My Normal – Living Close To Oxygen, Making Art

Cancer Update: I am four weeks past my last IV chemo today. I stopped in order to gain some strength for my move back to Seattle in early May. I want to be able to get on a plane without being in a heap in my bed! So, my oncologist has put me on two pills to continue to fight stage four breast cancer. One pill kills fast growing cells, including red blood cells. (Yikes!) The other pill is an estrogen reducer; my type of cancer enjoys eating estrogen – something I seem to have in abundance. Both are less harsh than IV chemo. I continue on a low level of oxygen for my breathing. So, I am staying close to my oxygen machine and making new art. I get about 90 feet with all my chording – it keeps me close to home.

During this transition week, I have been collaging the story of Jesus’ encounter with the widow of Nain – a true story you can read in Luke 7:11-17. What struck me about this story is the generous, loving heart of Jesus. As He approaches the funeral procession for the only son of a widow, Jesus is heart-broken for the widow and her plight. He has no problem being emotional about the widow’s grim situation.

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Jesus approaches the funeral procession of the only son of a widow in Nain.

No one asked anything of Jesus. His heart was gripped with compassion for the widow.

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He stops the procession, and Jesus tells the widow not to cry. He then touches the coffin where the dead son lies.  Jesus says, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

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The dead man sat up and began to talk. The Bible does not say what he was talking about, but I’m sure he was surprised to be in a coffin! I collaged the man sitting up and then being reunited with his mother. The Bible says, ” Jesus gave him back to his mother.” Now she would have a son to take care of her in her old age, something very important in that culture. Widows had very meager lives without care from family in Nain.

I’ve added clocks to a couple of pages of my book because I want to talk about time. It seemed like it was too late for this son to be healed. He was dead, for heaven’s sake! However, at just the right time, Jesus comes and raises this man from the dead. Time doesn’t seem to have a hold on Jesus; He seems to operate outside of time. He has power over time and Jesus shows He has power over death within time! (This is something I hold very dear to my heart.)

When I showed this whole book to my grandson, Calvin, age 5, he said, “Just like when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter.” Yes! Calvin acted like it was normal, natural behavior for Jesus to raise this son from the dead – that He has power over death. The faith of a child is a marvelous thing!

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I’m thinking of adding some confetti or banners to the gold chords I have on the last page to make it look more like a celebration. Jesus turned the widow’s mourning into dancing! He does that in the mundane of our lives, too, but His bigger gift to us is: He has died on the cross, been raised from the dead so we don’t have to be separated from God for all eternity. In a real way, we can be raised from the death and darknesses of our hearts right now, today. Jesus is heart-broken for each of us, and He conquered death for each of us if we would believe in Him. I put my faith in Jesus once again, today!

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Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.  As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.  When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”  This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.” Luke 7:11-17

Heaven And Nature Sing

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I want to capture the joy of the Christmas season by using bright red cardinals. I want to suggest snow, and so, I look through my painted papers.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

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I begin this piece with an icy blue background. Then, I add pine cones and evergreens that are torn, so they suggest a touch of snow. I had painted the green papers 4 years ago, and I had painted dots of white to suggest snow.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity. Psalm 98

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Next, I add two red cardinals. They are vividly colored birds with unique markings. The bright red brings joy to my soul.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

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My matted and framed collage – Winter Cardinals

My collage of “nature singing” is complete, and my own heart sings a bit as I place this work in my bedroom. It will encourage my heart when I go through the next chemo – coming up Christmas Eve. I know Heaven will be singing as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our saviour and rescuer from sin, darkness, cancer and death. And, so will the birds!

 

 

 

Collaged Books – Peru

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I made a sample of a Psalm 23 book in order to leave it with the leader in Peru. I did not bring my original, but I was happy to collage another accordion book in response to Psalm 23. Women may process their own stories while collaging Psalm 23. I pray this sample book will spur on many women in sharing their stories and God’s story of redemption.
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Here is Eisleen when she and I painted papers in Peru for her to use in collaging her own books. What a fun day in Peru!
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Lots of water and several colors of paint!
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We painted a variety of colors so Eisleen will have a nice supply.
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I use collaged art books to teach and convey Jesus’ heart for women. (I could only do this work with my amazing translators! Thank you, Flor!) This book is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well found in the Gospels.

Eisleen is planning on using collaged art books to teach the women she leads in Peru. She recently created two pages of a book she is working on to tell the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery.

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Eisleen’s first two pages of her book. I look forward to seeing her completed book.

 

Storyropes™ and Story Squares in Peru 2015

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A wall of storyropes™ with the Peruvian leader, Eisleen.

I have just returned from a three week trip to Trujillo, Peru. What an amazing adventure! A team of 16 women served in seven women’s oasis centers using storyropes™ and story squares to help share personal stories. I always began our time together with a Bible teaching that emphasized Jesus’ love for women. I used my collaged art books to teach the Bible stories. Along with my American team, I was hoping to give each woman emotional courage through the Bible stories, so they could share their hearts, their stories, and release deep trauma.

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Marcia Carole teaching the “Woman At The Well” story.

We prayed for each woman. The American and Peruvian leaders divided up into small groups in order to hear everyone’s story; those who felt comfortable sharing what they could, expressed relief and healing. It was especially meaningful when the Peruvian women prayed for the American women.

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Praying through each story.
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After praying, Each woman was given a crown to remind them they are daughters of the King of Kings! We then shared a simple meal together.
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After many workshops, I felt so blessed and honored to know this dear new friend in Peru.

I’ll be sharing more detailed stories soon, but I wanted to share a first look at my time in Peru. Stay tuned for more!

What Are You Thinking?

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I asked the middle school students I taught in Romania to collage what they were thinking.
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I had the students draw their faces or themselves as best as they could, and then add a giant thinking bubble above their heads. Then they glued down pictures from magazines that represented what they were thinking.
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Here I am with several students as they find magazine pictures for their thinking bubbles.
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The artwork may be a springboard for sharing stories, or to just start a conversation, and possibly have a time of prayer.

My Friends Brought Me To Jesus!

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I have been studying Mark 2:1-12. It’s a passage where Jesus clearly showed He is God. So, it is a turning point in the narrative because of His transparency about His divinity; and now He has enemies – the religious rulers and authorities. Up until this point, He was well received. He’s been a popular guy. However, now He is revealing more about Himself and it’s causing trouble. He says He can forgive sins. That is something only God can do. He has crossed a “religious” line.

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A group of men, with their paralyzed friend, try to see Jesus. There is a huge crowd, and they can’t get into the house where Jesus is teaching. No matter. They climb up onto the roof, part the materials that make up the roof, and lower their friend down to where Jesus is speaking. Their friend’s immediate need is healing from paralysis. They have faith in Jesus to heal their friend. They put actions to their faith!

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Jesus marvel’s at the four friends’ faith, and says their friend’s sins are forgiven. Odd. He wanted freedom from paralysis, and Jesus is forgiving his sins? Interesting. Jesus is addressing this man’s deeper need – healing His soul. That’s most important for the friend. His paralysis and brokenness is far, far deeper than his physical body. Maybe the friend has hatred, despair, unforgiveness, jealousy, dark thoughts of murder in his heart. You can imagine how he may have been treated in his broken state. Jesus, like an amazing, loving surgeon, goes to the root problem this man has and takes it from him. Your sins are forgiven.

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As Jesus forgives this man of his sins, He is also saying, these sins are against ME. Jesus is continuing to reveal He is God. When we sin, Jesus is saying, we are turning our hearts away from Jesus’ way of living, so we are truly sinning against Him. If I have jealousy in my heart, and want another’s story for mine, I am saying to God that the story He has given me is not good enough for me. I think I know better than God, and right there, my heart has turned away from His heart and His will for my story.

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As I think through this passage, I think of friends who have carried me to Jesus. Their kindness and love is amazing. I think of Marsha, who told me Jesus loved me, way back in college. I think of Judy, who loved me even when my story got horribly messy and hard. I think of Marge, who encouraged me in my art and showed me how to embrace the story God has given me. I think of Vickie, who mentored me in forgiveness and prayer, and walked with me through chemo, always bringing me to the Father. And so did my loving, life-long friend Alice, Lori, Suzie, Jackie, Karen, Katie, Amy, Virginia, Trisha, Charise, Eileen, Pat, Dianne, Paula, Judy, Lani, Nancy, Lupe, Jean and so, so, so many others. What examples they are to me! Which makes me ask, “Who can I bring to Jesus today?” I want to be like those faith-filled friends of the paralyzed man. Who needs Jesus in your life today? Let’s bring them to Jesus in prayer and in our conversations.

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I add a cross, of sorts, to this collage, because I know Jesus is holding this man’s story together – and mine as well. Jesus knows our entire stories, our deep soul mess as well as our more obvious paralysis and brokenness. You can just imagine this friend joyfully sharing, “My friends brought me to Jesus, and I am brand new inside and out!”

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Because my Creator God, Jesus, knows me so well, and still loves me, I have hope for my story, even into eternity. I’m certain of His forgiveness deep in my soul, and looking to Him for healing of my cancer, just like He healed the friend of his paralysis. My story is in His hands, and I pray I make much of Jesus and His wonderful deeds in the days He has ordained for me.