Friday, April 18, 2014

Glue: #FiveMinuteFriday

We sit at the low table and make an Easter craft together. For me glue on the fingers is not much more than a slight annoyance. For him it is an unparalleled sensory roller coaster. Autism is is a blessing like that. The sweet boy may not be able to hold a full grasp of language but he can suck the marrow out of the places in life we ignore.

And then there is he whose face shows the distinct characteristics of Downs. He is the hugger, lover, always smiling boy. The one you go to if you need your day brightened. He can't fully articulate faith but he knows: we have so much to celebrate.

And the high functioning boy on the spectrum? He can move through most social situations with ease. But it is his emotions that allude him. And when I suggest we pray to God about his "brain being crowded." He speaks the truth we all often feel but are too afraid to voice. Usually when we need to pray the most we feel like praying the least.

And it's amazing that the God who loves the orphan and widow also loves the other outcasts of society. The homeless, the cheater, the mentally handicapped.

In the same way that we glue that paper Easter Lilly, to page His blood flows wet on the ground to our souls. His blood that pieces our lives together can also glue back the missing links in our minds.

On Fridays I join with a community of writers that encourage one another. You can join us here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Recap of the Missional Women Conference: An Open Letter

 Dear Ladies of the Missional Women Conference,

You are my people. You and your big hearts, sweet smiles, and perfectly imperfect ministries. You are my people. The way you welcome this new kid on the block, serve one another without reserve, and share deeply around a table spread with food to strangers and friends. You are my people.

You are the let your hair down, breathe deep, it's ok to not always wear makeup or have it all together type. You refresh my soul. When I walk into a room where you are? I feel like I can breathe. Stop pretending. Stop striving and trying to earn your love. Just be me. And you do more than accept this broken introverted, Florida girl who gets giddy with a few inches of snow. You welcome me with open arms. You identify with me. You give me your stamp of approval.

I love the way you are bakers, and homemakers, mommas and campus ministers, musicians, lovers of inner-city children, and foreign workers. And all of you have chosen to live as missionaries exactly where you are. And you remind me that I'm not the only person on this journey.

It has been so long since I've walked into a women's conference and not had to sell myself. Not had to yet again hand out business cards awkwardly and hope for more followers, better networking, more opportunities yet again. When I walked into the room with you? You refreshed my soul. I felt it right away. More love and sacrifice. Less striving and hustle.

As I sat in that room with you Friday night, I wanted every women in the world to feel what I felt in that moment. And it only got better as the weekend went on. We learned from one another. You asked questions of me and I of you. You shared your stories so I would know I was not alone in mine. Your humbleness was amazing to me. And there was a part of me that was so thankful that we were small. Because by the time the weekend was over? You felt like family.

Attendees of The Missional Table breakout all received a copy of Bread and Wine thanks to Shauna Niequist and Zondervan.

So thank you. Thank you all. Who knows what the future holds for us? Will we be the quiet few that faithfully serve and live wherever God has planted us? Will we be a movement of world change? I don't know. But I'm certain of this, you are my people.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Discovering Your Art: Spotlight on Hope Cafe' Originals

It's been quiet around here as the count down for Missional Women Conference has begun and I'm trying to finish so many last minute details. (You can still register to attend here or join the webcast here.) Unless you're new around here you know I've been thinking and writing about art for a while now. This post is the first in a series of interviews with artists that I hope will inspire you to discover and pursue your own art.

Kris Wood is a hope distributor wherever she goes as a friend, retreat speaker, card designer or devotional writer. She and her husband Sam live in Oshkosh WI and they have two married sons that live in the area. Her greeting card business, Hope Cafe Originals, was founded when she was laid off last year and she needed a way to stay focused and productive. Find her daily encouragements on Facebook here or connect with her on Twitter here. (Kris is also a sponsor of the Missional women conference and we're so thankful for her!)


Tell us about your art. 

I've always enjoyed beautiful things, especially in nature. I started with poetry and photography and have now moved toward collage and mixed media and art journaling. It's a treasure hunt to see what God will show me of Himself through art!

What do you love about your art? 

Collage art is so diverse! I love that every card or art piece can be as varying as the seasons and as personal as a whispered love note. Joy and hope go hand in hand as I do my work in making handcrafted cards and frameable art. It is functional as decoration and it is hopeful in declaration. Every piece is prayed over while I work on it...both for the person who buys it and for the person who will receive it. (Kris even prayed over every piece going in the goodie bags for the Missional Women Conference. Amazing!)


How does your art help you connect with the Ultimate Creator? 

O the joyful inspiration of color, shadow and texture! God uses art creation to help me slow down and consider before creating and making. I take to heart all he impresses on me within a season, a scripture, a song so that I can see what he sees. While in a fruitful time with him, come poetic words or classic photos or creative collages. I love that God allows me to be an ally with him in at least three ways: in capturing and expressing beauty, communicating core truths and in encouraging people to hold on to Christ as they take steps to follow Him, moment by moment. I am a simple conduit of the grace and beauty of Jesus in how I serve and love others with art. It's not about creating perfection, but offering all as worship and letting him adapt it to the receivers. Since God often speaks to me in word pictures, I cling to His approval and pleasure as we work together to build up the body of Christ.

How do you implement creativity into your daily life?

I use art as a spiritual discipline and gifts of encouragement.Since I'm a morning person, I get up while the house is quiet and read scriptures while I sip my first cup of coffee. God usually highlights a phrase or a word in the passage and I create a quick piece in collage or photography to share on Facebook or my blog. Now that I've been doing it for a while, I tend to have other morning people watch for the thoughts and picture. It keeps me accountable and focused in seasons where I tend to be flighty. I recently started learning more about art journaling and have joined an online class where I can learn new techniques from others and try different types of supplies. It really takes me out of my comfort zone, but helpful to mix with others who are learners, too.


What advice can you give to other artists about dealing with fear and criticism?

There will always be people who are better at certain techniques than we are. If I focus on that, though, I'll never get started and only feel inferior and insecure. Instead of defining myself by what I can't do (i.e. sketch or paint), I have learned to appreciate the gifts God has given me (encouraging collage). Our culture applauds "knowing", but God affirms learning and growth. So, my advice? Allow yourself to be a learner. If you don't have the pressure to already "know stuff", you're free to explore, building on your strengths and defining your style as you go. The bravest people are often insecure, afraid AND are willing try again or try to do things another way. This is true whether in relationships, work...or art

What else should we know about you or your art?

I love custom orders, as I get to enter into real life milestones. One client knew her son would be proposing to his girlfriend soon. She wrote a poem and asked me to create a card based on this special day and welcome her future daughter-in-law into the family. What an honor! Another client in Alaska had an inside joke she wanted to use for a themed birthday card for her brother in law. Such a joy to be part of such happiness and thoughtful bonding! Even making "general" cards is special because so few people receive "real mail" these days! 


I'm so inspired by Kris an her ability to weave her art into spiritual practice. Be sure to stop by Hope Cafe' Originals on Facebook and join her in being a distributor of hope.