Friday, February 27, 2015

Anatomy of a Bible art journal page

2015-02-27 19.12.41A lot of people ask me about my art journaling practice, especially as it relates to my Bible reading. I’ve always been the sort of person who likes to write in my Bible. I like to highlight passages that mean a lot to me, and I like to write notes in the margins. However, when I discovered art journaling, I found that I had a new avenue for worshipping God.

Have you ever read something in your Bible that made you so thankful to God? Something that made you want to worship God in a deeper way? Art journaling gives me the ability to have that deeper worship.

When I read something impactful in my Bible, I love being able to respond in a creative way. More importantly, I love being able to have that worship written right in my Bible. It’s a wonderful experience to thumb through my Bible and remember all the beautiful moments I’ve shared with God. Having the colors and images pop out at me bring back the experience in much fuller detail than if I’d simply underlined a passage. More importantly, the time I take to create the art in my Bible has me meditating on that piece of Scripture longer. Rather than highlighting and moving on, I spend a lot more time, doodling and soaking it in.

As an example of how my process works, I’m going to take you through the creation of one of my pages. I have a daily reading plan (which, in all fairness, does not always happen daily!) and I try to follow it as best as I can. The day I created this page, my reading was Psalm 136.

One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is, “give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” It’s mentioned several times in the Bible, and I even have a little tune I mentally sing this phrase to, because it’s such a beautiful reminder of God’s love. As I read this Psalm, even though I have probably read it dozens of times, I realized that every other line was my favorite phrase. With one exception. The word “steadfast” is added.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that addition to the phrase. To me, steadfast love is a much more powerful image than plain old love. I ended up highlighting the entire Psalm. When I have something that hits me that powerfully, that’s when I pull out my colorful pens and journal. I go through different phases with my Bible art journal, and I love word art. I wrote the phrase I loved and made it pretty and colorful.

Then, because the word “steadfast” was so important to me in this time, I looked it up, and I wrote definitions of it in the margin. I thought about each definition and how it fit God’s love. Finally, at the bottom, I wrote two summaries of what that time had meant to me. What I wanted to remember.

Don’t take this as a “this is how you should always do it” bible art journal guide. Each entry in my Bible has a different component, or a different order. Sometimes, I skip the full reading plan, because just one verse sticks out to me in a powerful way. What remains the same and consistent through each one, is that it was done in response when I felt a particular reading speak to me. My art journaling Bible isn’t perfect. You’ll find mistakes, splotches, smudges, and other weird things. But I think it’s beautiful to God, who sees my response to him and loves it.

If you’re thinking about trying art journaling, or even putting some art in your Bible, I highly encourage you to do so.

It’s really wonderful to have these mementos of my time with God. You can purchase a journaling Bible or a notetaking Bible so you have more room to make art than you would with a regular Bible. I use the ESV journaling Bible by Crossway. Pen-wise, for this page, I used some glitter gel pens from the Write Dudes. Basically, the ones you get at Target. Nothing fancy you have to buy at an art supply store. I also used a regular pen for the rest. Other pages, I’ve used colored pencils, watercolors, and Sharpies (which bleed).

Do you art journal in your Bible? What tools do you use? I’d love to hear about your process. And if you don’t art journal in your Bible, but want to try it, let me know that too!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Owning your value as a writer

You are SO valuable!I've had a couple of conversations lately and I wanted to share the gist of them, because I'm seeing a trend in a lot of friends, especially writers, and it bothers me. We are not seeing and claiming our value! As writers, what we do is so valuable. Think about the books that have changed your life. Most people, especially readers can name a book that impacted their lives. What price do you put on that?

You might say, "well, Danica, I'm not a Hemingway, or Dickens, or whoever, and therefore, I'm not in that category." And you know what I say to that? BALONEY. Actually, I'd use a stronger word here, but I might get in trouble with the internet police, so I won't. :) You don't have to be great to be valuable. You just have to be you.

The trouble with owning your value is that it's scary to step out there and do it.

Yesterday, I talked to a friend who said that she was afraid of sounding too prideful or getting too big of a head if she started sharing all the reasons why she was valuable. And I understand that. We've all met the jerks who think too much of themselves. In fact, this friend and I have a pact that if we ever turn into writing super stars, we will keep each other in check to not become jerks. But there is a difference between saying I am a great writer and what I do is valuable, and saying, I'm too cool for you because I'm a great writer.

God gave us each these fabulous talents and abilities. So when we downplay them and say that we're not as awesome as God made us to be because we're afraid of people thinking our heads are too big, we're denying God. We're not letting God's gifts shine through us. We've dimmed the light, and frankly, I think that's offensive to God. He gave us our gifts and talents to USE them.

How do you start owning your value?

First of all, recognize it! Have you thought of all the ways that you are valuable? The things that make you valuable? Seriously. Take a minute and write a few down. I'll give you a few examples.
1. I am a great encourager.
2. My friends know that I will tell them the truth, even if it's uncomfortable.
3. I have a variety of life experiences to draw upon.
4. I'm a good writer.
5. People like my books.
6. I am a good mother.
7. I love chickens!!
8. I seek to understand other points of view.
9. I love to try new things and have new experiences.
10. I am persistent.

Now think about the kind of person who is all of those things. Put in your head what kind of person that is. That's a pretty awesome person, right? And guess what? That person is ME!! Your list of all of your awesome things? That's YOU!!

What does this have to do with owning your value as a writer?

Everything. If you aren't owning your personal value, then you can't own who you are as a writer. All of those wonderful things about me? I bring that to my writing. I have those gifts that add value to the words I write. Are my words autobiographical? No. But they are flavored with those beautiful and not so beautiful things about me. And yes, I do believe the ugly things, our scars, our flaws, those add value too. But too often we focus on the negative and the reasons why we can't, and we don't see the wonderful things we bring to the table with our writing.

The friend I spoke with the other day, she is a fantastic writer. People love her books. But she's had a lot of things happen lately that have discouraged her and she's feeling not so valuable. She's afraid to put herself out there and shine. What if the negatives are right? What if she's being too bold in saying that she is a great writer? What if she's not as great as she thinks she might be?

All of those things are lies. She, like so many of us, get trapped into believing them because we're conditioned to think that way instead of owning our value. I'm not saying any of this to pick on her, by the way. I'm just as guilty, and perhaps that's why I can recognize it in her. I've been there.

Why does owning your value matter so much?

When you don't have confidence in your value, it shows. Who wants to have a surgeon with a shaky hand perform surgery on them? But that's exactly what you're doing when you fail to claim your value and stand securely in it.

Being valuable doesn't mean being perfect. I can say I'm a good mom and be confident in that, but also know that I am not a perfect mom. I got a little competitive playing on the Wii with my daughter yesterday and a swear word popped out. Oops! That one mistake doesn't negate the fact that I'm doing a great job raising my kids. And guess what? I admitted my mistake, apologized to them, and turned it into a teaching moment to demonstrate that I am not a perfect mom, but I am a mom willing to acknowledge my shortcomings. My mistake helped build character in my kids. That's valuable.

On the writing side, if I sit at my computer, filled with fear and insecurity, it shows in my writing. If I'm second-guessing myself because I have no confidence in myself and my abilities,  I make mistakes that I wouldn't have made otherwise. Last night, if I'd spent the time beating myself up for that swear word, I wouldn't have had the precious giggle and snuggle with my girls. When we fail to acknowledge our value as writers, we're locking up the beautiful moments like giggles and snuggles, and keeping them off the page, and out of the hands of readers who could be blessed by it.

Take some time today and think about the things that make you valuable! I'd love for you to post some of the items on your list, and if you're brave enough to share, I'll tell you something I see in you that's valuable!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Booksigning! Meet Danica!

Hi Everyone! Still busy with the house situation. Our house will be on the market tomorrow! But what I want to share is that Saturday, I have a booksigning.

Would love to see you there!

Rocky Mountain Dreams booksigning


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When a door closes on your dreams

2015-01-27 14.19.49I've been working hard to make the dream home I found at the end of last year a reality. Unfortunately, we received bad news. We were outbid on the house we wanted. To say I was heartbroken to come so close to my dreams, only to have it fall apart was an understatement. It was pretty devastating. Even my husband, who is not known for his demonstration of emotion, was crushed. I remember sitting here, sobbing, crying the big fat ugly tears that make your face swell, your eyes hurt, and your nose too stuffed up to breathe.

I poured out my heart in my journal, and one of the lines I wrote really sticks with me. "I feel like Jacob, working so hard for Rachel, only to be presented with Leah. My faith is so small right now- I want to believe and trust, and honestly, I don't know how."

Betrayed. That's how I imagine Jacob must have felt, and that is how I felt. If you don't know the story, it's found in Genesis 29:16-30. Basically, Jacob fell in love with Rachel, worked seven years to get her, and instead, was given Leah, a woman he did not love. He had to work another seven years to get Rachel. It doesn't really say what Jacob went through in terms of his anger and betrayal, but it's easy to imagine how hard it would have been to be so close to the woman of your dreams only to have it ripped away.

And there I was, so close to the house of my dreams, and we got outbid, and frankly, the whole thing was just kind of stupid, the way it was with Jacob being forced to marry Leah on a technicality. Yes, I realize that a house and a wife are not necessarily the equivalent, but for us, this is something we've wanted since we met. We've dreamed of this for seventeen years, and it all seemed so perfect. We had so many miracles leading up to this point that it made no sense that the door shut when it did. I can imagine Jacob felt the same way- he was there, at the finish line, and WHAM! The door closed.

People told me things like, "God has something better," and honestly, in the midst of my grief, I wanted to smack them. We've waited SEVENTEEN YEARS for an opportunity like this, and haven't seen anything come even close. There hasn't been anything better in that time. It reminded me of all the things I've waited for that never came. That will never come. Every piece of grief that I thought had been healed opened up again, and I just wanted to know why. Why, when I was doing all the right things, did this, too, have to be taken from me?

But see, there is another piece to Jacob's story. He got over the betrayal, and he worked another seven years, and he got to marry Rachel. I read a bunch of articles and things speculating on why Jacob had to do the Leah/Rachel thing. Why it couldn't have been simpler? We really don't know, and we won't know until we meet God face to face. Sometimes you get to know why, and sometimes you don't. Will I know we why lost that house? Maybe. Is there another, more wonderful, house waiting for us? Maybe. I'd like to think so.

So here I am, the grief over my house loss subsided, and a new plan in place. We are selling our house, a house I love, because our dreams are bigger than staying where we are. Currently, there are no houses out there in our price range that even come close to being what we want. But I'm choosing to step out in faith that when the time comes, there will be a house for us. My daughter asked me what happens if there isn't. I told her we'd live in my van. Which would be weird, considering we have a dog and three chickens, and I'm seriously anti-poop in regards to my living conditions. But I'm choosing to believe that we'll be okay.

I went for a walk at a nature preserve yesterday with my friend Kay, and I took a great photo of the sun through the trees. Only when I looked at the photo after, I saw these fun blue and red spots in my picture. I don't know what they are, but I felt so much peace sitting there, that to me, those were my confirmation that everything is going to be okay.

What do you do when a door closes on your dreams?

I think it's okay, and even necessary, to take the time to grieve. But then you have to figure out a way to move on. To know that there is something good waiting for you, even if you can't see it. You have to find the strength and courage to go forward, even if your faith is so small. Even when you don't know how. I have no idea where this journey is taking us, and yes, I'm scared. But I suppose, if we had all the answers, there'd be no reason to have faith.

Have you had a door close on your dreams? What did you do? And if you're like me, blindly stepping out on faith, let me know how I can encourage you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letting God in on your dreams

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI just got done taking a bath and reading a book. This may well be the first book I've actually read this year. Sometimes I get so single minded in pursuing my dreams that I have a tendency to forget to slow down and take time for me. Yes, I have a lot of work to do before our house hits the market on Thursday. But I also have to remember that part of pursuing a dream is also allowing God the grace to move and act in that space as well. Which means slowing down, spending some quiet time and nurturing yourself. If I trust God, this house thing will still happen without me killing myself with overwork.

The past three weeks have been nonstop- getting up earlier than usual, doing my regular job, then performing a lot more physical labor than this body is used to until I finally fall into bed. Some nights, I toss and turn worrying over everything I still have to do. One night, I even got out of bed at midnight and worked for two hours on a project that was bothering me. And yes, in the midst of this, I turned in some book ideas to my editor.

If you think it's crazy, it is. But that's me when I'm consumed with something important to me. And this afternoon, as I was listening to a devotional on audio in my car, I realized that all-consuming passion leaves no room for God.

If a dream really is of God, then you have to give him room to work.

I think it's a tough balance- on one hand, I do believe you have to do the work to make your dreams come true. I don't believe God is a magical fairy who goes around with his wand to make things happen. But I also know that God does want to be involved in your dreams. I think he wants to be able to work miracles in your plans. If you're too busy working and not taking the time to notice, you might miss the miracles that happen along the way.

We do not have the house yet. Our house goes on the market next week, then we will get the other house. So far, I've counted at least ten things that have been miraculous in this situation. TEN! And probably dozens more prayers answered. So why am I killing myself to make this happen?

Over the next few days, I have a lot more work to do. And I'll get it done. But after my relaxing evening in the bath, realizing how much I've failed to take care of myself, I'm going to be more mindful of the fact that part of pursuing your dreams is taking time to enjoy the journey.

Monday, January 05, 2015

My Dream Home... Maybe!

my books getting ready for my dream homeWhen I sat down to do my 2015 goal planning and dreaming, an unexpected event interrupted my plans. I found a listing for my almost dream home. I say almost, because the house itself is a bit of a fixer upper. Um, okay, it's A LOT of a fixer upper. :) But the location (and view!) is amazing!

The catch is, we have to sell our house first. And that house still has to be available when our house sells. But hey, those are all minor details and we are acting on faith that it's going to happen!

You don't get your dream home sitting around doing nothing.

In order to sell our house, we need to get a lot of stuff cleared out and in storage. Namely, my books and hubby's man junk. I don't know what it is, and I don't want to know. :) What I do know is that all of this is going to take a lot of work, packing, painting, and all that. And that's just to get the house sold! Our goal is to have our house on the market by the end of the week. Crazy, but hey... I'm hoping that my current house is someone else's dream home.

A funny thing happened as I started packing my books. I found ONE copy of my book, Rocky Mountain Dreams, that has no home. So... I'm giving it away.

Tell me your moving tips, and I'll choose a winner from everyone who shares.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Thanksgiving Art Journal Challenge Day 31

December Thanksgiving art journal challenge day 31We did it!! Thirty one days of getting our art journal on! I am having a celebration over here, let me tell you! I have really needed this creative jumpstart in my life, and I'm SO THANKFUL that I did this challenge. Having a creative outlet gives me a way of dealing with all the crazy in my world, and trust me, it has been CRA-ZY. Add on being thankful, and you know, it's been a pretty great month.

I hope this has given you a taste of what both art journaling and a little gratitude can do for you. Or maybe you haven't yet tried it, but it's given you a taste of what it's done for me. Seriously, I usually spend this time of year in a fetal position wondering why my life is so insane. I'd show you my last year's art journal proving it, but guess what? I tend to skip that activity when times get tough. Wrong answer.

When life is at its most crazy, that is when you most need to take time to slow down, and do something like art journal.

We always have the excuse of being too busy or not having time, but the truth is, without something to give us pause or rest, it's never going to get better. We wait for the perfect moment, or when things slow down, and I'm finding that it never happens. Every stage at which I think my life will get better or easier, it turns out that the old crazy just turns into a new crazy. Make the time now.

If you didn't start the art journal challenge on day one, that's okay. Go back and do it. Start wherever you are, wherever you want. As I said in the introduction, I purposely chose the notecards to make it easy and do-able. You saw how some of my entries were hasty and scribbled. Some took more time. But all of them gave me a much-needed injection of sanity in my otherwise crazy life.

If you've been with me this whole time, congratulations!! You made a great start on an art journal. Now you have 19 more pages to fill with stuff. A cover to decorate. The possibilities are endless, so make the most of them! Fill up that book!

I don't have a clever transition, and as I've said before, it happens, and that's okay. If you've learned anything from reading these blogs, you'll know that my space is a very grace-filled space, and I'm sharing it with you.

Today's art journal challenge is: Your favorite moment of the past year

Here is my journal entry:
"I am so thankful for this year! 2014 was such a magical year for me. So many wonderful things happened, and a lot of my dreams came true. But I will pick a moment- holding my first book. I've worked so hard and waiting so long, it was a thrill. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Can you pick a favorite moment this past year to be thankful for?


I'd love for you to share your art journal masterpieces. You can either post them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #DecemberThanksgiving, or feel free to email me if you want to keep it private.

And, if you'd like to receive a PDF with all the art journal challenges for this month, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter!

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