Today’s reading in Deuteronomy had the word marryin it. It was in the context of what not to do in a list of regulations (7:3 for the curious), but it was there. Since it is wedding week, I find it kind to art journal marry.
The morning got off to a good start. Phone calls with two sisters, a birthday text and clothing text exchange with another, asking my daughter to take pictures of me in my wedding outfits to send to my fashion advisor. . .
A phonecall at 10:17 alerting me to the fact that I was missing a 10:00 appointment for my daughter. While asking her to snap pictures of me, time was ticking away past when I should have had her somewhere. Thankfully, we were able to redeem some of it as we rushed out the door.
That is what found me cutting and gluing in a waiting room.
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly, not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 1 Peter 5:2 NLT
Here is today’s word and page. The verse says it all. This is truly where I am right now in life. Posting this from my phone and signing off to spend the evening with my love, after I read to a child, of course.
The sun and moon stood still in the sky as your brilliant arrows flew and your glittering spear flashed. Habakkuk 3:11 (NLT)
With his own weapons, you destroyed the chief of those who rushed out like a whirlwind, thinking Israel would be easy prey. 3:14, (NLT)
Today was hard to choose. There were a lot of words in Habakkuk 3, but it came down to experiences and feelings that I had this week. Sun. Moon. Whirlwind.
On Thursday while driving my son to school we were caught between a stunning sunrise and peaceful full moonset. In that moment I remembered the same ride the year before. It was a moment that felt frozen in time, and I wanted to mark the feeling.
That is the divide on the paper. The in between.
But I was also so drawn to whirlwind. As I went back and forth, overthinking it, my youngest said, Why don’t you just do them all?
Not sure how I felt about that, I pondered it on the morning dog walk. The feeling of whirlwind was strong, and it was right in the midst of the peace I felt over the sunrise and moonset. That inspired its placement.
Here is the final page with added touches. My kids had a lot of imput like, Watch me suck the light and life right out of the room.
That statement was curious to me. I added the light at the tail, because as the whirlwind draws light in, it spreads it around on the other side.
And, yes, there were references to the digestive system, as well.
My husband looked at the page and asked if it is how I am feeling. Truthfully, yes, it is.
And I am so grateful for a place to create and process the feelings.
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap, The trap is broken, and we are free! Psalm 124:7
As excited as I was about yesterday’s page, I was equally frustrated by today’s. In fact, it was difficult to push through creating and even more difficult to want to write about it. At one point I said, I do not like this at all!
A voice from the other room said, Ohhh, I hate it.
I assured her that hate was a strong word which I wasn’t ready to use. A few minutes later I was ready.
I hate this page.
While reading in Psalms this morning, I was eager to choose a word. It was almost mercy from 123, but when I reached the end of 124, I knew it was bird.An image came to mind that I wanted to create, much like yesterday’s thistle.
I envisioned an open cage with a bird flying from it or maybe a trap or something that looked like a trap with a bird escaping. I wanted to portray being set free and freedom. I also wanted to use watercolors again, because I loved yesterday’s look so much.
It’s today, though. A new day. A different one. What worked yesterday was not going to work today. This became painfully obvious shortly after I painted the background. When I added colorful triangles around the border that I thought would look like a trap, they didn’t.
Glue stick would not work, so I used wet glue. Which smeared the watercolors.
I have lots of ready cut pictures of birds. All perching, not flying. I did not have time to search for a flying bird. I was hoping to get this page knocked out quickly. Instead it was knocking me out.
Looking through my cut pictures, I chose one of the perching birds. I was also drawn to a house shown from the side with manicured shrubs and rose bushes lining its brick walkway. I glued it on. It took up most of the page.
I decided to perch the bird in a tree, so I found some branches and glued them on the page. I cut random parts of other trees for the leaves and perched the bird. This is what my work space looked like all morning. I felt as if I were working upside-down and backwards as I tried to compose the page.
Here it is almost finished. There are a lot of layers.
This is the end result looking nothing like I imagined. I have gone from hating it to tolerating it to loving it. As I study what I was drawn to add to the picture and where I could or could not place things, I see how the bottom and left side are more structured, rigid, and formal. There is movement to the right and upwards where the bird is. This area is less structured, more playful, and free-flowing.
It depicts movement into freedom!
I find my words on the opposite page ironic. This is my style, my touch, the way I show up. And. It’s. Okay. I totally showed up in this space as myself today. I could not hold it back, no matter how hard I tried to do it the right way.
I share this as encouragement to continue to trust the process, wherever you are in it. Today looked nothing like what I planned time wise and picture wise. I battled perfectionism and self-doubt and fear. There was anxiety. Then I stepped away and looked back.
Out in the Lebanon mountains a thistle sent a message to a mighty cedar tree, “Give your daughter in marriage to my son.” But just then a wild animal of Lebanon came by and stepped on the thistle crushing it. 2 Chronicles 25:18 (NLT)
It is 2 Chronicles we are talking about here. I wanted to use the word thistle. That is the only meaning I am taking from this verse other than we are going to absolutely crush the wedding next week!
I also wanted to use the box of watercolors that has been sitting on my youngest child’s bedroom floor for quite some time. I asked her this morning if I could borrow them, and she said yes.
I began with the background building from the ground up.
This is the finished background.
I added the thistle.
I really wanted to use glitter, so I covered the blossom. I also added marker detail to the leaves.
However, I still felt a nudge to more on this page. It is something I have contemplated going back to do on others after sharing them publicly. I wanted to write about what was going on inside of me during the process.
A phone call with a friend this morning prompted me to add more words to the last picture, which is the real finished page. Scroll further.
As I think about art and myself ~ what is me ~ I battle the insecurity that says not good enough or not like someone else’s. This inspired the following words that I transferred from my journal to this page.
What is your style, Dear Reader? It is not mine. My intent in sharing this (rather personal) series of pages from my art journal this month is to inspire you to find your own artistic eye, not to copy mine. It is to share the joy of bringing something from inside of you out onto a blank page and create. It is to help you discover the beauty within you.
Each day I wonder, Is there something more inside of me? What if there isn’t? What if it isn’t good? What if I mess it up?
And each day that I create something the doubt grows smaller and the joy grows bigger.
But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and your soul you will find him. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT)
Stay on the path the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy. (5:33, NLT)
Today I wanted to design a page titled heart path.
I went to my friend’s house later than usual due to a schedule change. I spent the morning working around the house and cleaning up from the weekend. I intentionally waited on creating art until the afternoon.
My friend gave me a surprise gift bag filled with miscellaneous supplies including fun scrapbook papers, washi tape, and scented stickers. I decided to use the patterned papers in the bag for today’s design.
Here is what transpired in the 30 minutes I had to work on it after picking up my daughter from school and before heading out to choir. I think it’s pretty fun.
And here is my open journal with yesterday’s page opposite.
It was a rough Monday. There were bright spots mixed in, but overall I am ready for it to be finished. My heart is tired and headed on the path to walk the dog with one of my girls and then it’s heading to bed.
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
James 3:3 (NLT)
I did not take step-by-step pictures of today’s process. I created the page in the window of time between morning devotions and leaving for an 11:15 church service.
I chose two background pictures that spoke to me, and then a picture of horses.
I cut the backgrounds into strips which I alternated. Then I cut out the horses and glued them on.
This is the result. The title is at the bottom of this page which is where it seemed to fit.
One of my children said it looked like a bad photo shop job. I call it art.
Following is a journal entry I wrote after engaging a horse at Cross Keys Equine Therapy. I am including it as an added bonus for your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure.
When engaging with the horse, first get permission. Wait for the horse to come to you and reach out to touch you before touching it. Just like you wouldn’t walk up to a person and begin rubbing their arm, don’t walk up and start petting the horse.
Alicia addresses board members sitting around a table preparing to exit to the fields for an experience with the horses. We are to take some time visioning the work of Cross Keys and think about how we fit into that vision. I take up my spiral-bound journal and walk outside. Our first assignment is to sit and be still.
Walking towards the field with no horses in it, I am redirected kindly to another. I nervously laugh and try not to ascribe deep significance to my faux-pas. It is difficult for me to make a decision and stick with it; to not have someone assign me a place. I carry my pop-up chair to a field with three horses in the distance and sit.
The horses are black, brown, tan. They begin moving in my direction, then stop. Wind whips over me. I settle my heart, not wanting to be rushed in the space. I find it interesting that I am in a field with three horses. What is God doing? I am not a horse person.
My vision keeps tipping to trauma. That theme runs through my story and connects my people. In a month I will commence part 2 of a certificate in story-informed trauma work. I see Cross Keys as a place for healing and hope, recovery of self, a place to engage with what has brought trauma.
Where do I fit? What do I bring?
As I ponder these questions, two horses move closer. They come to me, first the brown then the black. The tan will meet up with me later. I do not yet know this. I feel tears as these powerful animals approach me and nudge me with their noses. In their presence I feel small as I am called to rejoin the others down in the arena.
We gather at the Hope Arena for instructions on part 2. This time some of us will volunteer to enter the ring with the honey-colored horse to experience what the work is like. A therapist and equine specialist facilitate this experience.
I watch the first volunteer engage the horse and do some work. The work is to make a connection with the horse, not to mount it or ride it or do something like that. Just connect. This volunteer courageously engages the experience, following the therapist’s and specialist’s lead. Upon exiting, another volunteer is invited to step in. There is a pregnant pause.
I feel the feeling. You know the one. It’s the standing on the edge of the high dive or the top of the boat house and wanting desperately to both step off and step back. I stepped up and into the ring, terrified. Ambivalence gripped me as I battled desire for more and fear of engagement.
Being so close to a large, powerful animal in the presence of my peers and a therapist and horse specialist was intense. My default is performance, and I wanted to do all of the things right. I wanted to make a connection with the horse which meant she had to move towards me. Because I didn’t check to see, but instinctively I felt her a she.
I began to name what I felt, which was fear. I felt afraid to step in and move closer, but this beautiful creature was inviting me in with her deep brown eyes and golden mane tossed to one side. I decided to trust and engage as myself which meant to walk alongside of her. She drew me in from the edge of the rail where I was lingering and walked with me further into the arena.
I talked with her in this process, naming that it was difficult for me to commit to moving deeper into a space, even here as I ponder where my fit is at the farm. She gently walked with me, leading me to a red pop-up chair further in the arena. Stopping in front of the chair, she tapped her nose down on its seat and stepped aside.
I could have analyzed and excused and come up with all of the reasons why what I felt in my gut was impossible, but instead I chose to stay with the feeling of invitation to sit and be. I sat down. The horse stood beside me. All was still. A cat jumped into my lap.
The ridiculousness of that final touch broke the spell, and laughter ensued from both me and my husband before spreading to the others. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT the type of person who has cats randomly jump into their lap, nor do I invite that from cats. This was clearly a moment.
During the debrief with therapist and horse specialist, I named what was stirring inside. Issues of trust, fear, commitment, place, and rest all were current and all were showing up in the presence of the horse. Her engagement with me was completely different than with those who went before and after. It was unique to my need.
I experienced the beauty of equine-assisted therapy, if only briefly. It is the ability of the horse to sense and bring to the present space what is stirring in the client’s world. It is a therapist helping to name what is happening with the client and a horse specialist naming the horse’s role in the process.
It is beautiful and healing. When I wonder how it would feel to move in from the edge of a space and take my place in the room, I remember walking alongside a horse as she moved me further in from the edge. I feel the invitation to sit and belong just as I am. And just in case I doubt, I feel that cat on my lap and the laughter in my heart and know that it is real.
Shortly after the experience, the girl who is not a horse girl found a picture of herself as a girl wearing her favorite shirt. She feels this when she looks at the picture. That was my favorite shirt! You can see joy in all of the eyes.
I am going to be curious about that girl. Maybe she is a horse girl, after all!