Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Word Art Wednesday - January 25, 2011

Ahhh, I don't choose the verses for the Word Art Wednesday Challenge, but every one is so applicable to my life! Many of you know that I am in the process of ousting cancer from my body. (You can read more about that journey of blessing at CaringBridge, if you wish.) What you may not know is that my body has failed me in other ways, too.  I have been barren; no child has grown in my womb.

Like Sarah, like Hannah -- I have prayed -- poured out my heart before God -- for children. 

And those prayers have been answered!

By the miracle of open adoption, "the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him" -- FOUR times! 

Here are my four precious answers to prayer:

Of course, I couldn't choose ONE to represent on my piece of art, so I opted for a simple drawing (I'm trying! ) of a mother and child to represent me and each of them. I did, however, use paint that DD9 had mixed for one of her own creations as my background colour. It shimmers a bit because she's all about the glitter -- but I'm afraid I couldn't capture that in the photo. The four gems represent the children that are precious jewels to me. 

Is there a verse that resonates with you today?

Word Art Wednesday

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Word Art Wednesday - January 18, 2012

This week's Word Art Wednesday verse, Joshua 1:9, was particularly relevant for me. At the end of last week, I learned that while my chemo treatments are working, they have not accomplished as much as they needed to to eradicate my lymphoma, so I will need some additional treatments. That's discouraging to me. But read the verse . . .

There are some pretty significant commands in there! Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Why? Because the Lord will be with you! And indeed He is! So we will press on in faith.

While it might look a little random, there is some significance to the elements of this little WAW piece. I thought the story of Samson was a good text to start with as the background paper, since he was known for his strength and courage.  The woman (drawn with Sharpies on the back of a domino) -- with her funky hair -- kinda makes me think of me. Not that I have hair -- but I am getting pretty funky with my head coverings:

It takes a bit of courage to go out in public like this, and I do see a strength of "style" emerging in me -- though sometimes I wonder if it's the style of an aged, wacky "Walue Willage" (what we call the Value Village thrift store) shopper ;) 

And finally, the egg shells -- a splash of colour -- but they also represent strength.  Squeezed end to end, it is surprisingly difficult to break the shell of an egg. So I thought egg shells were a good symbol to incorporate into a piece of art about strength and courage. 

What symbols would you use to represent strength and courage, or to represent the commands in this verse? 

If you'd like to participate in this weeks Word Art Challenge, you could win something from Crop Stop!  Why not give it a go?

Word Art Wednesday

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Word Art Wednesday

The verse for this week's Word Art Wednesday is Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall  be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Of course, my mind immediately went to wedding imagery -- but I'd used a wedding photo for last week's WAW. I love marriage and trees, and I saw an image similar to this somewhere on the web, and it all came together for me -- the whole idea of two people having roots of their own but becoming one and creating a family tree . . . 

I decided to use the word art in strips because I liked the idea of creating breaks throughout the verse -- but I didn't mean for the strips to be lifting as they are in the photo. {sigh. Where's my glue stick now?!?!?} The photo is also a bit shadowy (there are no big black blobs under the leaves) -- but this was the best of the bajillion that I took. I've been trying to take pictures without the flash since I've read numerous places that's the best thing to do for blog pictures -- but I'm not having much success. Alas, I gave up trying to get a better shot than this. (Bad blogger!)

I have been debating whether to continue using the library catalogue cards as my base for the word art challenges because they are a tad small. But I decided to keep using them because they are making a neat little collection of word art without taking up a lot of space. (I also like those little tabs for titles!)  I was thinking of using a binder ring to join them together like a mini book (since they already have holes in them), but my husband suggested framing them in groups in shadow boxes once I have a good collection. So for now, I'll just keep them stacked neatly until we figure out how to display them, if at all. 

This week's challenge is sponsored by Eclectic Anthology -- so if you participate, you might just win some pretties from them! Why don't you give it a try?!?!? 

Word Art Wednesday

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me -- on Thursday!

Building Spiritual Immunity

Yes, it's only Thursday, but I've been inspired by my husband's recent post on our CaringBridge journal, and since I haven't posted a Monday Musings in forever, I thought I would spend some time reflecting today while I'm lying low. 

You see, I have a cold. Not a big deal -- except that because of my chemo treatments, I have virtually no immune system with which to fight the bug. My husband has the same cold, but it is barely affecting him; he is buzzing around here like a wonderful worker bee getting lots accomplished. I, on the other hand, am knocked off my feet -- quite literally. I spent the day yesterday on the couch or my bed, unable to do much of anything. This morning, after a good night's rest, I felt considerably better, so I tried doing a bit of my exercise routine in an effort to get my lymph flowing and the toxins moving out of my body. However, within the first five minutes of this simple stretching routine, I felt like I was going to pass out; I had to lie down. I got dressed for the day -- and had to lie down again. I'm writing to you from my blessed bed -- for which I give thanks daily, BTW!

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I favour natural remedies and work hard to boost my body's immune system with all manner of things God has given us in nature, including oil of oregano, vitamin C, aronia juice, fresh fruits and vegetables -- just to name a few. We can boost our immune systems with thoughtful effort, and it does help us to ward off germs. 

As my husband reflected on this fact, he made a parallel to our spiritual immune systems. He pointed out, "When we do not care for our spiritual immune system, we leave ourselves open to the "germs" that rob us of our spiritual well-being." 

These last few weeks, I confess that I have felt susceptible to "spiritual germs" -- to the forces of the spiritual realm that would have me worry, feel sorry for myself, and fear for the future. Those beastly bugs that would infest my brain and steal my joy have been gaining ground, AND I KNOW WHY! 

It's because I haven't been boosting my spiritual immune system the way I was earlier along this cancer journey, and for the better part of last year! 

So how do we boost our spiritual immune systems? After all, Jesus is all we need, right? We don't need Jesus and oil of oregano for the soul. We don't need Jesus and vitamin victory, or Jesus and joy juice.  (C'mon -- have some fun coming up with your own spiritual vitamin names;)

Jesus is all we need. And yet (not "but" -- because this is not a contrasting thought!), by His Grace, He is not all we have

So, what do we have to boost or spiritual immune systems -- to spray the proverbial Raid in the faces of those demons that would drag us down? 

Here are three . . .

We have His Word.

For the better part of last year and certainly all the time I spent in the hospital last fall, I was reading my bible daily and journaling my prayers. For the first time in my life, it was a delight to make time to read His Word and marvel at all the things recorded in it. And that made a huge difference in what I thought about throughout the day, and how I felt!  It made a huge difference in my spiritual life! He uses His word to speak directly to us. Take today for example. After thinking about this topic, I turned to the book of James where I had been reading most recently, and read this:  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8). Is that not so relevant to what we're talking about?!?!?

 Is reading the bible a necessary component of living an abiding life in Christ? No -- because He is the Word, and He is in us. (And let's not forget all the believers in the world who have no access to a bible. They still live abundant Christian lives -- often more so than those of us who have so many spiritual tools available.) But it is a God-Gift of Grace to have the scripture to read -- and we are wise to cherish it by taking time to read it. 

We have books, CDs, DVDs -- all manner of Christian resources that are meant to turn our eyes to Jesus. 

While one always needs to be selective in reading choices, I think it is safe to say that we have all read a book that has influenced our way of thinking. Certainly my reading of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts has affected the way I view life. It has shed light on the fact that all is Grace -- and that even cancer is a Grace Gift. Such a way of viewing the world makes a huge difference in the enemy's ability to stake claim to my brain! If I am thankful, I cannot be miserable, or self-centred, or even fearful. My gratitude enables me to see Grace. And it is a book written by a humble farmer's wife that showed me that -- a book that has boosted my immunity to those voices in my head that would have me rant at God for the seeming inequities of my life. 

Should Christian resources replace our study of God's word? Of course not. But He has allowed their existence for our edification. Just as He provides nourishment for our bodies, He provides nourishment for our souls. 


In a recent post, Ann Voskamp stated, "I need community with the Body to stay attached to the head, Christ. [ I] need to to dig deep channels of communication between my God, my children, my husband. A three-fold cord — communion, community, communication — ‘koinonia’ may be this lifeline that careening days can hold on to."  

While again we maintain that Jesus is all we need, He has designed us for fellowship -- He has designed us to crave community. (The importance of fellowship and community is clearly conveyed throughout the new testament.) And in North America, we are blessed to be able to freely gather in His name. We are free to live life together, gently tilting each others' faces to the Son. 

I can't describe how important community has been to us in our cancer journey alone. There are no words. Over and over again, people have shown us God's Grace -- have been His hands and feet -- have loved us with His Love. And there is nothing like the power of people's prayers to boost one's spiritual immunity! I can feel when people are lifting me up before the Throne of Grace. And it is such an honour and a privilege to both be the recipient of prayers, as well as the petitioner. 

So, it has taken me ever so long to put together this little post about building our spiritual immunity, but I hope it has inspired you to put some thought into how you will guard your spiritual health this year. 

Do you have other ideas about how we can build spiritual immunity against the enemy's minions? Please share them in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Word Art Wednesday - January 4, 2012

I mentioned recently that I am a delighted design team member of Word Art Wednesday. Well, here is the product of my creativity working with Cassandra's text art from Ruth 1:16:

It was New Year's Eve when I worked on this, and I'll confess that I was feeling quite ill, likely from the effects of chemo. I spent a lot of time staring at my bits and pieces of collage material, not knowing what I wanted to use or do. I felt so un-engaged that I kept asking my DD9 for input -- and she was such a blessed encourager as I worked using her ideas, and her paints that she'd poured for her own work. 

I wanted it to be a special piece because my DH and I used this verse as part of our marriage vows. (Hence my choice of using our wedding photo.) "Bliss" truly is an apt title because I love my married life and maintain my vow to follow where he leads. And yet I found myself looking at the picture and thinking, "Who would have thought we'd be in this place 20 years later?" It has been a hard road, and because I was feeling physically unwell, my mood got a bit gloomy.  Thankfully, DD9 was there to keep drawing me into the delight of the moments we were sharing together. 

So, while it may never be my favourite creation, this piece holds a lot of significance for me -- wandering ideas, roller-coaster emotions, dreams failed and fulfilled, and lots and lots of love.

Have you created anything lately that holds personal significance for you?

Would you like to join us at the Word Art Wednesday Linky Party? You could win a gift from Whimsy Stamps, the sponsor for this week's challenge! Click the image below to find out more!

Word Art Wednesday

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Creativity

Well, I'm a little slow in the game -- but Happy New Year to you all! 

Our family rang in the new year a little differently this year. DH took DD14 and two of her friends downtown for some exploring of the "big city" before gathering for the official city celebration while I stayed home with the other three. We played some games and ate left overs with special drinks and desserts, then DS5 went to bed at the usual time. DD9 really wanted to do some art with me, so DS13 (who wasn't feeling creative) read by the fire while we worked down in the art studio. I created my Word Art Wednesday piece (which I will save for tomorrow), and DD9 worked incredibly diligently on this painting:

She was very proud of her work. She had a vision -- and she went about putting it on the canvas with patience and perseverance. When she asked for advice, I tried to encourage her to make her own choices instead of advising her because I have far too great a tendency to -- well -- take control and somehow make my children feel that their way is somehow "wrong". At the same time, to build her confidence in art, I kept asking her opinions about my work. She was a great encourager. It was a delightful time as we worked side-by-side, and she kept coming in for cuddles, saying, "I just need to be near you, Mommy! I just love working here with you making art together by ourselves!" It's definitely something we need to do more often. It seems to me that she is wrestling with things in her heart and mind, and our time in the art room always seems to bring things a little closer to the surface so they can be talked about. 

She actually spent much more time deliberating and working on her painting than I did (it's usually the other way around!), so when she finally decided her work was done, we went back upstairs and watched a movie with DS13, then tuned in to the last 45 minutes of the city's tv coverage to see if we could find our gang. (Of course, we couldn't.) We were very grateful to be snug at home and not downtown with the throngs of noisy people. It was hard to stay awake -- but we all made it to midnight when DH and the others called to ring in the new year with us over the phone!

Today, my home care nurse came to look after my PICC line, and she was telling me about a quinoa salad she makes. I decided to get a little creative for lunch with her inspiration, and here is the result:

I did no measuring, but I can tell you the ingredients, which were pretty much whatever I could find in the fridge: cooked quinoa, diced purple onion, fresh-pressed garlic, green onions, sesame seeds, rinsed (to get most of the sugar off) dried cranberries, fresh parsley, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. I had a couple of helpings and DH had three, so it was pretty tasty :) His only suggestion was to use less lemon as his salivary glands felt a little over stimulated ;) 

Have you started the new year with any creative endeavours? 

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