Art Journal: Heart Work

I am so glad summer is here! Time to get out of the classroom and into my paints!

Today’s post is a throwback to an art journal page that received a lot of positive feedback on my Instagram and that I wrote about here. Here’s a process post so you can get an idea of how I work, and so I can think through some new ideas for the summer! Enjoy!

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All of my art journal work happens in my Canson XL Mixed Media Pad which I covered some time ago with this great “Shine” paper.  For this project I turned to a fresh page and covered it with matte Modge Podge.

Then, I wrinkled up some tissue paper that I had received as wrapping paper on a purchase from my favorite Etsy store, By The Well 4 God.

[The shop owner, Lori, always wraps things in great patterned paper, which means I’m always saving pieces for future project!]

I quickly stuck the crumpled tissue paper to the page. Once the tissue paper was spread across the page, I added a bit more Modge Podge with my fingers to make sure it was secure.

I typically work on several pages at once, but this one was pretty wet already so I set it aside to dry, then I used scissors to trim the edges to fit the page when it was ready. What to do next??

I knew I wanted to add some color, and Distress Ink, one of my very first art supplies, is still my go-to for color. I held my journal up at an angle over a towel and swiped a section at the top near the spiral with each of the mini Distress Ink pads. Then I sprayed the ink with my water mist bottle and watched the colors run down the page. [Very satisfying I must add.] I continued to swipe and spray until I had the color saturation I desired and then gently set the journal down to dry again.



I knew I was not finished, but I was a bit stuck with what I wanted to do next. So once again I set it aside until I was inspired by some hearts I was working on for my cardmaking. I got out some computer paper and cut out some hearts of various sizes using the templates I already had lying around. I arranged the hearts on top of the page until I settled on three with a layout I liked. I wanted to make sure each color was represented in the design.

Then I used my black Pitt Big Brush pen to trace the outline of the hearts onto the colored tissue paper. I applied a thick coating of white gesso over the entire page, except the hearts, using my fingers to get into all the creases and crevices the tissue paper had created. Here’s a close up of the gesso around one of the hearts:

The last stage of the project was to decide on a background color that wouldn’t compete with the hearts. I was inspired by DianaColors to try gray. I mixed together the gray acrylic paint I had with a little bit of white and applied it over the gesso with my fingers and a makeup sponge.

I really liked the concrete-like texture the makeup sponge gave me, so I dabbed on more white in a few areas while the gray was still sticky. I also used the edge of a paint card to drag a few lines in the paint to bring out a little of the color beneath the gray. I smeared on just a little black paint on the edges as well.

For the finishing touches, once the page was dry, I outlined the hearts again with my black brush pen to help them pop (and correct my aggressive painting!).  I added a few pieces of Tim Holtz Small Talk that spoke to how I was feeling (for more, see my previous post).

This was a great project to get messy with. I had a lot of fun painting over several days. I think I am going to see what else I can do with Lori’s tissue paper this summer. Maybe canvas next???


Messy Heart Work

“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life,” (Ps. 139:23-24, MSG)

Quite fitting that I’m currently making a mess with gesso crafting hearts. My heart is full of confessing today after 24 hours of physical pain and this morning’s Lent devotional. Lent is for turning, repenting, and part of that is confessing to God the way things are. So the truth of the matter is I’m stubborn and full of doubt.

After the difficult pregnancy that ended in life and death in 2013, I reached a new place in surrendering to God. I experienced His grace and love in a new way and journeyed into new levels of trust…except with my body. I didn’t surrender my physical pain. That was mine. And for two full years I lived with chronic, hidden pain in my leg and back. It was my crutch, my curse, my last and most intimate physical connection to son I had taken on all I could for.

It was in studying His Word and truly listening to His voice last year that I moved from fear and pain into freedom.  And if you’ve been following along I started exercising last year in trusting Him to strengthen my body that had become weakened by pain and the ways I’d over compensated on one side to protect the other. My workouts were going well until growing hurts made it clear I needed physical therapy.

I made progress last fall and saw improvements, but we had much work still to do. And then my insurance company stopped covering the therapy, saying I was “well enough.” Fast forward to a new calendar year this January and a new doctor, and I’ve been back in with a new PT who has been amazing. In two visits I felt better than I’d felt in years, and we’ve been working hard every week to maintain the alignment of my hips and strengthen my core and my leg.

So when I found myself barely able to walk on a sweet date with my honey last night, I was stunned. Not this old pain, it can’t be! But there it was, back with a vengeance.  I was able to sit and dine with my love, but by the end of the night he was helping me into bed, giving me medicine, and praying over me. As my heart cried out for healing, all the lies came rushing back–you deserve this pain, you’ll always be broken, you’re just not good enough. By the time I drifted into a tearful sleep, doubt was winning.

Although it took some convincing, I mostly listened to hubby today and spent the day resting and waiting for my physical therapy appointment. I went in discouraged and limping, from physical pain and spiritual wrestling. I came out feeling better, but it is not until now that I’m back in my space, my war room/creative room and getting my hands messy that I get back to center. That I’m reminded again for the need to repent, to turn, to confess as a way to clean up the messy place of my heart and clear the path back into joy. It is here that I can see my failure to worship in the midst of the pain. My stubbornness. My doubt. It is here that once again I find surrender and healing.

The faith journey is just this, a journey.  Not a quick remedy or an easy fix. But there is much joy in moving forward and pressing on. In knowing you don’t stay in trouble spots as long as you did before. In turning more quickly back to the center, the God of the universe, my God, our Lord and King. So be encouraged in the midst of your pain, your doubts, your fears.  Turn. Confess. Worship. He is with us, ready to guide us on the road to eternal life. 

Week 8: My Shepherd

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –Psalm 23:6

Week 8 featured three more names of God, and each was a Jehovah name that I was not as familiar with in one way or another.

  • Jehovah-Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, the One in whom we can find deliverance when we come to the end of ourselves.
  • Jehovah-Raah, the Lord my Shepherd, the One whose care we need due to our helpless, timid, feeble ways
  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness, the One who can give us a new heart and make us right with God

I have had sheep on the brain a lot this year as I learned about praying the psalms through Psalm 23 earlier this year, and as I recently started the Illustrated Faith Yes and Amen kit, written by a lovely woman of God who loves sheep. So of the sections of this week’s reading, I was drawn to the Lord as my Shepherd once again.

In reflecting on the passages Kay provided from John 10 (v. 1-17, 26-33), I was reminded how much I am indeed a sheep. I definitely do stupid things. I can be fearful, timid, and in need of constant attention and protection. I know I need to follow God’s voice alone, but I don’t always do it. And when I don’t, I get myself into trouble.

But I was so encouraged by these readings to remember that the Good Shepherd loves me and cares for me. My job is simply to believe and follow. I will lack for nothing in His care. He meets the needs of His sheep and keeps us from hunger, from worry, from tension with others, and even keeps pests (pesky thoughts) from taking root in our heart and mind and attempting to destroy us.

He is so good.

I am wrapping up the study as I write this. The final Week 9 focuses on the Lord is there. It is a good way to finish in these troubling times we live in.

How have you seen the Lord’s care this week? Are you leaning in to follow His voice? I pray so.

Week 7: Victory, Holiness, Peace

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner. –Exodus 17:15

If I could redesign this reading plan, I would have focused on just Chapter 11 (Days 29-31) for this week. Perhaps it was because this followed a challenging sermon at church on Israel’s defeat at Ai in Joshua, and I am getting deeper into the Armor of God study, that I was so aware of the battle we are in. I needed this word. I needed to be reminded of both defeat and victory.

To back up for a moment, before I get to Kay, our last week’s sermon walked us through Joshua 6 and 7. We were reminded that God owns everything and that our faith step is stewardship. When we attempt to hold things back from God (which is not bright because He knows everything) and enter into secret sins, we demonstrate that we don’t trust Him to take care of us. And we ignore that our sins have consequences.  As our pastor said, “when we take legitimate things and use them in an illegitimate way, we are walking in unbelief.”

What a humbling message. And it went further. Although Joshua and the people had achieved great victory at Jericho, they were defeated by the little town of Ai because of Achan’s sin in the camp. As the message said, “without God’s presence, any little thing can defeat us.” Talk about a punch to the gut. How many times do I get discouraged and defeated by the little things? Too often. Why do I walk away from God thinking, this is not big God, I can handle it by myself?? WRONG.

The message didn’t end on a downer. We were encouraged to remember to get on our face before God and humbly seek Him. To confess and make restitution. To receive God’s forgiveness and grace. Thank the Lord for the blood of Christ and grace!

Coming into this week of study, I asked the Lord to examine my heart and get the gunk out. Boy, did He. Not a pleasant process. But it was needed. This week of the study highlighted that one of our first enemies as Christians is our flesh. This flesh is no good (Romans 7:18). As Kay writes, it is our first and constant enemy (p. 107). Therefore we have to be on constant alert. “The flesh must constantly be put to death. It can’t be tolerated, catered to, or spared in any way. If it is, it will devastate you” (p. 108). If we try to fight this battle alone, we will lose.


But GOD. We are thankfully not alone in this fight. The little things that wanted to knock me out this week didn’t. Not because I am special or particularly brave–in fact I can be quite slow to get in the fight. But because our God is mighty. Because after I see my weakness and rely on Him, I find rescue. I love when Kay writes, “It is the Lord’s battle; victory depends on His rod being lifted up….But you, O valiant warrior, are to put on the full armor of God and get on the battlefront. Under His banner, victory is always assured” (p. 112).

Praise be to God that He has the ultimate victory. I am clinging to my Jehovah-Nissi this week. I am trusting in Him.

Where have you been in the Word, in the study this week? Who is God showing Himself to be in your life? I hope you will trust Him. He is strong and mighty!

I can’t believe this is almost at the end. This week takes on three more chapters:

Week 8 (July 25-31) The Lord of Hosts
The Lord My Shepherd
The Lord Our Righteousness
Day 34
Days 35-36
Days 37-38

I hope you have had a chance to peek in the study and have been encouraged by knowing more about our great God!

Week 5: God Heals

Our wounds are great. As sin ravaged Christ’s body at Calvary, so it has ravaged men, women, and children throughout the ages. –Kay Arthur, Lord, I Want to Know You (p. 71)

I started this week with news of 100s being killed in Baghdad. Many children in that number. I continued the week bearing the sorrow of  Black men being slayed at point blank range by police officers. As I prayed, unplugged, loved, prayed more, carried on, I was grieved by the death of police officers just one state over at the hands of an evil man. I grieved the precedent set by his death without a trial as well. And every day it seems there is evidence of more wounds. Unarmed Latino men, White men, killed by police without trial. Racist words spewed all over the internet. Police officers and their families dealing with threats and abuse.

Over and over I have found myself praying Kay’s words.

Our wounds are great.

Our wounds are great.

Our wounds are great.

But you O God–you can heal even this.

There could not have been a more important week for me to read about Jehovah-Rapha, our healer. The Lord who heals is a powerful physician. This week was thick with verses to show that God is ready and able to heal all things. All things.

imageThis has been a throw your hands up week for many people. A drop to your knees week for many people. Look up my friends, look to our healing God. Every passage in this chapter was a reminder that God can heal all things: physical ailments, terminal illnesses, our sin sick hearts, our emotionally wounded lives, our distracted and wayward minds
—>EVERYTHING. He is able to restore and heal beyond what we can imagine. He calls us to examine the sin in our lives first, but as the verses demonstrated, not all illness/hurt is connected to your sin, your family sin, or the sin of the world. Sometimes we need to see His healing take place so we can see Him.

There is no question we are in a moment where we need to examine corporately and individually our sins. Our selfishness, our greed, our racism, our rebellion, our hate, etc. But the reassurance is that if we give those things to Him and turn, He can heal.

I probably would recommend you get this study just for this week alone. I have enjoyed every week, but the truth and the challenge here is so good and so timely.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise! Jeremiah 17:14


It is hard for me to believe this study is more than halfway complete. This week, Week 6, is just three days; it is designed to be a moment to pause and review. So if you are studying along or want to jump in, this is a nice moment to catch up, review, or sketch out a plan for your work in the book.

Week 6 (July 11-17) Pausing for a Moment Days 26-28

What have you been learning about the character of God this summer? How has knowing His names helped you through this past week of tragedy?

Week 4: God Provides

And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. –Phil. 4:19

Summer school got the best of me during Week 4. I was able to stay with my plan, but finding extra time to blog did not happen in the midst of final grading. Praise the Lord, that part of my work this summer is done–or so I thought. I was planning on a nice, restful, and creative July, but my Jehovah-Jireh had other plans!

What I learned in Week 4 as we studied the name Jehovah and Jehovah-Jireh, is that I had a limited understanding of this name. I always think of various worship songs when I hear this name of the Lord and equate Jehovah-Jireh with “my provider.” This is true but what I didn’t know was that jireh literally means “to see.” Our Jehovah-Jireh sees ALL of our needs. This week of the study made me so grateful for God’s presence outside of time — imageHe provides because He has already seen our needs. He knew and knows. What we cannot provide for ourselves, He has already provided. I am so grateful that He had already put a plan in for our salvation before we knew that was our greatest need. So grateful that He has already seen to the needs I will have in the months and weeks to come. What a challenge to not worry!

This summer, my husband and I were facing our lowest income summer. As professors, we are only paid 9 months out of the year. We save what we can, but Uncle Sam and Dr. Sam take out a healthy chunk when you get 12 months of pay in 9 months. So we generally supplement
our income with summer teaching to avoid depleting our savings. Well, this summer, my husband’s normal teaching was cut this year, and we were bracing ourselves for the bare minimum. But in more ways than I can list, God already had things lined up for our summer that were not on our radar. I wanted to be “off” this July, but He opened a door for me to work from home! My husband has received several new opportunities that do not involve teaching at all. God also sent a friend to invite me to be a part of the Armor of God study. I had been wanting to do this study for a while but missed the one that I could have done in June. Now I know, I did not miss it–He had a July study waiting for me. I just didn’t know about it. He foresaw the need and made a way.

Are you grateful for your Jehovah-Jireh today who sees to your needs? Doesn’t that just fill your heart with comfort and security?!

More on Week 5 over here!

Week 3: The Lord

I said to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord [Adonai]; I have no good besides Thee.
Psalm 16:2

The God Who Sees.
The All-Sufficient One.
The Lord.

As I worked through these three chapters I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God and also challenged by the obedience and humility knowing Him encourages.

To review, the first portion of Week 3 focused on El Roi, the God who sees. This name, from Genesis 16, reminds us of the omnipresence of God. Even in our most troubling circumstances, He is there. Reviewing Hagar’s story reminded me of times of abuse, loss, and sadness in my life which could have left me in despair or feeling alone in the wilderness. But in each of those moments–by prayer, by friends, by His Word–I was always aware that God was there. Even if He did not respond when or how I had hoped, He was there. Knowing God as my El Roi motivates me to remain obedient in hard times, encourages me to be free from worry, and changes my position to expectation for His plan rather than focusing on my pain.

Meditating on God as El Roi led seamlessly into the next reading on El Shaddai. Of course, as Kay alluded to, I could not even read this name without thinking about the 80’s song and hearing it in my head! Reading more on His name as God Almighty, has catapulted this to the top of my list of favorites. Kay writes: “When I have run to my El Shaddai, I have never come away wanting. He is my all-sufficient One” (36). In His might, He protects me. He takes care of me. In His power, He is able to fill me and meet the needs of my heart as no one else can. For me, El Shaddai is my reminder of how He satisfies. imageOne of my first attempts at Bible journaling this year began after praying through Psalm 90. I have truly found this year in a new way that He will indeed satisfy. El Shaddai.

This week’s readings ended with a challenge from Kay: “Before you can ever really know God as El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, I believe you must bow before Him as Adonai, your Lord and Master” (41). Through a series of passages, Kay makes the case that commitment to the will of God should be central to being a Christian. This is NOT to say we have to work our way into being in relationship with God, but acknowledging Him as Lord moves us to submit to His plan–to be totally dependent on Him. We are His servants, which means, where He sends, we go. When He speaks, we listen. When we see His greatness and His power, our response is one of thanksgiving and praise. Recognizing He is Lord over all and in charge means that I am not. If I am honest, in my independence, in my pride, in my “I can do it” only-childness, this is not easy. Humble obedience to His lordship requires daily (minute-ly) submission. Daily surrender. From the moment my feet hit the floor, as the dear Amy Bruce writes, my mouth should open to praise Him and ask, “Okay Lord, what do You want to do today? Speak to me Lord, Adonai.

I am still creating my way through this week while beginning Week 4 on Jehovah. So much good stuff here to get down! Here is how Week 4 is shaping up:

Week 4 (June 27-July 3) The Self-Existent One
The Lord Will Provide
Day 15
Days 16-19

Are you reading along? What are you learning? How is God revealing His character to you in the circumstances you are facing?