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

Advent day 8: Preparing our heart

“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” Luke 3:4-5

Perhaps the paths that need to be made straight in order to prepare for Jesus’ coming are those that entangle our hearts and minds. I know there are lots of things in my life that get in the way of allowing Jesus to work in me and through me.

In order to make way for Jesus to refresh and renew my heart, there are some things I need to confess and to let go of, in order that the valleys and mountains and rough ways can be smoothed out.

In waiting for the imminent arrival of Emmanuel, God with us, what might you need to do to prepare the way and make the path straight?…

20141208-223919-81559390.jpgPause, Ponder, Prepare

Advent day 4: The King comes

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of The Lord.” Luke 19:38

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This is what the crowd chanted as they greeted Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem – the day we call Palm Sunday. They referred to Jesus in terms only used for Caesar. They hailed him as the Messiah sent by God. Yet how soon that changed and in no time at all Jesus was relegated to a position lower than a common criminal.

My picture today reflects the way in which Jesus coming is a subversive act. The Kingly crown is surrounded by the crown of thorns; one does not exist without the other. He overturns all our human structures and assumptions about who is first and who is last. He came so that those who are last shall be first. His birth in a lowly stable and his death on a lonely hill are the polar opposite of what we expect of a King. And yet in lowering himself to the level of the least of this world, he identifies with those who society would reject.

For those of us who claim to be Jesus followers, we need to emulate his example. We need to be prepared to be least; to set aside our own desires for status and recognition and to raise up those who we would normally reject.

It is in this subversion that the true Kingship of Jesus shines through.

As we await his arrival, what can we do to align ourselves with Jesus in his acts of subversion?

Pause, Ponder, Prepare

Advent day 1: Pause, Ponder, Prepare

I am following an online advent series this year which is led by a group of artists.
I will post the link each day to their blog which they put together in November in preparation.

I don’t have time to do a big piece of art for each one so I am using the verses to stimulate my own reflection and then doing a Paper 53 picture on my iPad.
Not sure if I’ll manage one every day but if I don’t I’m not going to worry, I’ll just pick up again on the appropriate day.

Here is the post for day 1 – Pause, Ponder, Prepare

And here is my artwork …

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Jesus comes with power; power to transform; power to overturn injustice; power to bring peace and hope and reconciliation, and order out of chaos.

Hurry Up and Wait!

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Advent is about waiting. It literally means the coming arrival of something important. And in Advent we are anticipating the birth of Jesus Christ.

But part of looking forward to something must mean that we have to wait for it.

As I was driving through my town yesterday, I was reflecting on the fact that we don’t really do much waiting during our modern day Advent. Christmas lights get switched on at the end of November, shops sell Christmas branded food stuffs even from October (often with use by dates that are before Christmas), and the office Christmas parties and the Christmas concerts begin at the start of December so as to fit everything in before Christmas.

So by the time we reach Christmas Day we can be tired of hearing Carols and we’ve already eaten numerous mince pies. Instead of anticipating and waiting for Christmas, we have brought Christmas forward so we can experience it here, right now and we don’t have to wait.

But there’s something important about waiting and anticipating that we can miss out on.

When we wait, we focus on the thing we are waiting for. When we look forward to something our excitement builds and the arrival is both joyful and enjoyable.

And the waiting time of advent also allows us to be aware of our weariness, our poverty and our desolation – the very aspects of our lives that Jesus came to deal with. When we don’t take time to wait, to reflect and to recognise our own state, then we don’t allow Jesus to touch and to heal where we so need it. We bumble along with that ‘I’m fine!’ response to the ‘how are you?’ question, when actually underneath, we’re anything but. The verse on my art journal page captures this perfectly. In advent, we wait for heaven’s mystic gate to open, to allow Jesus to touch us and renew us again.

So, in all the busy-ness of our preparations for Christmas, I invite you to join me in Waiting. Waiting, anticipating, reflecting, and being real. Being real about the human state for which God provided the solution in Jesus. And looking forward to the deep joy that a relationship with Him can bring.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Luke 2:25-26

The Arty Stuff

This page is from a new art journal I’ve recently started which is an altered book (more about that in the new year).
You can see below how this page started out. It’s a book of fairy tales.

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After an application of white gesso, I printed with acrylics. I used the veins of some sycamore leaves and some bubble wrap to provide texture. While it was still wet I sprinkled some pearlescent fine glitter.

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The main picture was painted with acrylics and details picked out with black and gold sharpies. I love the way the text and leaf prints show through in some places.

The words were written on watercolour paper with fine liner and edged with a gold sharpie before being glued on.

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I’m joining in with Paint Party Friday on this one so go and take a look at what lots of other fab artists have been up to this week.