Thursday, 26 December 2013

Hope rising

I had a bad few days physically again before Christmas, the fatigue flared up with a vengeance after going to work leaving me feeling really ill and fed up - I thought I had seen the back of it for a while.  I sunk pretty low one day before I was able to get hold of myself, turn to God and pray.  I've learnt over the years that its no use pretending, actually just like in the psalms God wants us to be real.  So I am, I pour out my feelings in prayer and turn to Him for help. 

Art journaling is a real help in this situation because I can express myself in paint and colour together with words.  I did two pages while I was feeling like this.

This one, I started off in a very low place so decided I would do the page all black and grey - just like I was feeling.  But as I worked and wrote the journaling out and prayed, I started to feel a lot better.  When I turn my eyes on God and off me, as I've said before, things always seem better.

The backround is acrylic and then stenciling and stamping in shades of grey and black.  I added my home made texture paste through a stencil and I love the effect:


I stamped the clocks to show this sense of waiting to be better, waiting on God for strength.  The page was going to be in unrelieved black and grey when I started, but by the time I finished I was so much more positive that I had to add white, hence the star which I embossed in white snowflake embossing powder:
I wrote the journaling on a scrap of paper, folded it and glued it:

My other page is much brighter:

The backround is blue acrylic with white, and this lovely heart stamp which came free with Craft Stamper magazine a few months ago.  
The paper circles and pieces are from Christmas wrapping paper, I loved the trees and snowflakes and the colours:
I journaled round the circles and pieces:


So after art journaling therapy and a few days rest I felt much better and was able to enjoy Christmas with my family.  In fact its still going on!  

I hope you have all had a happy time too.

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Lord is my Shepherd

I created this mini book on the 23rd psalm for my mother-in-law:


Sheep again! punched ones this time.  The backround is sponged distress inks, spattered with water then sprayed with pearl cosmic shimmer mist. 





Its a concertina book and fun to make.

 The psalm inspired this page in my art journal:

I like to read my bible in the amplified version sometimes and this psalm is wonderful in this version.  Here are a few extracts:

The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide and shield me 
He refreshes and restores my life (my self)
You anoint my head with oil; my (brimming) cup runs over
and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His Presence] shall be my dwellling place.

How wonderful is that?  As we head into Christmas lets reflect on the wonder of Jesus being born all those years ago, and the wonder of His Presence with us today.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Eyes Up!

This is a very simple page - just playing with a mask and acrylic paint.  I wanted to show a woman with her arms reaching out but couldn't find a suitable picture so had a go at drawing one.  This is the first ever 'person' I've drawn and cut out - I can't really draw so I was quite pleased with the result.  Then journaling written in pencil and torn into strips - this is a quick way of adding journaling which I really like.  The title is handwritten in pen - I'm in the middle of doing Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's class 'Getting Started with Lettering' and am trying to be braver with handwriting - I've got to practice more!


She is lifting her hands up and worshiping God - as we worship God our eyes are on Him and not ourselves and it really helps to get a proper perspective on things!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Have joy!

The last few weeks have been really rough again in health.  This time due to horrible fluey cold which I got twice in quick succession.  However, I've managed to keep my spirits up most of the time!  And the last two days in my prayer time God has led me to scriptures about rejoicing!  So this is what I'm doing - how could I not rejoice when God has blessed me so wonderfully with my family, friends, church, I could go on and on....

I had to express this in my art journal and of course it had to be a bright fun page:


I started with a canary yellow backround and then added a backround which I'd done for a card but didn't like how it came out.  I tore it into pieces and stuck down randomly.

 Then stenciling and stamping.  I didn't have a canary stamp but I love this bird - doesn't it look like its rejoicing?!


And I added sheep because they look happy too, in fact I got a bit carried away with the sheep.....there's a lot of them.

The scriptures on rejoicing:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess 5: 16-18

Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, 
knowing that suffering produces endurance, 
and endurance produces character, 
and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, 
because God's love has been poured into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
Rom 5: 2-5

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Free to be ME

I've been a Christian for about 25 years and its been a really interesting journey!  I can safely say I am not the person now I was 25 years ago and that's not just due to the colour of my hair now  (reddy brown covering silvery grey and brown mix :) .   I much prefer the person I am today.  As Christians we are meant to surrender our lives to the Lord and to live His way.  I've come to realise that there is freedom in living in surrender - freedom to be who God intended ME to be and NOT who I think I should be; freedom to do what God wants me to do which is always good and NOT what I think I should do which isn't always good.

This is the page I did when I was thinking about this:


I stenciled the flowers and bird in bright colours to be coming out of a broken down wall - being free!  I love birds so here's a closer peek:


The more art journaling I do, the more I love it.  Its just such a good way to play with paint and colour and express what's going on in our true hearts.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Eat good things

This is the second page I did for the newspaper challenge set by Julie for Art Journal Every Day.  I used words torn out from a newspaper this time.  I saw the words hunger and Eat! and it made me think how important it is to eat the right things to be healthy.  Then I thought this is the same for everything, not just eating.  For example, if I spend too much time watching the wrong kind of tv programme that's not going to do me any good.  I need to feed myself with good things and I need to feed my spirit with the things of God.  Jesus said, 

"I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, 
and he who believes in me shall never thirst."
John 6: 35-36
When I spend time with Jesus in prayer, or at church, or am just conscious of  Him as I go about my day I just feel better!

This is my page:


I really enjoyed doing this.  The backround started out with colour which I'd previously scraped on a page when I had an accident with a Cosmic Shimmer bottle!

 I filled the rest of the page with yellow and orange with Brilliance inkpads:

But I didn't like it so I mixed blue acrylic with a little perfect pearl and scraped it all over the top so just a little of the colour beneath showed through which I really liked:

Then I added doodling:


This was really fun to do and definitely satisfied my creative hunger!  It also led me to do this page where I cut shapes out of newspaper.


Spending time with Jesus is definitely feasting on love!  And that means that I'll have more love to give out to those around me.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Sometimes I need to NOT think

I've been thinking more about..... NOT thinking!  lol!  Sometimes I overthink things when I should either be getting on with things or just not doing or worrying but resting.

We had a challenge from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer for Art Journal Every Day to use newspaper in an art journal page.  I'm really enjoying this challenge, here's my first page using newspaper, I'm sure I'll be doing more!


The backround is red and blue acrylic painted with a dry paint brush and white acrylic through a hexagon stencil. Then I put my home made black texture paste through the mini tile stencil.  I really like the effect:

I added punched scalloped circles and daisies from newspaper.  I used a black bit of the newspaper for the daisies and love how one of them has the word 'jelly' - I love jelly :)

I don't like this page that much.  Still, it reflects too much thinking!
 
This is the scripture I'm going to meditate on to help me with not overthinking things:
Thou dost keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on thee,
because he trusts thee.
Is 26:3

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Listening hard .... hearing nothing

In my earlier post 'His Way' I said that I was trying to commit all my plans to the Lord.  I was trying lay my plans before Him and seek His blessing before proceeding.  However, what's meant to happen if I can't seem to hear His answer?  

I had asked God about proceeding with something I wanted to do.  I prayed and asked and prayed and read my bible but I couldn't seem to get a clear yes or no!  What are we meant to do in these circumstances?

I believe God hears our every prayer and that He answers.  But I was listening hard and hearing nothing.  I think in the end I was listening too hard, maybe I was trying to hear one particular answer, a yes in this case!  So I tried to relax and asked God to speak to me through His word instead as I ask Him every day when I read the bible.  He lead me to this:


The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to His church.
Eph 5: 22 The Message

I felt God was asking me to ask Dominic, my husband!  So I did and Dominic got me to consider again whether I really wanted and had time to do this and only then did I get an answer.

So the lesson or lessons to me in all this:
  • Don't try very very hard to hear God speak, relax!  His answer will come.
  • Be open to hearing an answer you weren't expecting.
  • Be ready to hear God's answer from someone else.
  • Accept a no! or a wait.
This is what came out in my art journal:


This was a page where I had scraped excess paint while doing previous pages so it started off with random bits of different paint.  I added stenciled dots and stamped circles and map and then the journaling.  I love how the rough paint reflects the noise in my head of too much thinking.

The answer was yes.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

His Way

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, 
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jer 29: 11

If ever I wonder what is going on with my life, I go back to this scripture.  God has plans for me, I trust Him to know what is best for me, therefore I won't worry but seek to learn from what is happening, and to grow.

I'm also learning to commit my plans to the Lord.  I used to be someone who would charge at things, loving to be busy busy busy.  Maybe that's why I ended up getting chronic fatigue!!!  God has taught me a lot in all this.  Being busy for the sake of being busy is not a good thing.  I've learnt to be in rest more and I'm learning to lay my plans before the Lord and ask His blessing, being ready to do something else at His prompting.  I say I'm learning, because I haven't completely learnt it yet!  I sometimes forget to lay my plans before Him and charge ahead - old habits die hard - but I'm getting there.  

Here's my art journal page:

My starting point for this page was a backround I'd done on a loose bit of paper, thinking I would make a man's card.  I liked how it came out so much that I decided to use it on an art journal page.  I tore it up and stuck the pieces around the page to reflect the fact that although we make plans we never see the whole picture.  Then I painted in the gaps, doodled my title and wrote the journaling all around. 

God's way is always best.  The scripture from Jeremiah goes on to say:


Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  
You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, 
I will be found by you, says the Lord.
Jer 29: 12-14

We rest in His plans, we call and pray and seek Him with all our hearts, and His promise is that we find Him.  Isn't that awesome.

May God bless your plans for today.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Optimism!


I really enjoyed doing this page - simple lines in colour with Derwent Inktense blocks which I love.  They are watercolour crayons with the most intense colour.  It always gives me a thrill when I brush water over the faint colour just applied and these vivid colours pop up - wonderful.  I stamped and doodled and then got on with the journaling which was the point of the page but I wrote in white so it wouldn't detract from the bright colours.

Obviously I was feeling good when I did this page!  I was so grateful to God and wanted to express that.  This autumn, right at the beginning of September, as usual I became unwell with another bout of chronic fatigue.  I say "as usual" because its been the 4th year on the trot that I've been plagued by fatigue after years of being ok.  I thought at the time, o no here we go again.  But I really prayed to God and said that I really really did not want to take any time off sick from work and I had to be well enough to jump on an airplane and go and visit my mother in Gibraltar with my daughter at the end of October.

God is so faithful!  He did hear my prayer and answered.  It wasn't easy but I only had 2 days off which I took as holiday and I managed to go on working (I only work 2 days a week) although not quite all my hours.  I also went to Gibraltar and even came back refreshed and better.  

Here is a picture of us on the beach in Gibraltar.  It was really warm and we could have gone swimming if only we'd had our bathing costumes. 





I trusted God and he answered.

The reason I put my art journal page right at the beginning of the post is that it has helped me to hang on when I've been in danger of losing that optimism.  Whenever I've felt myself starting to lose that spark I've remembered this page and said to myself, Optimism because I trust.  

So I trust God and remain full of optimism!

Friday, 8 November 2013

He Hears!

I just love to pray!  I don't know how I would manage without prayer.  There are so many needs for many of my family and friends, so much stuff I can't actually do anything about except take to God and pray.  

There are many words in the bible on prayer but the one most on my heart at the moment is:

Pray constantly
Thess 5: 17 

I feel so much better after praying.  I know God hears and answers my every prayer even though I may have to wait for it.

I was inspired to do this art journal page from an ad of a hot air balloon - I can't remember what it was advertising now!  But I just thought right away - the balloons are like our prayers all rising up to God.



The backround is blue and white acrylics painted with my fingers - messy and so much fun.  Then stamped with a script and circles.  The basket is paper and the lines are drawn in.  The balloons are punched circles some of which I raised on foam pads for depth and I wrote prayers on them.



 
I love this page and so does my husband, Dominic.  He wants me to frame it and hang it up....but its in my art journal with another favourite page on the other side!

I hope you will be encouraged to pray without ceasing too and imagine your prayers floating up to heaven to be answered by God.

Blessings to  you!

Monday, 4 November 2013

A New Chapter

I've come back from a few days away visiting my Mum with a new optimism and positivity.  This is a chance for a new beginning.  I want to put into practice what I feel God has been saying to me recently - I don't have to waste my time when I'm having to rest to recover from a bout of chronic fatigue.  I can still use this time well.  I may not have energy to 'do' lots of stuff but I can still pray, and prayer is so very crucial.  Prayer changes things because God hears and answers our every prayer - not always in the way we want or expect! but with what is needed.  

Then I got to thinking that I also need to use my time better when I'm well and have more energy and am able to do more.  I don't want to fritter this precious energy away but use it wisely.  So I decided to 'give' God my time.  I will ask Him to show me what are the important things to do and do those.

I'm excited by this new chapter in my life, my new beginning.  Its going to be an adventure!  I really will be walking with Jesus and doing what He wants.

Here's my art journal page:


This is a very simple and quick backround - ink pads stamped direct onto the paper applied with different pressure on each stamp to get a cool effect.  Its also an easy background to write lots on.  I added the stamped ribbon effect to separate each section plus some fancy circles in the non writing sections.  

It may not be New Year's Day, but its definitely a good new beginning!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Rubbish....BUT .....trusting

Its so hard to stay upbeat when struggling with tiredness.  I'd been feeling loads better but have sunk down into fatigue again.  And when this happens I end up feeling rubbish with myself.  I know I have to down tools and rest to recover and get better so I stay home and do......not very much at all - that's resting, right?  Then I start to ask myself, "What am I meant to be doing with my life?"  I'm wasting it away.  What will Jesus say to me when I get to heaven?!!! 

I know from bitter experience that I need to get with God ASAP.  Its not that I'm going to instantly get healed and get loads of energy, though that could happen, just that it hasn't yet.  But I know I can pour out my heart and let out all my negative feelings, I can feel sorry for myself and complain that its not fair and says all sorts of stupid things - I know God is listening.  He meets me where I am, down in the black  hole and its when I reach out my hand and say, "Help me", that He reaches down and lifts me up.  I know and trust that He is always there for me.  He WILL give me strength.  He will give me strength to endure and wait, and strength in my body too.

My prayer today is, "Lord, forgive me for complaining and thank you for all the good and wonderful things in my life.  Help to use this resting time better.  Help me to pray more.  Teach me to be."

I did some art journaling which is always helpful.  Here are the pages.  The first one has all my negative feelings but also includes turning to Jesus so getting postive!


The second one is more positive.


And the last one is a very simple page on strength rising!


And here Chris Tomlin's wonderful song that inspired this last page




So yes, I'm trusting and feeling better!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A New Name

We sang this song at church last night and it moved me to tears...... again. The song is about the transforming power of Jesus when we surrender our lives to Him. No matter how damaged or hurt we can find healing and new life if we only allow Jesus in.

Here are the words:


I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid
I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks My face

I know Jesus has changed me and is still changing me - I'm a work in progress!  He's set me free from - to name a few things - anger and fear, from comfort eating and resentment, from feeling I don't belong.  He's given me a new family in my church family.   He's given me a new purpose in my life so I have confidence in what I do.  He loves me and has saved me and is my friend so I have joy.  He gives me strength so I can overcome.  I owe everything to Jesus so I'm faithful.  I want to know Him more so I seek His face.

I love my new name!
 
I hope you enjoy the song sung here by Crossways to Life.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Through the Veil

Following on from Longing for Longing......The more we know God, the more we love Him, worship Him and want to know Him more.  Tozer said that what keeps us from God is a veil over our hearts.  Just as in the old testament a veil separated the Holy of Holies where God dwelt where only the High Priest could go once a year, so our own hearts have a veil which prevent us from seeing God.  This veil is the self-life: our selfishness, self-centredness, self-righteousness, self-pity, self-love, self-sufficiency, etc. Tozer says the only way to tear down this veil is through the cross:

"Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life, hoping ourselves to rend the veil.  God must do everything for us.  Our part is to yeild and trust.  We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified." (The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer)

So it all comes down to surrender.  We surrender all of ourselves and our wills to God.  The song below by Nicole Brown sums it all up:

God of grace, God of mercy;
God of hope, God of truth.
You are my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear?
I shall not be moved.

I bring my life, I bring my choices,
I  bring my mind, Lord I bring my heart.
Here I am, in full surrender
I give you all, take every part.

Here I come through the veil;
Here I stand, I seek your face,
Here I am, my life laid bare before You.
I'm lost without You.




Thursday, 17 October 2013

Longing for Longing

I've been reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.  Our walk with God really does have to be all about seeking Him with all our hearts.  However long we've been a Christian, there's still so much deeper and closer to God we can go.  In his book Tozer prays a beautiful prayer:  

"Lord, I want to want Thee, I long to be filled with longing, I thirst to be made more thirsty still."  

Just like David in Psalm 63:


O God, thou art my God, I seek Thee,
my soul thirsts for Thee;
my flesh faints for Thee,
as in a dry and weary land
where no water is.
So I have looked upon Thee in the sanctuary,
beholding Thy power and glory.
Because They steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise Thee.
So I will bless Thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on Thy name.
Ps 63: 1-4

This is my prayer today:  Lord, I want to want you so much more.  I want to know you so much more.  I long to be filled with longing.  I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  However much I know you, it falls so far short of who You are.  Lord, help me get to know you more, help me to walk with you more closely.  Thank you, Lord.

Here's my art journal page:


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Fruits - Cultivate Them All!

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, 
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Gal 5:22

I used to pray for specific fruits - patience when I'd lost my temper, self-control when I was trying to diet, love when I found someone difficult, etc.  I used to pray, "Lord if I have your Spirit I should have this fruit."  But I've come to see that the fruits of the Spirit all go together.  For example:

How can we have self-control if we haven't got patience?
It would be hard to have joy if we haven't got peace. 
If we have kindness we've probably got goodness.   
And without love we probably couldn't have gentleness or faithfulness.
We couldn't have gentleness if we didn't have patience.
Without patience we can't have peace.
To have peace we could do with goodness.
For goodness we surely need love.
And so on!

So this is why I came to the conclusion that we need to cultivate all the fruits.  So my prayer now is, "Lord, fill me with your Spirit.  As your life fills me there will be less of me and more of you so the fruits of your Spirit will grow in me".  Thank you, Lord.

Here's my art journal page inspired by these thoughts.



 This page came together quickly.  Blue acrylic scraped on with a credit card leaving the odd white patch.  I have a lovely script stamp of the fruits of the Spirit which I stamped in white and the red is acrylic through a Crafters Workshop mini mosaic stencil.


I typed up the words and tore them out.  It was a really fun page to do.

Bless you and happy growing!