Ways I can afford to spend time sharing life with you

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Friday, August 31, 2018

How to Art Journal

 Art Journaling Series: part 1

                Have you ever wanted to start a journal but didn’t know where to start, what to write about, what to leave out? Ever start a journal and get overwhelmed by the details of life or been afraid it would be seen by your family or kids one day or the whole world if you ever had five minutes of fame? Trust me I have been there. I have been journaling in some form on and off since I was 10 years old. I know all the struggles but I have also reaped many of the benefits and that is what I want to share with you.

                Art journaling is a whole category of journaling that helped me overcome many of the pitfalls of traditional journaling. It simply means journaling that includes images. You don’t have to be an artist. There are lots for techniques that take little to no artistic training.  Though, it is a wonderful place to explore new art techniques and tools if you are artistically inclined.
                Journaling helps you make connections and give meaning to the events that happen to you and in the world around you. When done right it reinforces positive pathways in your brain and solidifies your values and world view. It gives you practice in reacting to the world in the way that you deem respectable and constructive. Too many times, however, my written journals have spiraled into rants that only escalated the situation in my own head. The beauty I have found in art journaling is that it is light on words and heavy on meaning. It is hard to get carried away in chronicling the details of an event when you only have a page or two to fill with images. It cuts straight to the emotions and meaning of the situation and keeps the personal defenses down.
                It turns out that this kind of journaling is healthy for your mind and body. The things you reflect on most you learn from and remember long term. All the other junk information that streams through your day can just fall away. According to Scientific America studies have shown that reflective, values focused journaling helps you cope better with stress, heal better, boosts your immune system, and may even raise you GPA in school. So that’s how I passed nursing school! Ha

So How do You Start?

                Honestly, there are no rules, but I have tried tons of ideas that I am happy to share. All of them will take WAY more than this one blog post though. So, I have made this a series that I will add to every other week between all the other interests I post about. I will share journaling ideas, prompts, tools, and techniques as well as my own art journals to encourage you.

First, Gather MATERIALS.

Of course, you will need a JOURNAL. My favorite is the Strathmore visual journal. It has a hard cover to protect your work. Thick pages that can take on about any kind of medium (that’s your pencils, paints, inks, markers, and glue) and it is spiral bound so it can expand with what ever you put in it.  
Drawing/ painting tools. Pens, pencils, markers, watercolor paint or craft paint, even crayons. The sky is really the limit here.
Collage supplies. For those that are not very confident in their drawing skills you will love this one. Gather your favorite magazines, mailers from your favorite stores, children’s books. And Glue. Some of my favorites are quality gluesticks, mod podge, and acid free double-sided tape. You might want a sponge brush to apply the glue but I find my finger and a damp rag to clean in off work just fine.
Alphabet stamps and stencils. Until you are more confident with your own hand lettering this is a good place to start. Stencils offer all kinds of possibilities and the stamps are great for memorizing things as well because you have to find each letter separately. You can do this by cutting words out of magazines too if you don’t have stamps yet.
A bag to keep your supplies in so you can journal anywhere. Availability will help you keep you journaling habit consistent.  My favorite is actually from an Indiana nonprofit organization called the First Chance Center. Their Envision line of bags are so sturdy and have tons of pockets and best yet they provide training and jobs to people with disabilities who otherwise may not have got a chance in the work force. 

Second, Decide on your STYLE.

                What purpose is it going to serve for you? Is it to encourage you, help you study something you want to know more about, to process grief or and illness, or to help you remember things, etc. My first art journal was in art school (duh) and was specifically to help me become a better artist. That evolved into a journal to capture my ideas. That was a pocket size one I carried everywhere with me. Then there were travel journals, and health journals and devotionals, and dare I mention, scrapbooking! That is the most common and well-known form of art journaling. So here is a list of types of journaling that I can tell you a bit more about.

🌿The Field Journal: This journal helps you perfect a skill or learn more about a subject. Think Audubon or DaVinci. They drew in journals to better illustrate their research.
✨The Timeline Journal: This is akin to the scrapbook. It tells a story about your life.
🌿The Travel Journal:  This can be one journal for each long trip or book of all the places far and near that you stay in, dine in, or explore.
✨The Devotional/prayer Journal:  A meditation journal in which you spend a set portion of each day in spiritual thought, be it through verse, quotes, prayer or gratefulness.
🌿The Garden Journal: Part planner, part record, the garden journal helps you remember what worked and what didn’t and in what season to do or expect certain things. It can also be used as simply another way to appreciate the garden and can help get through the doldrums of winter.
✨The Vision Journal: This can help you on the way to meeting a goal. It helps you visualize where you want to be, how you get there and records your little successes along the way. All the big motivational speakers suggest these steps but you can keep these all in one place with an art journal.
🌿The Health Journal: This type is more focused. Whatever area of your life you want to get healthier in, it is always helpful to keep a journal. In mental health, losing weight, finding food sensitivities, and so on using glyphs, stencils or stickers to log your new routines and celebrate each achievement along the way will make it more fun.
✨The Happy Thoughts Journal: My personal favorite. I will be including a prompt list for this one soon. In this one you fill the pages with things that make you smile, memories or great times, and the words of people who love and encourage you. With this just near by you can never forget how good life really is.

Finally, Just do it.

Remember you don’t have to share these with anyone else. So, if you start out a little clumsy, no worries. It’s all about the process. And I will be here to guide you if you need it. My next post will include prompts, more examples and simple techniques. I am super excited to share this journey with you hope you enjoy it too.
                To get notified every time I post add yourself too the Earthshaper email list. I promise I will not spam you  ‘cause I ain’t got no time for that either. Haha. Maybe, one post a week or less at this point but I would hate for you to miss them. Or you can like our Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What's the Story with Barn Quilts?

The story of the barn quilt is vague and fairly undocumented until the early 2000's. Some say it began in 2001 with an Ohio lady that started the first barn quilt trail to boost rural tourism. More on those later. Some say it was a Dutch tradition that has been around for hundreds of years. Others say they were used to mark the underground railroad. As with many conflicting histories, it was most likely a combination somewhere in the middle.

 Pennsylvania Dutch Barn starThe Pennsylvanian Dutch had a tradition of painting stars or flowers on their barns. These became popular around in the 1830s when paint was affordable enough to use on larger areas. However, the symmetrical and often geometric designs came from the smaller motifs already used on marriage and birth certificates, around the home and, yes, from their quilts.  The symbolism in these designs was steeped in superstition particularly for farmers, as most life and death professions depend to a degree on luck. Some symbols that makes sense are eight pointed stars for abundance, rosettes to protect from famine, pomegranates for fertility, oak leaves for strength and tulips for faith. Later they became even more specific such as a horse to protect livestock from disease. 

 Art history board
As superstition became more and more frowned upon by the puritan neighbors the designs became more decorative and personal. They started to serve as landmarks to draw the attention of tourists which revived the art that was threatening to die out.

It is easy to make the jump from the quilts and folk art of the past to the quilters and folk artists of today. 

What's the Story with Barn QuiltsThe Modern Barn Quilt began as an enlarged version on a single block from a real quilt. These were often made to commemorate a heritage of quilting such as design passed down from a grandmother. Since elaborate quilting traditions have deep roots in our European ancestry, it stands to reason that it would surface in this way as Americans have become so interested in genealogy and the cultures that once defined them.    
As always we began to put our own spin on the barn quilts and today you can find artisans creating everything from enormous displays of precise optical illusions and color plays to quaint shelf size decorator items to bring that farmhouse chic look into the kitchen or nursery. 

This variety is what make the Barn Quilt Trails such a fun and enriching way to see the countryside.  A Barn Quilt trail consists of a map that is put together of a county or region that connects all the barn quilts in view from the road.  It is a great way to increase agritourism in the less population dense farmlands of America. Many of the stops on the maps lead the traveler to little farm stands, U-pick orchards, wineries, small business owners, and craftsman's shops. On the way it helps one gain an appreciation for the beauty of the land and work that goes into some of our basic necessities. 

If you know of a barn Quilt trail near you please comment or email me. I would love to put together a list that that anyone can find a trail near them. 

Here is a List of Barn Quilt trails I have found as of Aug 2018. 

Gibson County, Princeton IN 
Miame County Peru IN/
LaGange County Shipshewana, IN
Kentucky map of Barn Quilt trails

Commission your own Barn Quilt for your Farm, Shed, Small business, Home, or mailbox at Earthshaper Arts on Etsy.  


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Arizona Indian Reservation Mission Trip

5 tips to keep your light bright after a Mission trip
Our mission team's feet (to properly protect the identities of our travel worn friends, lol)

At Least Once in a Life Time

      My husband, 15 year old daughter and I just got back from a short term mission trip in Arizona. If you haven't been a mission trip in which you were immersed in the culture of less fortunate people then you should go at least once. It is an eye-opening, change your whole world view, growth experience. The longer you can stay and the more immersed you can be the better. Walking in the shoes and getting to know an oppressed or disadvantaged people makes you so much more humble and  appreciative of all we have in life.  It destroys the stereotypes and pre-judgments that separate us.
     Surprisingly the hard part of going on these short term missions is to keep the fires of passionate service burning when you come home. You can spend nearly a year planning, fundraising, recruiting, talking it up to everyone you know till you finally get there to spend an amazing week or two serving and learning everyday. I really believe that helping each other is an intrical part of our human make up, so when we set aside the time to do it we are filled up by it.  Therefor, it makes since that we may experience some withdrawals when we return home to our seemingly self centered and secular lives after.  We may even become irritated and disenchanted by the "spoiled" whines of the cluelessly blessed society around us. 

So how can we fan the fires of service and fill the void when we return from a Mission?

1. Process the Experience.

Continue journaling or Start Now if you didn't journal during the trip (I'll admit I fell asleep on mine a few nights). If you had any kind of culture shock learning your new culture, you will likely have reverse culture shock coming home. With your newly opened eyes you will see things about the privileged world that you simply accepted before.Process those emotions between you and God so that you can respond with Grace when you are confronted with actions or attitudes that offend your new world views. 

2. Plan your Responses.

As 1 Peter 3:15 says, Be prepared to give an answer for the reason for your hope, Also be prepared to answer those who ask about your trip. This is part of your witness and people are often interested but don't know what to ask. Be prepared to describe the culture both their strengths and struggles, how you physically helped them and what they taught you.  If it flows with the conversation relate a spiritual victory that happen there. Close with how you see or want to do things differently now that you have had that experience. Most importantly keep it simple, personal, and meaningful to you and it will more likely mean something to others. If this want to know more you can set a time to meet and talk.

 It is always good for the team or representatives of the team to set up a time to present  the church as well. This is not a time for the team to "toot their own horns" as some may see it but a time to encourage the congregation that the whole church's efforts have a far reaching impact. Read  Acts 14:27 for the example. If it was good enough for the first churches it is good for us too. 

3. Thank your Supporters.

The thing about missions is it takes the whole church. Those who have the time seldom have the money and those with the money rarely have the time. God blessed us each with different gifts, teachers, encouragers, planners, and some have the gift of money management. Money is not the root of all evil as we may tend to think when we walk with the oppressed. The Bible says it is the LOVE of money that causes evil. Those who give money, encouragement, networking, and prayers are giving of their gifts just as much as the teachers and missionaries. So wholeheartedly thank them however you can. 

4. Stay Connected. 

While you were serving hopefully you made some relationships and connections with some of your teammates, your mission hosts, and those you were serving. STAY CONNECTED with them. Make a coffee date or hiking trip with the teammates you especially bonded with. Only they can truly relate to your experience. Write those you leave behind, be it e-mail, snail-mail or Facebook. Sign up for the mission's news letter for updates. Only they can give you continued insights to the needs and answered prayers of the place you left part of you heart in. 

5. Finally, Make it count at Home.

Earth shapers make a difference where ever they are. In big ways but most mostly in small everyday ways. Join a local group that serves an area you particularly love on you trip. My husband's passion was teaching the kids but also growing food to foster independence. So he started a kids gardening club on some unused land at our church. All the extra food goes to the local food bank. The leader of our group has long been a key player in a feeding and pray outreach to the homeless in our town called the Starfish ministry. I chose to write this blog in addition to other things. 

Most of all, let it change how you interact with people everyday. Poverty is a hidden illness that people every community face. It has many symptoms but you never really know the full extent of the struggles some people deal with everyday. And while the poor may always be with us, we can help the symptoms hurt less and remind them that they are of value too, by us and their maker. 

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