Advent – Mary’s Song

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I’m adding layers of color to the background of my drawing. I’m thinking of Mary’s joy, while at Elizabeth’s home. Mary seems truly humbled to realize more deeply, she is carrying the promised Messiah foretold in Scripture.

Mary’s Song – Luke 1:46-55

“My soul lifts up the Lord!
My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
For though I’m God’s humble servant,
God has noticed me.
Now and forever,
I will be considered blessed by all generations.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
holy is God’s name!
From generation to generation,
God’s lovingkindness endures
for those who revere Him.”

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Mary bursts forth with praise and worship for God; she reviews His power, character, mercy and compassion, and that He is her liberator or savior! I begin adding layers of vivid color as I consider Mary’s song of adoration.

“God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
The proud in mind and heart,
God has sent away in disarray.
The rulers from their high positions of power,
God has brought down low.
And those who were humble and lowly,
God has elevated with dignity.
The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
To Israel, God’s servant,
God has given help,
As promised to our ancestors,
remembering Abraham and his descendants in mercy forever.”

 

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Caleb, my youngest grandson, visits me while I am painting, so I know I will be taking a break for now. My energy has diminished as well.

I am seeing Mary’s humility in new ways this year. She is undone that God has noticed her, and that all generations will be blessed through her, and through the birth of her child. Once she has humbled herself, she recounts all God’s mighty acts, His disdain for the proud, and His lovingkindness and mercy. for the humble. The humble are very special to His heart.

This is an inadequate illustration, however, I can compare Mary’s feelings with mine when I’ve received an art prize that was so honoring, while thinking, “I’m amazed, I don’t deserve this. There are so many who painted better than me.”

I’ve been wrestling with my pride throughout this cancer journey. I know God continues to build humility in me – something He treasures.  I spend lots of hours lying down, resting, and asking forgiveness for ME wanting to be in control of my life, and have it turn out MY way. I am jealous of those with good health and ease in running about. Then I repent of my jealousy. Then, I get jealous again, Ugh. Round and round I go. I’d like to be a little more like Mary in my situation – reviewing God’s attributes with thankfulness – so, let me try: His name is holy, His lovingkindness is everlasting, those that are humble He elevates, and He feeds the hungry. God is my savior – Jesus has come to liberate me, us, from sin, our pride, and set us free. I am so, so thankful!

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Heavenly Father, I am so thankful you created me, you placed me in a family, You have supplied all my material needs, and, as I humble myself before your glory and majesty, you will raise me up. You will keep all your promises to me. Thank you, Father, for this season of expectant waiting.  Even in the midst of cancer.

What A Team! – Peru

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The team of women serving in Peru consisted of women from a variety of experiences, ages, churches, unchurched, and friends. Our fearless leaders, Konnie and Shannon, handled their roles, and this team, admirably! We saw several unique spots in Peru during some down time. One such spot was the beach where the reed boats pictured above are still in use for fishing.

Each woman on the team was brave in processing her own story, and sharing what she could in order to heal, minister to others, and bring darkness to the light. I had the opportunity to teach about the importance of sharing our stories by using the illustration below. My friend, Judy, has counseled people using the illustration. I had the privilege of sitting with her as she counseled one woman using this illustration, and it really rang true for my own healing journey.

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When we have a physical wound, say, an open gash on our forearm, we hold it close to our bodies. We protect it, and seek medical treatment to clean out the gash, stitch it up, cover it with sterile bandaging, and keep it clean until it completely heals. We wouldn’t be able to fully use our arm until the gash is healed. We are extra careful to make sure it isn’t injured while it is healing.
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Many of us are walking around with emotional gashes that we are protecting and holding close to ourselves. We need to have care for these gashes as well, but we often keep quiet about them, hoping they magically go away. But, they don’t. They, too, need to be cleaned out, stitched up, bandaged and cared for until healing is complete. We must bring emotional gashes into the light for loving care and healing. We often limp through life holding these emotional gashes close, fearful of them being further hurt.
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By speaking out our stories, using art as a bridge, and being heard, we have a way to move toward emotional healing. As others give us the gift of listening, and as they speak truth, love and light into our stories, praying through them, healing may begin.
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Praying through our stories in Peru.

Storyropes™ in Peru – Part 2

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We began our time of storying, by having both the American team and the Peruvian leaders make storyropes™ and pray through their stories. This entailed two workshops. We eventually put all our storyropes™ together on a gold chord. The gold chord represents God’s overarching story. We are part of God’s larger story of redemption.
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One from the American team is tying on her storyrope™. Her story matters, and is important for telling God’s story. Without her story, God’s story is incomplete.
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This dear woman came forward with her storyrope™ completely overcome with sorrow. She asked for help from Konnie to share her story. I saw her meeting with Konnie one on one, and eventually she joined a small group of women, where she shared her difficult story.
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She eventually did tell her story, released deep trauma, and asked Jesus to save her from sin and death. What joy was expressed when she hung her storyrope™ on the gold chord that represents God’s story! We were all rejoicing with her! God sets the captives free. Bring light and life(Jesus) into our stories, and evil slinks, scurries away!
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After tying their storyropes™ to the gold chord, each woman received a crown to remind her of her worth and significance as a woman and daughter of the King of Kings. Many have been abused, violated, enslaved, beaten, and abandoned by the most important people in their lives. They began to see their true selves and embrace their stories.
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As we looked at the tapestry our storyropes™ made, it helped us to remember we are not alone, and we matter for the telling of God’s beautiful, larger story. The telling of the darks and lights are important in creating this beauty.

I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise. Isaiah 60:17, 18

Home from Nicaragua

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Watercolor Sketch, Nicaragua, Marcia Carole, February 2015

What a wonderful time of celebration we all had in Los Cedros, Nicaragua. My church has partnered with some folks down there, have built a school, helped plant a church, and built homes. We’ve held men’s conferences, women’s conferences, VBS programs, and sponsored students at the school. Our church choir has sung there, and for this celebration, men and women from Los Cedros joined the choir to form an amazing international choir!

We’ve shared our hearts, and they have shared theirs. It’s been a treasured partnership for all of us!

In years past, I’ve painted murals and helped women share their stories through art while living in Los Cedros. I lived there a couple of months a few years back and made some lovely friendships with women and the children. They are so generous with their love.

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Marcia helping women in sharing their stories through art.

This time, I worked with one woman, brought her many art tools, and gave her a watercolor lesson. Our translator, Daniel, was excited to join us in learning to paint. What fun to have Daniel join us! Before over 300 people ate dinner together, and celebrated our ten years of partnership, I slipped in this lesson. We painted the beach and learned how to use watercolors. I also tried to help my students “see” better for their art making.

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Marcia teaching watercolor to Cela and Daniel at the beach celebration.

I don’t know when I’ll return, but I left part of my heart in Nicaragua. I pray I might be able to return to live there an extended time again.

“Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: give me leave to do my utmost.”-Isak Dinesen, Babette’s Feast.