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Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Seven | Crosses

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) The cross, while certainly a symbol of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice for us, is also a symbol of his utterly selfless love and his promise to us that, by following him, we may enjoy eternal life. The cross serves as a compass, ever and always leading us to love.

the world; helping the weak, tending the sick, feeding the poor, loving and forgiving our enemies. This is the central message we are given from Jesus by which to live. Simple, but not always easy. “...if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

Jesus instructs us that, to be his followers, we cannot be led by self-interest. We must put others before ourselves and Jesus above all. This is an enormous and ongoing commitment, requiring a continual setting aside of selfishness and taking onto our shoulders the burdens of Jesus instructs us not only to love others, but to show our love to the world through our actions, by which we praise God and declare our commitment to Christ to the world. “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” (Matthew 7:16) 

We enter Heaven not by thinking or talking, but by doing. By sharing in others’ suffering we are opening ourselves up to Jesus’ love and to God’s grace.

Jesus knows we are not perfect, but that our intentions should be to active for the greater good. He tells us that when we love and serve others, we are also loving and serving him. See Christ in others and no one is a stranger. “Love each other...your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) 

The only true kindness is one that cannot be repaid.


If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

Do I behave in ways that don’t seem self-serving at first glance but, upon deeper examination, surprisingly reveal a selfishness I did not previously recognize? There are the obvious missed opportunities to love others: not volunteering to serve in the soup kitchen to sleep in on Saturday mornings, avoiding the gaze of the homeless person on the street who could have a hot meal with dollars in my wallet. The discomfort we feel in these situations is because we are essentially turning away from Jesus at these times.

Then there are other ways we might be putting our interests above others: Do we monopolize the conversation or insist on being the center of attention in every social situation? Do we treat everything as a competition? Selfishness can be subtle, but still lead us off of the path of Christian love. “Deliberately invest in people on your path.” (Heather Holleman)

“To respond as Jesus responded suddenly floods into being as the illuminating purpose that gives everything in life definition and meaning...We are not seeking to say it...we are seeking
to do it.” (Michael Phillips)

“Christ’s outstretched arms on the Cross are God’s answer to our childlike question: ‘How much do you love me?’’This much!’ How big is that stretch? It is the distance between Heaven and earth... The Cross is the ‘operative definition’ of love. It is what happens when perfect love meets the fallen world.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

We must choose again and again, continuously, to take up our cross and follow Jesus, “The
cross is a moment-by-moment way of life.” (Michael Phillips)

Jesus’ instructions for how we should live our lives is simple, “...Follow me,” (Matthew 4:19) which may require us to, “...abandon all candy-coated versions of the gospel in order to experience the real gospel...go beyond admiring Jesus, even beyond praising Jesus, in order to resemble Jesus.” (Bishop William C. Frey)

“...this is a very dangerous thing, this loving-thing. It changes you. It changes your life. It’s as objectively real as a large, hot rock thrown in your face. It’s not just a thought or feeling inside you; it really happens. We unite with what we love. We become what we love...The more you love Christ, the more Christlike you become.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

Thank you for joining me this week. I hope you continue your bible study and use your art journal as a visual diary of your faith.




Additional Journaling prompts :

“...times of solitude can help create the right atmosphere for God’s work.” ~ Amy Simpson

“God will give you the right words at the right time.” (Matthew 10:19-20)

“...God does not discover truth, as we do. He decrees it, He creates it. We do this too, partially, in the creative arts. There we make truth...” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)
“...with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“ will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your can pray for anything and, if you believe that you‘ve received it, it will be yours.”
(Mark 11:23-24)

“...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 open to you. For everyone who seeks, finds.
And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

“Your Father already knows all of your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and
he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:30-31)

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.” (Luke 18:27)

“Start with the soul and perhaps the temporal gifts I want to exercise will have their chance... God must be in all my work.” (Flannery O’Connor)

“Christ actively liberates by truth, as God does. Christ is not a scientist but an artist.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

Jesus assures us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Six | Birds

We live in an age of anxiety, a continuous parade of tragedies streamed before us by the news media, warnings of how we might ourselves be vulnerable and broken, delicate and exposed as sparrows in the field. We are reminded to trust that God is always aware of our needs.
actually not ours to carry. We can trust in God to provide what we need.

“What is the price of five sparrows - two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, unsupported and paralyzed by the demands of life and worry. This burden, although not easy to put down, is “...your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:8) “Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” (Luke 12:24-26)

By our worry and anxiety, we are demonstrating a lack of faith in God’s protective presence. “... don’t be concerned about what to eat and drink. Don’t worry about such things...your Father already knows your needs...don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:29-32) “...the frenzy is caused by an eagerness for what I want and not a spiritual trust.” (Flannery O’Connor)

The Kingdom of God will keep our eternal souls nourished and vibrant. The Kingdom of God, “ like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:31-32)

The love of God surrounds us and keeps us safe and gives our souls wings. “Pray, and let God worry.” (Martin Luther)


If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

“...I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds.

They don’t plant or harvest of store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t
you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

“God gives every bird his worm, but he does not throw it in the nest.” (P.D. James)

“Just as the bird sings or the butterfly soars, because it is (her) natural characteristic, the
artist works.” (Alma Gluck)

“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just
do.” (Eric Jerome Dickey)

“My heart is like a singing bird.” (Christina Rossetti) 


Tomorrow: Crosses

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Five | Wind & Waves

Wind and waves in the gospel often represent adversity. “Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” (Matthew 8:23-27)

Jesus instructs us to trust and have absolute child-like faith in him. We only need to keep moving forward, knowing he can and will calm the wind and the waves, that we may safely navigate, or at least withstand, the trouble and adversity in our lives in the shelter of his love.

“Grace will meet you in the valley and her song will travel on the wind to carry you home to another sky filled with ethereal beauty unfolding and life everlasting.” (Shannon Alder)

Often, adversity is sent to us in order to make us stronger, to lift us up, ultimately, to a higher state of being. “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” (Winston Churchill) How might our suffering lead us to an opening up to grace?

Wind is also portrayed in the gospels as physical evidence of the Holy Spirit. “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

“...our destiny is to sail the great deep of God himself...wild and free, with the wind of the
Holy Spirit in our sails...” (Peter Keeft)

Notice the wind on your face and breathe in the Holy Spirit, giving thanks for being surrounded by its loving embrace. It is with you always, suffusing you with light and love and guiding you gently toward a deeper relationship with God. Often, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through intuition.

Consider and journal about ways in which adversity in your life has made you stronger and ultimately brought richer meaning to your life and added depth to your spiritual connection to Christ. How has the Holy Spirit guided you by intuition? You are never alone.

“The Holy Spirit is an advocate that will never leave you.” (John 14:16-17) 


If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

“Close your eye and turn your face into the wind. Feel it sweep along your skin in an invisible ocean of exhalation. Suddenly, you know you are alive.” (Vera Nazarian)

“Listening to intuition is similar to watching wind wiggle a pond. Allow the ripples to move you where you need to be.” (Soul Dancer)

“Whenever you touch a poem that caresses your soul, breathe it gently for it might be the wind that perfects your life’s goal.” (A. Saleh)

“There are some things you learn in calm, and some in storm.” (Willa Cather)

“The storms come a go, the waves crash overhead. The big fish eat the little fish, and I keep
on paddling” (George R.R. Martin)


Tomorrow: Birds

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Four | Water & Rain

Our bodies are made up of 72% water. We are watery beings, hosting vibrant souls. Living water flowing on a watery planet. Throughout the gospels, water and rain are seen as life- giving blessings, offering a quenching of thirst and a cleansing renewal.

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” (Leonard da Vinci)

We are baptized with and in water, a cleansing of spirit as we are dedicated to God and reborn in Christ. “No one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being born of water and the spirit.” (John 3:5)

Today, consider how you might use water in a reverent way, in gratitude to God for blessings rained down upon you and for the new life and cleansing of sin given to you by Jesus Christ.

Whether you are wading in the ocean, floating in a pool or a tub, standing under a hot shower or drinking a cool glass of water, be aware of the many ways you rely upon and enjoy the use of water in your life and say a prayer of thanks. Consider yourself washed clean of guilty feelings, bad habits or a nagging worries and feel renewed in the love of Christ.



If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

In a state of grace, the soul is like a well of limpid water, from which flow only streams of clearest crystal. Its works are pleasing both to God and man, rising from the river of life.” (St. Teresa of Avila)

“Healing rain is a real touch from God.” (Michael W. Smith)

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (John 7:37-38) “...those who

drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:14)

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” (Rumi)

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain
sing you a lullaby.” (Langston Hughes)

“A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.” (Frederick the Great)


Tomorrow: Wind & Waves

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Three | Tree & Branches

Sometimes the answer to prayer appears to be, “No,” or, “Not now.” Though painful, this is actually a part of the careful pruning that is necessary for our spiritual development, the lopping off of unproductive and unhealthy thoughts, habits and desires.

Through our pain and disappointment, we can find comfort in the knowledge of God’s greater knowledge and plan for us, “...the divine gardener prunes us, killing the lesser life to grow the greater.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus) There is no doubt that this seems difficult, even

impossible, at these times of spiritual growth. “The pruned bush naturally doubts the good intentions of the gardener. But if it lets itself be pruned now, in faith, it will see next year why it was right to trust the gardener...We do not see the perfect plant we will become by His pruning...” (Peter Keeft)

It is through this pruning that we produce a more fruitful harvest of Christian love and spiritual development. In what ways have you been pruned by God? Often, in retrospect, what appeared to be painful setbacks actually served a life-changing catalysts for positive change and spiritual growth. Say a prayer of thanks for this careful tending of your soul by God.

“I am the true grapevine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit...When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples...go and produce lasting fruit...This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:1-8, 16-17)



If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

Trees are enduring symbols of renewal and growth. Take a look around you today and notice the trees in your yard or on your path. Really notice them. They are gifts to the earth, and all of us, from God. “Only God can make a tree.” (Joyce Kilmer)

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” (Matthew 12:33)

Jesus instructed us to love one another. “We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.” (Pablo

“A tree is such a rich metaphor in a million beautiful ways. You can consider a tree growing
and...its connectedness to all things above and under the ground.” (Ann Brashares)

What are your fruits? Art? Music? Writing? Poetry? Athleticism? Compassion? Whatever it is, give thanks for it and share it with the world - a palpable expression of joyful Christian love.
“Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree.” (Henry Miller)

“ prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.” (Henri Matisse)
“Art is the tree of life.” (William Blake)


Tomorrow:  Water & Rain

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Two | Angel Wings

Would you recognize when you are being visited by an angel? God sends his angels to protect us and guide us, sometimes in the form of other people. We are often ourselves used as angels, as instruments by God in the service of others. Angels are always watching over us all, as we are children of God.

“...anyone who welcomes a little child...on my behalf is welcoming me...I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:5-10) 

Angels are suffused with the light and love of God.

Angels often appear in dreams in the gospels. Have you ever felt that you have been given wisdom in a dream? When we awake from a dream with strong emotions that stay with us throughout the day, perhaps we have been visited by an angel. We would do well to respect these dreams and consider how they might be delivering divine wisdom sent to inform our waking life.

Today, consider how you may have been visited by an angel in your life. How might you have been used as an instrument by God in the service of someone? Send up a prayer of gratitude for these miraculous events and journal about how your life has been shaped by angelic guidance and protection.



If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

We are all capable of being used by God in the service of others. We are all hosts to angels in the service of others, the raw material for the will of God made manifest. What would an encounter with an angel look like? “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” (Michaelangelo)

Jesus’ message to us that we love one another is made manifest in our willingness to guide and protect each other. “If there is anything that keeps the mind open to angel is
human love.” (Nathaniel Parker Willis)

We are our best and most authentic selves when we act from a position of love. “The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking
angel stirs.” (James Allen)


Tomorrow: Tree & Branches

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day One | Rays of Light

Make a prayer date with yourself outside in the sunshine this week. As you are warmed by the rays of the sun, look around you and feel the light and warmth as palpable love pouring down on you and all of creation. Say a prayer of gratitude for this light, and love, that continually nurtures and transforms you.

Journal about how you feel when you are in the light and what light means to you - love, truth, personal insight, eternal optimism, joy. If you have been holding on to darkness or pain, “find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.” (Joseph Campbell)

Consider your own internal light - the light of your soul. How are you shining your light out into the world? Do you have talents undeveloped, loving thought unexpressed, exuberance suppressed? How might you allow your light to shine brighter and with broader scope - so that Jesus’ love, though you, may even more brilliantly shine upon the world?

How might you recognize and acknowledge the light of Christian love in others? How can you help others to shine more brightly, to become more like Jesus, who came, “ a light to shine in this dark world...” (John 12:46)

This week, allow yourself radiant, joyful expression. Let Christ’s love shine out from your soul for all to see. Jesus is, “the one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone.” (John 1:9)


If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

“You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Light is love and truth. “Nothing is so pure as light...Nothing can defile its rays or pollute its beams...shines equally on prince and pauper...shines upon both slums and palaces.” (Herbert Lockyer) Jesus’ love and truth are for everyone and we are not to keep this light, love and truth to ourselves, but share it with the world. “A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.(Mark 4:21-22)

Through our Christian fellowship, we are to, “radiate a spiritual revelation to all life and example Christians are to show the way back to God.” (Herbert Lockyer) “If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:36)

Light is dual in nature, made up of both waves and particles. Light, as truth and love, is therefore a force and a thing, a way for us to mentally and physically experience God, at least in the limited scope that we are able to perceive by way of our minds and bodies. But, “... atoms are not as real as souls, and souls are not as real as God.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus) Our souls are our most ‘real’ selves and our most intimate connection to God. 

“How far that little candle throws his beams. So shines a good deed in a weary
world.” (William Shakespeare)

“The purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eye, to reveal the marvels
around.” (Paulo Coelho)

“...we all shine one, like the moon, the stars and the sun.” (John Lennon)


Tomorrow: Angel Wings

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | A Free 7 Day E-Course

I was invited to produce this week-long Bible Study/Art Journaling/Stencil Making class for MadeCourse 2014, which has continued on as MadeTribe. 

The proprietary rights to my class reverted back to me after the course was a year old, so I share it with you here now. 

The course was designed to include beginner-level students, so the techniques used are simple.

The bible study includes all four books of the Gospel. The art journaling and stencil making relate to imagery found in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel.

Each of the 7 days' bible study and art video will be uploaded daily. I hope you enjoy the class! 




Introduction & Supply List

We live in a noisy, chaotic world, subjected to an avalanche of urgent messages telling us how to improve ourselves, how to behave and how to live. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure to constantly reshape ourselves as instructed by this magazine or that self-help book or those celebrity advice-givers.

As our lives continue to speed up and our attention and focus is fractured into ever smaller pieces by the rush and barrage of modern life, what a sweet relief and comfort it is to realize that the only true rules for living were laid out for us in gorgeous simplicity by Jesus Christ as told to us by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35) “In every age the parables prove their startling modernity. They are more recent than today’s newspaper...They are as recent as present breathing, as vivid in their tang as the ‘now’ of immediate experience.” (Dr. George A. Buttrick)

“I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37) “ must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Through art, prayer, and in fellowship with each other, we will consider what it means to follow the teachings of Jesus and live the Christian life. We will explore who we are as spiritual beings through the use of shape, color and mark making ~ experiencing our creativity as a method for receiving and opening up to the love and compassion central to Jesus' message.

Perhaps our creativity is a manifestation of our spirituality. Is God creating through us? Are we vehicles for the divine? As we contemplate Christ’s message, we will use our creativity as a vehicle to communicate with God as we open up to the infinite.

The simple techniques in this class will be especially useful for the art journaling beginner. We will create our own stencils and use them in various ways in our art journals, inspired by the imagery used by Jesus in his teachings. Creating shapes and building layers of texture with child- like simplicity help us to remember we are all children of God.

“Let the children come to me...For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these
children.” (Matthew 19:14) We will let our raw, honest and child-like creative expression serve as an opening up to the Holy Spirit.

For each day of this week’s class, there is a short video demonstrating how I cut and used a different stencil on an art journal page. Cutting stencils is easy, so I zipped through the process just to give you quick look at how I used the stencil in my art journal. You can use my template (links to the templates as .pdf ’s are included) or your own design. We’ll share our creations in the Facebook group.

Also, there will be several creative and spiritual prompts for you to consider and prayerfully meditate upon, journal about and/or inspire your art. Our spiritual discussions and sharing of art in the group is by no means limited to these prompts, which you can use in any order, or not at all. Go where the Spirit takes you!

If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

I look forward to getting to know you all and am so thrilled to be led to this fellowship with other Christian artists and friends.

The bible passages quoted in this class are from the New Living Translation (NLT) EverydayMatters Bible for Women.



Cutting Mat (I used glass, but a regular cutting mat is fine)
Blank Stencils (I got mine from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby)

Permanent Black Pen (I used Scarlet Lime and Pigma Micron in the instructional videos) Craft Knife (I used a heavy-duty Fiskars craft knife)
Acrylic Paint
Cosmetic Sponges (I used inexpensive Wal-Mart brand wedges)
  • Embossing Paste ,Molding Paste, or other acrylic texturizing medium
  • White (or clear) wax crayon
  • Acrylic Ink
  • Small Spray Bottle(s)
  • Palette Knife and/or old credit card
  • Masking Tape
  • Art Journal (with watercolor or mixed media paper, if possible, since the heavier pages easily
    accept wet media)
  • Baby Wipes

Friday, January 8, 2016

Quilt for a Quilter

I made this 10" x 10" mini quilt for my sweet friend,
fellow artist and quilting mentor Sandra Kaye
for Christmas.

I used Gyleen X. Fitzgerald's pineapple template
to make the tone on tone aqua and teal background,
then used my Stampin' Up! Big Shot die cut machine
to make this bird applique.

I lightly zig-zag stitched around the bird with gold thread
and then finished the quilt with a lime green accented flange binding.

Sandra loved it and immediately hung it on her mini quilt wall!