Sunday, October 20, 2013

Teaching Dignity

Many of my friends and blogging buddies pitched a word of the year back in January. Now I have finally come to the place where I think I have a word I need to focus on. Instead of a word for the year I think a word for the school year.... 

Dignity. It is defined in my old red Merriam Webster dictionary as:

the Quality or State of Being WORTHY, HONORED, or ESTEEMED.

As I get to know my students there is one thing I want most of all for them to know and learn this year, to treat others with dignity. I tell them to show each other kindness and respect because they are made in the image of God, this is a big deal I say, as I look back to blank faces, before leading them in a folk dance. The reason for treating others with dignity comes from their Creator.

As I take a step back I wonder how much I have to learn this before it can impact my students. Do I let this knowledge affect how I view the people around me? Do I let it affect how I see myself? Does it influence my speech, actions, thoughts, teaching, listening, and art? Does it influence those around me?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Getting lost in Busy

It seems like so long sense I last wrote. Life has become a blurr with my first year as a K-8 general music teaching career has begun. As a result so much has been put on the side, with the long list of school to do's piling down on me. 

My paintings lay scattered about untouched since I started the school year. Calling out asking just to be finished and sent out to their new homes. Others lay with all of the plans neatly organized ready to put paint to canvas. I tell myself each week I will come back I will paint I will listen, I will create, I will just be. I want to do so much but then I do what I don't want to do.

I tell myself I'm too busy, too tired, too....

I loose myself in some lesser thing. My mind craves creating. It craves playing my saxophone,sitting and journaling, just writing, painting, quieting. The change surrounds me, I love teaching, I live kids. But when I breath it I eat it, I dream it, talk about it there seems sometimes no escaping it sometimes. So I numb and tune into the Tv. What's going on in the world? Hmm... I forget the things I mean to do, to be.

How do I stop and find them again? Now as I have taken so much time away I must admit I am afraid to come back. What if it won't happen the way I thought. What will happen if I let the painting be what it wants to. Will they like it! Will it have any meaning. I'm afraid to know what I sound like on the saxophone now that I have been away so long... My tone will be awful... What if I have nothing to say...

But then I sit in my car and listen to Tango's by Astor Piazzolla, or now to iTunes contemporary classical radio, and I find joy, I find me in the middle, it seems to unravel a bit. 

So here I am saying that I am committing to facing the fears from the time away in busy. I am going to commit to making a healthy choice for me, not to allow myself to take an easy out of nothingness. That I will choose to do what is best even if it may be scary, and try again. Finish what I have left undone, to find the next new path. 

I would love to know if you have any suggestions of how you get back into the habit.

Your Friend,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Some Bible Bling

I like to make thing beautiful, as I'm sure many of you do, and my Bible goes without exception. I want to make it a home for me to go to, to learn, be challenged, seek comfort, and find grace. I originally got my little pocket black NLT Bible because I liked the simplicity of it. There aren't any commentaries, except the small foot notes for alternate translations, or any other frills.

I soon made a small band, that all my Bibles have, to go around the outside to hold in all my bookmarks, or flyaway notes. My original band has sense been replaced from over use and much stuffing, but the original message remain the same, "Start Fresh," my reminder that I can always start anew with Jesus, no shame needed when I come before Him.

After awhile I got tired of just stuffing things in the back empty pages and decided to create a pocket in the back out of some velum, magazine paper, and a photo I had taken of our spring yard, and ta-da a nice neat place to keep my notes and things!

I also keep a page of notebook paper with a Brene Brown quote that I love and record scripture behind it that matches up with it. I attached it to some of the blank white pages in the back.

I also find the presented too portion in the front to be somewhat awkward when I bought it for my self so I redid the page with a photograph I took of my favorite flower.

Lastly I like to decorate with my bookmarks. I can never have enough book marks, in my Bible the one ribbon that is provided never seems to be enough. Each bookmark carries a little reminder of what I have learned and carries me forward. The dove is the model I used in my Freedom painting, for example.

I just wanted to sharewith you a little look into my world. Do you decorate your Bible or journal space? I would love to hear how you do.


Adventures with Graphing Paper

This summer I have been a little addicted to trying out new fonts and looking up typography on pintrest. I like the slow process of training my hand to try something new, or flying my pen across the page for a flowy free look. I think what I like most about it though is making the ordinary beautiful and bring about more visual meaning to my words.

Generation Word Bible Study ~ notes 7/23/13
I noticed as I searched many images on pintrest that many people practice on graphing paper. Before I always thought of graphing paper was for math classes, like finding the length of a side in geometry, or finding the slope in trig. So I tried it out by printing off an online template... and loved it! There are so many less restrictions than that of college-ruled notebook paper that I was using. I found it so much easier to experiment.

Ever sense trying it I have been eyeing a graphing paper notebook, and trying to deside if it would be a frivolous expense. Would I really use it enough to make it worth it? I often have the problem of I start a notebook and am excited about it, and then only fill half the pages. Well I finally caved, when I was out school supply shopping at OfficeMax, (office supply stores can be a dangerous place for me, all the beautiful new school supplies...), and I just couldn't resist.

I have enjoyed the notebook so far and have found it helpful to keep notes from church and Bible study in. Thinking about the font choices and meandering my pen over the letters many times seems to keep my mind focused and free of clutter. I also find I go back and read my notes now as well (which I never have before) because I think they are beautiful. Though in the moment of note taking there are many mispelled words and my dyslexia comes out of hiding. I try to just accept spelling mistakes and enjoy what I have.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Who's That Tapping at the Window.."

Yesterday and today we have had a little friend tapping at our windows and doors. A very small female goldfinch. She seems determined to get our attention to let her in the house. This morning she sat in our lilac bushes up against the living room windows, looking in at us and gently flying toward the window every few minutes for about twenty minutes. Then yesterday she was busy tapping on our front door, windows along the the front, and then at the basement windows. I will try and snap a little photo of her soon for you to see.

My first thought was the little song and game I played at my Kodaly level 1 training this week, Who's that Tapping at the Window, Who's that tapping at the Door.  for the game two children go and hind and sing a response back while two others try and guess who is hiding without looking around the room. A fun game I have played in college before as well, sometimes having had almost every class together for three years still had trouble guessing as we marveled at masking our voices.

But now as the day closes I am starting to wonder what the tapping call may mean besides the cute little tune that automatically plays in my head. What is knocking at my door and my window, who is calling my name. Change is blowing my way. As I am writing the old familiar verses pop in my mind.

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wedding Gifts

8x10" © 2013
I just wanted to share a project I am working on right now. Here are the pair of whooping cranes for one of the three weddings I have this summer. I thought the whopping cranes would be great gifts as they mate for life. This painting is just in its beginning stages... much more to come. The colors are a close match to the couples' chosen wedding colors for the most part and I will include a bible verse from each couples wedding on the front as well.

I have also included pictures of the cards I have made for their weddings and wedding showers. I have been having fun recently making these fun little flower cards for several occasions. They are low stress but do take quite a while to color in. I have been reading Henry David Thoreau quotes and wanted to include one as I have been thinking about them a lot, with so many ringing true in my ears and heart.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A little Chickadee

8x10" ©2013
This piece has been a new challenge for me. I have been starting to feel a little bogged down with my common settings of bird in flight or resting on a bare branch, and I have felt like I needed something new to keep me moving forward to grow and trust God to lead the way. I fell in love with this little photo on Pinterest of a chickadee clinging upside down to these flowers and thought it might just be the new model God has intended to teach me through.

I often feel as though each bird I paint and each painting have something new to teach me, and so far this last month as I have been working on these intricate flower pedals, the learning curve has been up!  It has taken longer as perfectionist tendencies are up trying to make each detail exact, and needing time to tell myself to breath it will get there, you haven't done this before, it is okay! 

I also liked the idea of the bird hanging upside down as it relates to the upside-down world we live in. As I have shown this work to others and found that they feel uncomfortable with the positioning of the bird and are often tempted to turn it. Making another great connection of how uncomfortable growth can be to us and those around us as it happens. But mostly bringing out the longing our world to be set straight again. 

I am still learning and working...

"And now, just as. You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots go down into him, and let your lives be built on him."
Colossians 2:6-7

Friday, June 21, 2013

Galatians 5:1-9

Growth Drawing ©2013
I wanted to share a little drawing I did that was inspired by the Sermon this week at church by Galyn Wiemers on Galations 5:1-9. I thought it was a wonderful description of freedom and growth in Christ. This sermon really spoke to the core of what I believe.

Here is the link if you want to check it out. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Shame Project

I was recently asked to do a small project on how I viewed shame in my life. I thought I might share it here. The first has the shaming statements that often run through my head inside the profile. Outside of the profile are the positive aspects of who I am, the words of truths of who I am. The other image should lay to the right of the first, with the crowd of profiles labeled in cursive speaking their thoughts of who, what and how we should be, intentionally and unintentionally into us, often feeding into the unattainable standards that fan the flames of shame.
0utter Truth, Inner Shame 11x8.5" ©2013
Voices of Shame 11x8.5" ©2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pretending Mask

In the last two weeks I have had more time than I have had in months! A shocking sign of summer. I miss the hustle-bustel of school and events, moving and whirling through life. It seems easier to know my purpose and direction when there is always something to do.Then summer comes and all the exterior doing comes to a halt, this summer more than others it seems.

I have time to rest and think, to reflect more deeply, and it seems that I resist the blessing. God always has something to show me, but I am stubborn. I have been making an effort to enjoy and know I am not a human doing but a human being, that this Summer season often reminds me.

As I have reflected I have noticed the pretending mask has found its way out of the closet and onto my face in weaponry station. I've brought it up to guard myself from the shame of the past, and to help me to hide from the truth that there is still work to be done here.

My mask shows the brilliant colors of healing, works, and wonderful chameleon techniques. It boasts in rebellion, and laughs at lies. It pleases and proves itself to onlookers. Protecting the owner from seeing the shame, hurt, lies, and defeat of the present and past.

Now that I see the mask I can take it down and look around a bit. I am letting God in to help sift through the lies that have caused my eyes to be blinded from the difference between legalism and natural fuits of the Spirit, and reading the Bible on a regualr basis because of my love for Him and a genuine heart to grow, not because it is what a "good Christian" does. The lines are still blurry for me but I am beginning to see.

I want to be honest about where I am in my walk of Faith, and not feel ashamed of who I am. I want to know acceptance and patientce from the Church. I want to be secure in not having it all together.

One more step into living a life of courage.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bird sitings!

I have been going on a lot of walks this spring on the wooded paths by my home. I will say that this year I have seen more birds than ever on my walks and have enjoyed the blessing of the presence ever so much!

I am starting to older if they are my "whale" or "starfish" like in the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge. When I accepted my first teaching position just a few weeks ago, the minute I got off the phone with the principal I saw a hummingbird and a Baltimore oriole in our backyard at the same time! Previously I had not seen a hummingbird yet this season, and I have only once seen a Baltimore oriole at Grey's Lake in downtown Des Moines. 

Yesterday as I was working on a new painting I was thinking about how many birds I have seen this year and what a blessing it has been. Jesus letting me know He loves and cares for me. I was thinking how now I have seen all of the birds I have painted in several times except for an Indigo Bunting, and was wondering if I would ever see one, as they are not common I my area. 

I just couldn't help but sharing that this morning I saw my first Indigo Bunting as my mom and I were walking! I am so excited! She pointed out the little bluebird thinking maybe it was another Eastern bluebird that we had seen earlier in the month, but no there was the little deep bluebird, changing color as the sun hit his feathers from blue to black and back to brilliant blue! What a beautiful sight!

The morning for me was quite perfect sharing a long talk with my best friend to wake me up. Sharing our hearts, what Jesus is teaching us, and lifting each other up in prayer, couldn't be more refreshing and encouraging! The a nice shower and a beautiful walk with my mother sharing in fellowship, and a little gift of the Indigo Bunting siting!

I would love to hear about your "whales", "starfish", and Indigo Buntings God places in your life to remind you he loves you!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Violet-Backed Starling

Fierce Violet-Backed Starling © 2013
A friend and I are doing a painting swap. She wanted me to paint her this bird, while she does a quote painting for me that I chose. I titled it Fierce with the subtitle as the type of bird. My friend is drawn to fierce and bold things and I think she tries to live her life in a similar way, not always going with the norm but blazing her own path in life. I will share hers here once we swap!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A prayer on fear

Untitled © 2010

God you know my longing heart.
You hear my fear.
The numbing racing rumbling fear.
It takes my joy, it steals my peace.
It beckons unpleasant things.
It calls out to me with incessant desperation.
It starts with a whisper and ends with a scream.
That familiar scream, who's answer is an ending.
It questions every thought,
every move,
every choice,
with a painful critique.
But the irrational answer to its call.
In my silence I listen.
In my silence a no.
When in battle my Creator made me quiet.
In my silence my Creator has the power.
The storm,
the wind are His.
I am called to walk.
My hatred and pride I am told to drop.
Love and courage I am asked to take.
Here you are loved.
Here you are worthy.
Here you may be.
Remember the lessons of shame.
Remember the season's change won't damage.
the pain of a muscle growing.
The strength of your soul.
Hope to hold onto.
Here is My Spirit.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Courage Requires...

One of my absolute favorite quotes right now that I heard my first mentor teacher say to her students all of the time is;

"Who cares if we make mistakes, as long as we have courage."

I just think it is brilliant! What a wonderful ideology to instill into young minds! As this thought has percolated in me for the last 3 months, I come to more and more reasons that support the truth of it that resonates in my heart.

How have I learned the big lessons of life... by trying and making mistakes.
In music when I have I learned and created the most... by making big and confident choices.
How have I come to painting... by grabbing supplies and seeing where they lead me.
How have I made my closest friends... by not fearing taking a chance at sharing my heart.
How have I come to have faith... by admitting my humanity and having the courage to say I can't do it alone.

These are defining moments of who I am. This is where I have been me to the core of who I was created to be.

Often though the cloud of anxiety or fear speaks louder. It wins the call of my heart, it keeps me from learning, from joy, from love, from living. It will call the dark parts of my heart. It pulls up the walls. I am human, I am sinful, I do have faults.

So how do I choose courage? How do I choose to tell that voice the truth? In my search for the answer to these questions I made a list that you see in the photo, of what I believe courage requires. When there is a word that challenges me that I feel God calling me to, I often brainstorm a list of words that brings about a clear meaning of how I have seen this played out in my life or in the ordinary people in my life that inspire me. It helps me reach out to the tools to make the change in my heart, then my mind, then my actions.

I wanted to share this in hopes of inviting you to join me in choosing courage. I would love to hear your thoughts, words, or images of what courage is to you. What do you think courage requires?

To come a painting...

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Breath © 2013 2.5x3.5"
I know this isn't like most of the stuff I do. I needed to just breath though. I needed to just create without the planing without all of the fine details. I needed to get out of my head, and release all of the creatures that were swimming in my mind.

Sometimes it is so easy to for me to get caught up in self-doubt an critisism. So I knew I had a to make an ATC for the monthly swap. (Thank goodness for these swaps they keep me painting even when life is sooo crazy! They have really been a blessing in disguise for me. J)

So I just went for it and grabbed the things that were closest to me, and just started to create. Releasing the scrambled thoughts of what is to come, job applications, test scores, insecurities, and faith struggles, to just be in the moment. Breathing and moving, creating. This was the end result.

Spreading Joy

Spreading Joy © 2013 8"x8"
This is a painting I created during student teaching at my elementary placement.

I created this piece as a thank you gift for my wonderful mentor teacher. I am so blessed to have been placed with her and in that school! I will feel forever indebted to her and my time there!

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Forward into Community

Here is the finished painting I started during finals week, before Christmas. As I said in the previous post about this painting my original intent was to portray the promise that we are never alone throughout any stage in our lives. That God places people in our lives to walk alongside us through every season whether we see them or not at the time. Placing my trust in Him rather than the fears I have about what is to come.

"For I hold you by your right hand - I, the LORD your God. And I say to you,'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you."
Isaiah 41:13

 Though as the last few months have gone by I think God had other plans for what He wanted me to understand about this work which center around.... community. The last few years have been a struggle for me to understand the importance of community and fellowship with other believers. It has been hard for me to trust that other believers will help me to better understand the character of God, and provide support and love that bring about encouragement in faith. But Christ has just begun to chissel away at my fear and hurt in this area, slowly pulling away the barriers around my heart, and providing me with His protection.

"The heartfelt counsil of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."
Proverbs 27:9 NLT

"As iorn sharpens iorn, so a friend sharpens a friend."
Proverbs 27:17 NLT

"People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will recieve mercy."
Proverbs 28:13 NLT

So I want to take a minute and thank freinds and family for their grace, patience, and support.Without you there is so much I would never have learned about myself and about Jesus. I am unbelievably thankful for your prayers and the battle we have done together. This one goes out to you, the greatest of blessings!

All my love,

Flying Forward 12x12" © 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"His Eye is on the Sparrow"

"His Eye is on the Sparrow" 2.5x3.5" © 2013

This small ATC is a test run for a larger painting that a friend is asking me to paint for a prayer room in her house of eight college girls. As I was thought about my friend’s request I was thinking about what I wanted them to know and see as they go to pray in this room. All I could think of is that Jesus loves, cares, and wants to speak freedom into their lives. Understanding these women I knew that the piece also needed scriptural backing. The first thing that popped in my head was the hymn His Eye is on the Sparrow, and the New Testament verses about the God watching over sparrows. 

I also decided I wanted to have the bird flying as an expression of god wanting them to live to their potential and take risks for Him. Knowing that He will ultimately pick them up and be there for them no matter what happens. 

For the larger painting I think I will do several sparrows in many different positions, to show the different places in our walk with Christ. I have really enjoyed this little painting and have had quiet an ordeal with him. I almost threw out the whole thing and started over many times. I made mistake after mistake on this tiny portrait, which i think brings out the meaning even more. Each time I wanted to give up God gave me another chance to make him more beautiful, and with greater depth than I had planned. I want to leave you with the lyrics to the hymn and the verses that fuel the meaning and inspiration of this piece.

"I long yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your alter, O LORD of Heaven's Armies, my King and my God!"
Psalm 84: 3-4 NLT

"What is the price of two sparrows- one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are much more valuable to God that a whole flock of sparrows."
Matthew 10:29-31 NLT

 His Eye is on the Sparrow - Hymn

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.