Art Therapy, Bright Side, Gratitude, Grief, Growth in Trials, Healing, Kintsugi Art, Trials, Trust

HEALING THE CRACKS IN OUR LIVES – A KINTSUGI PROJECT

KINTSUGI FILTERED POWER POINT

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

For nine months,  I’ve been walking through a renewing of the mind process through Dr. Caroline Leaf’s program, 21 Days to Detox Your Brain using her Switch phone app and other resources. I began this as, like all of us, there are many areas in my life that need work, some that I decided were long overdue for a transformation. From insecurities and bad habits to grief, loss and transitions in life, I have had great victories in my life through this program. https://drleaf.com/

“Frame your world with your words.” ~ Caroline Leaf, Who Switched Off My Brain?

You’ve probably heard one of these phrases “re-frame your life,” “re-image your pain,” or the ever popular “make lemonade out of lemons.” In her writing and work, Dr. Leaf refers to this as re-conceptualizing your past, toxic thoughts, stress, conflict or pain. For one example she uses the image of a beautiful art form, Kintsugi Art. Japanese Kintsugi Art is the art of repairing pottery with lacquer that has been mixed with gold, silver or platinum powder. The word, Kintsugi, literally means “to mend with gold”.

In the Switch app Dr. Leaf encourages us to see our stories, good and bad, with a welcoming heart and honor respecting all aspects of who we are. Because of some past regrets, scars and pain in my life still dragging me down, I quickly latched on to this new idea.  I find great healing in writing and even deeper healing in art therapy, so I decided to step into this process through my own Kintsugi vase repair project on paper.

Dr. Leaf’s comparison of Kintsugi art to our humanity prepared my mind for this project. She explained each vase or bowl has a history that needs to be honored rather than thrown away. Creative repair treats the cracks as part of the life of the vase rather than a wound to disguise.  So, all our personal stories, good and bad, have shaped us and need to be respected as well. Emphasizing that our story is worthy of honor we thus welcome the process of being human. She goes on to add an idea that really hit it for me: We experience lasting healing when we acknowledge our full story because it keeps us from staying in bondage to the negativity of our past. Anxious to see the gold healing in my past, I gathered my thoughts and art supplies on hand to set out on my new adventure.

Below are the practical steps I took in my Kintsugi art therapy project. Not a potter, I used my modest drawing and painting skills. Each step took me a month or so as I needed time to meditate on the whole process. Now four months later, I am still processing but feel ready to share 😊.

In our rush to fix our problems,
we neglect to allow space and time for our wounds to teach us.
~ Richard Rohr

STEP 1: WRITE/SKETCH

I knew I needed to first sketch the details of my life and toxic thoughts I’d been working on in the last few months. I drew a vase, made cracks with the abbreviated pain or toxic thought underneath the line with the re-framed picture of that pain on top of the line.

kintsugi sketch image

 HOPE, GRACE-FILLED CHURCH,REDEEMED FAMILY/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY 
COMFORT, HOPE OF HEAVEN/LOSS, GRIEF 
GOD IS WRITING THEIR STORY LIKE HE DID MINE/ WORRY ABOUT ADULT CHILDREN & HUSBAND
GOD’S APPROVAL/REJECTION, PEOPLE PLEASER
FORGIVENESS/SHAME GUILT
GRATITUDE/DISCONTENTMENT
COMMUNICATION/FEAR OF CONFLICT
TRUST GOD, STEWARDSHIP/FINANCES & HEALTH

Step 2: Draw Another Vase and Paint it Using Acrylics on a Paint-Friendly Board or Canvas

I then drew out three vases on watercolor board. Three, because I’m a perfectionist and wanted to make sure I had three chances in case I messed up. (Watercolor board because that’s what was handy). Using acrylic paint, I painted my vases then chose the one I liked best to work with further.

1st kintsugi vase no cracks_20190828_175343(1)This original vase represents what I was intended for when God created me. As I painted, I meditated on the gifts God gave me, my strengths, my passions and I thanked him for all the blessings He has poured into my life. I added shadows knowing from the moment He created me, He was aware of the pain I would experience in my life. This took about three days to add layers of light and shadow.

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

cropped 2nd kintsugi vase with cracks no gold20190828_181845Step 3: Draw Cracks with Fine Sharpie

After the paint was fully dried, I added cracks, meditating on the pain and imperfections, surrendering those that still needed to be relinquished. As I added each crack, I dealt with the pain again, making sure I was honest about each toxic thought or loss. As Dr. Leaf encourages, each time we speak out a toxic thought, it begins to die.

You cannot heal what you cannot acknowledge. ~ Richard Rohr

 

Step 4: Cover the Cracks with Gold Paint Sharpies

I was extremely nervous for this next step. I found it interesting that my insecurities were coming up even in my painting. Finally, I just had to take the dive and do it. It was freeing after the first line and, soon, I began to truly enjoy the whole process as I meditated and expounded on the re-framed visions of my toxic thoughts and beliefs.

  • I thanked God He had redeemed my dysfunctional original family. I thanked Him for each of those family members and the blessing they are to me.
  • I thanked God that He had provided such a great support to me in my grief through His Word, worship, others and His Spirit in the loss of our son plus preparing me my whole life to trust Him in that pain.
  • Daily, I need to trust our Creator and not worry about my husband and children, in the fallout of losing a child/sibling, because God is writing their stories just like He is writing mine. He loves them more than I do.
  • The ultimate approval I need is God’s. I need not worry about what others think if I am loving God with my whole heart and loving others as myself.
  • Through the cross I am fully forgiven and need not carry shame for anything. Though others may not think highly of me, my God delights in me and died for me on the cross even when I was a sinner.
  • I am grateful for so much I don’t need to be discontented.
  • I need not fear conflict or stress because communication brings growth in myself and in my relationships and stress strengthens us when we see it as a gift.
  • I need not fear pain, illness or financial instability when I’m accountable and am a good steward of my body and finances because God delights in me and will provide all I need to live an abundant life.

original_prepared_photo

Seeing the beautiful gold highlights in my once, plain and cracked vase, revealed at a deeper level how beautiful the healing is in my life. It reminded my heart, He is bigger than all the cracks and attacks in my life. Without them, His golden glory would not be so evident in my life.

Step 4: Looking Through Other Filters

This summer, my husband, Gary, introduced me to a camera phone app filter, Prisma, which is so much fun. This took me to another level of contentment and creativity in this project. The filter adds different colors, highlights and twists in the graphics. After taking photos of my paintings, experimenting with the filters started me thinking about all the seasons of life. Each moment in life has different reflections of light, people, weather, pain, spiritual growth, geography and, the list goes on. Once again, our all-sovereign all-powerful Creator makes a new moment with a unique vision of our lives and how many ways He shines that love on our lives.

KINTSUGI FILTERED 6 BLOCK

Final Encouragement to You: 

I encourage you to at least sketch out the cracks in your life and begin to re-frame those cracks. Maybe some of you really adventurous artists may want to take a broken pot or throw one to fire for this project for your life. Whether you sketch, paint or draw, I pray healing will come and God will be glorified in your honored story.

John 16:33 (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

Healing, Hope, joy, Psalm 30:5, Uncategorized

Surprised by Laughter and Deep Joy

Psalm 30:5b (Good News Translation)

Tears may flow in the night,
    but joy comes in the morning.

When you lose a child, happiness is hard to find. You practice joy and fun for years, hoping one day it will come naturally. You focus on your hope of Heaven and look for God’s fingerprints in your tragedy. Each year it becomes a little easier, yet you forget what a truly good belly laugh really feels like. Then one day, you are surprised by joy and it takes your breath away.

Tonight was one of those brief powerful kisses-from-God-moments for me. First, I was listening to our firstborn talk about his seven-year-old daughter and the joy in her precocious observations of life. I felt a sudden burst of emotions of joy mixed with awe and pride over what a wonderful dad Shawn is. I had to ask him to scoot over and sit next to me so I could hug him and just tell him how proud I am of what an amazing dad he is.

A few minutes later, Bethany showed me a “princess post” on Facebook comparing Disney princesses to what we really would be like if we were that princess as real humans. Suddenly, I saw myself in those truly human versions of princesses and was overtaken with such deep humor, giggling and joy that I couldn’t stop laughing and my belly hurt and is still hurting now, an hour later.

God promises in this Psalm that weeping will last for a time, but joy is on its way. I wasn’t looking for joy tonight, yet it showed up, (maybe with a little help from caffeine).

Princess Photos with Belly Laugh Videos Bethany Took in the Comments

Grief, Healing, Hope, joy, Uncategorized

A Time to Be Human: Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together Part 2

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)

 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

In Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together,

I was heavy on joy, light on sorrow.

This week is heavy on sorrow, light on joy.

Feeling very human…so many emotions…

February 7th – Our very close friends’ daughter, Jesse, died – a time to weep…

February 8th – My wonderful dad’s 87th Birthday – a time to smile…

February 8th – The highlight of Josie’s year –a time for the Daddy Daughter Dance…

February 9th – Celebrate the life of friends’ son, Mike – a time to mourn…

February 10th – Celebrate the birth of our beautiful daughter Bethany – a time to smile…

February 10th – Anniversary of the passing of precious friend Andy – a time to mourn…

Life goes on for some, drags for others, redeemed for many, renewed in Heaven for others.

Time will bring more healing…heavy on the joy again…

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

 

Children's Music, Cole Valley Christian Music, Frank and Betsy Hernandez Music, Pastor Timothy Keller, The Gospel Coalition, The New City Catechism

Proud of My Students – Thankful I Could Be a Part of Such an Amazing Project

Over the last 10 years, I have had the privilege of collaborating with the very humble and talented Dove Award Winning couple, Frank and Betsy Hernandez.

(See their website for the many albums and stories you, your children and siblings have probably heard throughout the last 30 years). His and Hernandez Music

NEW CITY CATECHISM 1

Many of my students have been asked to sing on their albums over the years. The latest project they worked on is probably one of their very best: New City Catechism from Timothy Keller’s Gospel Coalition, which includes 52 songs, one for each point in the Catechism. Each song is catchy, worshipful and up to date for today’s children. The greatest deal is that THEY ARE FREE! You can download them and the music for your family, school or church. Final Installment: Songs from the New City Catechism

I was blessed to be asked to help with vocal production during the last recording sessions and had the time of my life. I am listed in the credits but didn’t deserve it 😊. It was just a ton of fun. My very patient students and I learned a lot about how albums are made. The  time it takes to record just one line, over and over, will make you appreciate recorded music every time you listen! The album I worked on is Songs from the New City Catechism 4

Frank and Betsy and I are collaborating on our Christmas program this year as we are each doing our own version of the same musical, sharing a stage and ideas. Thank you, Betsy and Frank, for blessing me and our students and for allowing this amateur to be a part of God working through your gifts and lives!

Full New City Catechism information: The New City Catechism

 

Uncategorized

Redeemed Joy

20180630_164319

This will be a short post to follow up from my last post, Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together. Brief because after praying for a positive ending to my book, God provided that very clearly on June 30th, in our backyard wedding where we celebrated the marriage of Taylor’s best friend to Bethany’s best friend, with my amazing husband officiating.

Between our nephew’s wedding, this back yard wedding, and other family gatherings, God kissed our hearts to sweetly to redeem our joy, but I don’t want to spoil it for any readers of my book (which probably won’t be all published and ready until next spring).

Suffice it to say for now, God poured blessings over us abundantly.

Here is a little video I put together from our family phone cameras. Wedding Video of Jamison and Emily

Faith, Grief, Healing, Hope, joy, Romans 12:5

Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together

Many people ask me how it feels to have Taylor’s wife, Michelle, and friends moving on in life, marrying and having children. The answer to that is very complicated to understand and explain but I’ll try with this oxymoronic truth: In Jesus, sorrow and joy can dance together.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Somewhere back as a little girl at church, I learned this and believe God knew one day I would need this verse impressed deeply in my heart. As I went through life, I tended to deeply feel the sorrow of others and like most, found it easy to enter into joy with others.

When Michelle, started dating one of Taylor’s best friends, Paul, this verse was again immediately impressed upon my heart. When they were engaged, we came together and all agreed to honor Michelle’s first marriage to Taylor and second marriage to Paul. In all of Taylor’s friends’ celebrations in the last five years, I have allowed myself to cry for the loss that Taylor isn’t here to celebrate with us and didn’t get to experience life events his friends can. In each instance those tears of loss were always mixed with tears of joy as I saw new life and love blooming, perfect gifts from God. More than that, I was honored and blessed to be invited into their joy and celebrations.

Recently, God took me to a new level of understanding in this truth. Paul and Michelle were blessed with a baby girl, Emma. This little angel has stolen my heart and the hearts her parents, grandma’s, and many others. She is a charmer and a flirt one minute and is not afraid to tell you what she wants the next; cute and spunky define her well. I’m also unbiased and convinced she is highly intelligent and God has great plans for her life. Watching her grow and learn is amazing. (I always say if every home had a baby in it, we wouldn’t need any other form of entertainment).

Emma Carla 20171009_094912

Last month, Paul and Michelle invited our family to join their family at Emma’s baby dedication. At this special ceremony, they did something very simple but so meaningful with a moment of silent prayer as the pastor asked us all to lift up all the couples and newborns to the Lord, asking Him to show his deep love to these children that they would, one day, receive His incredible love and gift of eternal life. As we each prayed this privately in our own words, the silence took my breath away as I felt the loving power of those prayers bringing hope and joy to our spirits.

After prayer and the parents returned to their seats, the worship team led us in a beautiful song I hadn’t heard, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. The first line caught my heart, “Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me.” Maybe this was not the intent of the song writer, but in that moment, those two phrases showed me God preparing Emma’s life long ago. Before time began, He planned for beautiful Emma specifically to be born to Paul and Michelle with their DNA and her darling personality.  He also knew our son would be a part of their story and we would be a unique family abundantly blessed by her little life.

As I began listening to more of the song, the Lord pushed my imagination to see a bit of Heaven. While I’m not sure what our loved ones see from the other side, (Hebrews 12), I could almost see Taylor dancing around the throne of God in worship, reveling in the immense reckless love of his Creator and Savior. I could see our son smiling and looking down on us with his clear-eyed vision of truth and eternity – a bit cloudy to us on earth. He now fully understands God’s sovereign plan for all of us – Paul, Michelle, their families, Gary, me, our other kids and now, Emma. Without complicated earthly emotions, our Heaven-dwelling son gets it: God planned Emma’s life before time began and is rejoicing along with us in God’s sovereign plan. Taylor knows this new sweet life is an amazing gift that will be a joy to watch as it blooms in God’s love and blesses us along the way.

This summer, I’m looking forward to another joyous occasion as we are honored to be hosting with Gary officiating the wedding of Taylor’s closest friend, Jamison, who is marrying one of our daughter’s closest friends, Emily, in our backyard, where they all grew up with our children. I’m praying God might give Taylor a glimpse of that happy day, which he prayed for six years ago. I will shed some tears missing his presence at this new celebration but will shed even more happy tears for the new journey and new life of another couple in our story.

Uncategorized

Does the Light Live Past Christmas?

Christmas - New Year 2017-2018

“When you wake up every morning, aren’t you just so excited and grateful that Jesus came to die for you?” My friend, Nancy, asked me this question at a Christmas concert a couple weeks ago. She had asked this same question to a group of ladies who had been followers of Jesus for many years and they all sadly replied, “No”. I thought for a minute and replied, “Since our imperfect son went to be with God’s perfect Son, I am very grateful every morning.” But do I always live out that gratitude and excitement throughout my day?

God had already started a joy work in me over Thanksgiving as I stepped into a deeper and more intentional prayer life. However, Nancy’s question reminded me that no matter what is going on around me or if the rest of my peeps aren’t walking in joy, I don’t really have an excuse for not living a second by second life of gratitude and joy, walking with the anticipation of eternal life and an abundant life on earth.

This year I have meditated a lot on the response of the people surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story is full of wonder in all the characters, but my favorite verses in the Christmas story are of the shepherds. I love reading it in the Message as it captures the humanness of the ragamuffin characters God chose to announce it to first.

Luke 2:15-19 The Message

“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.”

Probably tired from a long day in the fields, they didn’t just mosey on over to find the Messiah, they ran and told everyone, even amazing Mary!

My cousin, Missy, was recently doing a study on this and shared this powerfully  interesting Bible history trivia.

“Bethlehem was a Levite city and the shepherds in the surrounding area were charged with raising the “first born male lambs, perfect and without blemish.” To accomplish this, when certain lambs were born they would put them in a specific cave wrapped in swaddling clothes so as not to thrash about and be hurt. So, when the angels said the baby will be found in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, they knew exactly where to go to find Him AND they knew the significance of the perfect I AM being born!”

The shepherds knew they would be free from the burden of the law and it would be fulfilled in their Messiah, in their lifetime! I’m sure every day after this, they woke up, ecstatically free knowing their Messiah had come.

I am sitting here in my favorite room in my house to have one last morning with the Lord watching my Christmas tree lights. On the left is a mess on a misplaced chair, the last remaining re-positioning of my office moved to make room for our daughter to return home. Praise God! On the right are the boxes to pack the remaining ornaments away until next year and in the background, the mantel lights are not quite as perfect as they were last week, a kind of frazzled joy still shining.

I was reminded this morning as I stepped into this room that despite the messes in my life the light still dawns every day and when focused on this, the messes in the darkness are minimized. A check in my spirit reminded me of my friend’s question and prompted me to develop a constant habit to recognize this light every day in 2018, without the Christmas tree reminders. Will I let this light live through me past Christmas?

January is typically a time for us to reballance our lives, physically, mentally and spiritually. I will be taking a break from social media. My plans are to go even deeper into this Messianic Joy, getting to know my Messiah more and focus on relationships that aren’t distracted by my phone. And, I will be praying for all you, my friends and family, that the light will dawn brighter in your lives too.

If you would like to send prayer requests via Messenger, or through this blog, I would be sincerely happy to add you to my list this month.

Have a radiant 2018!

In His Embrace,

Carla