, as well as us all as individuals, would do well to heed these words of wisdom in Galations.

The words among the letters of the word SOW are the things I aspire to sow – faith, hope and community.  All things I believe God wants for the people of this world.

What would your word for 2016 be and what quote might support that word and inspire your focus for this year?
Share in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.

The Arty stuff:

My journal is a Moleskine notebook with printed grid pages.  The pages are quite thin so although I used Crayola twistables coloured pencils, when I outlined in a black fineliner, it showed through on the adjacent pages so I’ve glued them together.  It also makes the pages stronger.

This year I want too try to participate in some other online communities as we faith journal together.  Here are links to some that I’m joining in with.  Go ahead and join us … I look forward to seeing you there.

Documented Faith

Faith Art Friday

Logos365 with His Kingdom Come

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Advent day 9: A new kind of love

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

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Today I encountered a woman selling the Big Issue outside Waitrose in my village. She was standing in the cold in flimsy shoes and thin socks, yet she still had a smile for me because I stopped. I was embarrassed because I had no change and told her I’d get some from the car. She nodded and wished me a Merry Christmas, clearly thinking I was making my excuses and a quick get way. Her surprise when I returned was apparent and her gratitude disproportionate to the few pounds I gave her.

All day her frozen feet in their flimsy coverings have been on my mind. So imagine my surprise when I found an advent reflection in my inbox from Rethink church, challenging us to carry little ‘care’ packages of food around in our cars in case we see someone in need Rethink church .

And then I also reflected on today’s verses. This wonderful prayer that love would abound and that we would be filled with the fruit of righteousness. The fruits are shown on my picture (Galations 5:22-23). When we show these fruits which are the outcome of a true and deep relationship with Christ, we will find our hearts stirred to respond with loving kindness to all those in need; to do so in an intentional way, whether through carrying a ‘care’ package, or by speaking out against injustice and oppression even when it costs us to do so.

We must never forget that Jesus said …

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

And he also said …

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

As we wait for Jesus to come, where might we be missing seeing him now?

Pause, Ponder, Prepare

The heart of God

I’ve taken an extended break from blogging over the summer. Not for any reason other than I’ve been enjoying spending time with family and doing some personal reflection.

But I’m back again thanks to some encouragement from my friend Chris whose fabulous blog you can find here 7minutes.net. Each article takes only 7 minutes but of course you can lose yourself for hours as there’s loads of interesting stuff.

I have recently met and started to get to know some new people in my life. People who have struggled with some of the worst things imaginable and which continue to affect their lives long after the acts or situation have been left behind. People who themselves may have committed deeply disturbing acts on others. It’s a new experience for me to hear their stories, to listen to them, and to try to bring the love of Jesus without judgement or condemnation.

But I am compelled to do this, because I too have a past. I too have been hurt by others and have hurt others. And I, and they, carry the scars. We all have a past; we all hurt and have been hurt. It seems, for the moment, that it is part of the human condition.

But I found my redemption in Jesus.

These pages in my altered art journal illustrate the bible verses given to me on my baptism as a believer in 2001. They depict the person I was and the person I am, through Christ.

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This page is the former me; the me that carries the burden of the people I’ve hurt and those who have hurt me. But as the verse says, through my baptism, that person has died …

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… and now that Christ lives in me, I am a new person. Forgiven and redeemed by the amazing heart of God who loves us all unconditionally.

God’s unconditional love can be a difficult thing for many of us to accept. And the reality is that we don’t deserve this unconditional love, but it’s still available to us anyway. In my art book, the heart of God sits between my old self and my new self, covering both.

And it’s this conviction that gives me hope for my future and for the future of every single one of us so that though we have been scarred, those scars may no longer be what defines us, but may be the evidence that shows that no-one is beyond hope.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

The Artwork
This is a page from my altered book. You can see the pages peeking through the paint which I love as it gives it texture. After a layer of Gesso I used acrylics and a black sharpie outliner and I chose to write the words on white paper to make them stand out. I find it helps to colour the edges though, otherwise they don’t integrate very well with the painting. I also used a white marker to pick out highlights. I liked the idea of the middle page being cut into a heart shape to represent the heart of God sitting between my old self and the new.