Sunday, July 10, 2016

A is for Attempt

Our rector at St. James Episcopal Church, in Del Rio, Texas, is on vacation.  As a licensed worship leader in our diocese, I was asked to conduct the service, which includes a homily.  The following was my ATTEMPT at giving a homily:

Abide - My Playbook 2016 (Part 2a)
Tim Holtz Embossing Folder; Acrylic Paints; Watercolors; Sharpie Micron Pen; Prismacolor Colored Pencils; and Ephemera.
Julia and Jan's What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 371
Kristin & Eva's Paint Party Friday - Week 19 Year 6
Roger & Denise ABC Wednesday - Letter A
In Rev. Marshall A. Jolly’s sermon, Are We Ready to Hear the Truth?, he said, “Christians have become accustomed to being soothed on Sunday morning with a feel-good message that portrays God as little more than a Divine “fixer,” taking our failings and jagged edges, and smoothing them over into something sublime and holy. “God works all things for good,” we say.”  Hence, the popularity of preachers such as Joel Osteen, whom I confess I like to listen to sometimes.  His primary focus is often on passages such as the one we read in Deuteronomy 30:9-14.  I agree, if we turn to the LORD our GOD with all our heart and soul, and we observe his commandments and decrees, abundant prosperity in all our undertakings can be found.  I could write a book on all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, even when I didn’t feel I deserved them.

Peace - My Playbook 2016 (Part 2b)
Tim Holtz Pine Cone Die; Acrylic Paints; Sakura Oil Pastels; Sharpie Micron Pen
Simons Says Stamp Monday Challenge: Red, White or Blue
Art Journal Journey - In My Garden
Try It On Tuesday - Happy Holidays
However, it is imperative that we also remember Jesus’ words in Luke 10:25-37, about the Good Samaritan.  But, who were the Samaritans?  After a little research, I found that Samaritans were a racially mixed society of Jewish and pagan ancestry.  They worshiped the same God as the Jews, but only accepted the first five books of the Bible as canonical and had their temple on Mount Gerizim instead of Zion.  Because of their differences in Jewish practices and their partly pagan ancestry, they were despised by the Jews.  Samaritans were despised so much, that Jews would not even set foot in their territory in fear of contamination.  In John 8:48, they’re even referred to as demon-possessed.  Doesn’t it sound like what’s happening these days?

Sunday Sketches - My Playbook 2016 (Part 2c)
Mixed Media Photo and Pixelmator
Alexandra's Sunday Sketches
Anyway, In the Bible Study: 8 Pentecost, Susan Butterworth reflects, “It’s a rare person who doesn’t know the parable of the Good Samaritan. Unlike some of the parables, the message seems quite clear: Love your neighbor. Anyone in need is your neighbor. It is understood that the Samaritan is an outsider. It is the outsider who shows compassion to the half-dead man by the roadside after the priest and the Levite, members of the community, have crossed to the other side. In the parable, it is the outsider who is the true neighbor because he shows mercy.

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Fisher's Advantedge Up, Up & Away Punch; WeR Memory Keepers SewEasy; Martha Stewart Drippy Goo Punch; BasicGrey Hey You Paper Pad; DCWV Textured Pad; ATC's Corrugated Pack; Mini Popsicle Stick; Sequins & Glass Beads; and Ribbon Scrap
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge: Photo Inspiration
Karen's Word Art Wednesday Weeks #238-239
Ramona's Inspire Me Monday - Week #236
It is moral and Godly to show mercy and compassion to anyone in need, whether that person is one of your community or an outsider. In our lives, we probably know this. While the parable is about doing what is right – “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Go and do likewise” – there is more to the story than righteous behavior.  In the passage immediately preceding the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” He is talking about faith. The priest and the Levite are in a hurry, on their way to work in the temple. They don’t really see the injured man except as an obstacle in their path. The Samaritan sees and is moved with pity. He sees in a different way, with blessed eyes, with the eyes of faith. Perhaps when Jesus says to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise,” he means see with the eyes of faith.

Take a look at the various characters in the parable, particularly the lawyer, the priest, the Levite and the innkeeper. Think about their lives and their reaction to the events of the story. Put yourself in each character’s place. In what ways are you like each character? How does each one feel and react to the injured man? Would you react the same way?  Think of this parable as a story of ministry and healing.”

A Visit to Hope Outdoor Gallery, Austin, Texas
Nikon D3300 Photographs Collaged on Layout
Our Beautiful World - Play

Therefore, in today’s society, where the world, our nation and even our families and circle of friends seem to be breaking more and more apart due to partisan, social, cultural, religious, and other points of view, I believe we all need to keep Jesus’ parable regarding the Good Samaritan in our heart, soul, and mind.  In the words of my 20 year old daughter, after the recent shootings in our country, “There should be no argument as to who’s right or wrong.  It all comes down to the same fault: people were killed senselessly.  There are families hurting on both sides due to hate and violence.  My prayer is for Peace in this country.  Gracious, Everlasting, Unifying Peace.”  I wholeheartedly agree, as I feel ashamed of my personal biases.  We need to stop focusing on the negativity we see in the news and social media, and truly love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and and with all our mind: and our neighbors (which includes our enemies) as ourselves.  We need thrive to all be one in HIM.  May the peace of the Lord be with us, the nation, and the world.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Y is for Yūgen

 As I was searching for a word to use as inspiration for my post this week, I came across the Chinese and Japanese word yūgen.  Being a fan of the Japanese arts, I was naturally drawn to it.  Yūgen is an important concept in Japanese aesthetics.  According to Chinese philosophical texts, it means dim, deep, or mysterious.  However, in Japanese culture, it is used to refer to a profound and mysterious sense of beauty in the universe or the sad beauty of human suffering.  Yūgen is beyond what can be articulated about a special experience or something beautiful in the world.  Therefore, in my mind, it would be like the first time I saw each of my girls after my wife gave birth to them.

Summer Angel Card
Tim Holtz Sewing Room Die, Layered Angel Wings Die/Embossing Folder, as well as Bottle Caps & Retro Cirque Embossing Folders; Various Tissue Tapes, Distress Ink Pads & Stickes; EK Success Balloon, Star & Heart Punches; K&Company Americana Paper; Mulberry Paper; Matte & Shimmer White Cardstock; Uniball Air Pen; Copic Fine Ink Brown Pens; Scrap Ribbon & Fibers; and Glass Beads.
Simon Says Stamp
Karen's Word Art Wednesday - Weeks #236-237
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Anything Goes
Ramona's Inspire Me Monday #235
The latter are two of my most memorable moments of yūgen, which I chose to represent here with a Summer Angel original design for my oldest daughter's birthday card.

My Wife's Garden
iPhone 6s, iPhoto & Pixelmator
Our Beautiful World #153 - Three
Denise & Roger's ABC Wednesday 18-Y is for Yūgen
Julia and Jan's What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday #369
Another moment of yūgen is the miraculous manner through which God produces food for our nourishment through the vines of a tomato plant.

My Playbook (Work In Progress)
Zutter's Bind-It-All V2.0 & Double Owire; Tim Holtz Elastic Loop & Mini Stapler; Martha Stewart Screw Punch; EK Success Door Knocker Dimensional Sticker; Dymo Labeler; Ephemera; Assorted Scraps of Hand painted & Gelli Prints; Pentel Sepia Brush Pen; Sharpie Micron Pen; Various Types of Adhesives; and Scrap Ribbon.
Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Tic Tac Toe
Kristin & Eva's Paint Party Friday - Week 17 Year 6
Alexandra's Sunday Sketches 
Other moments of yūgen for me are the ones I experience when I work on my artwork to create something out of nothing, such as this "Playbook" to express my feelings through this summer.

There are a plethora of other moments of yūgen that I've been granted throughout my life for which I'm very thankful.  Just yesterday I experienced another one, when I received my passing scores to be certified as a school principal in the State of Texas.  As per James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  I pray that you find moments of yūgen in your lives.  Peace - Shalom - Paz!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

W is for Wondrous

Hello friends!  ¡Hola amigos!  Summer is here, and it's a wondrous feeling!  I have several important tasks to take care of this summer, such as home repairs to be made, a professional licensing test to take, and work on a school district strategic planning committee.  However, I will also have time to travel to visit family, time to visit museums, time to interact with nature, time to read, and time to work in my art studio.  It's such a marvelously freeing and inspiring feeling to have some control over my daily schedule.  Anyway, the following are a few of the art projects I've been working on since my last post with a short description of my inspiration.

Flowers of Peace
Strathmore Toned Tan Artist Tile; Mechanical Pencil, Sakura Micron Pens; Uni Ball Air Pen; Royal Talen's Opaque Watercolors; and Prismacolor Colored Pencils.
Moo-Mania *** Masculine
Creating and Sharing Mixed Media Art
Julia's (& Jan's) What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday #367
Eva & Kristin's Paint Party Friday - Week 15 Year 6
Kim's Show Your Face
This tile was inspired by a quote by Tichh Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk & Peace Activist, "In the garden of my heart the flowers of peace bloom beautifully."

Beach Garden Wedding Card
Brother Scan'N Cut; We R Memory Keepers Alphabet Punch; Paper Flowers; Glass Beads; Distressing Ink Pad; Kraft Card Base; Various Cardstock; Jute Cord; Various Types of Adhesive; and a UniBall Air Pen.
Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Summer Garden
This greeting card was inspired by a fellow teacher and friend of mine who loves flamingos and is having a beach garden wedding in just a couple of weeks.

Deuteronomy 23:12-13
iPhone 6S Shot Edited on iPhoto
Our Beautiful World: OBW 151~Texture
Sue's Image-In-Ing
Karen's Word Art Wednesday: Challenge Week #234-235
I took a field trip with my students to a Christian camp, and was intrigued by the Scriptural reference on the outhouse.  It refers to Halakha, Jewish law, on the proper way to relieve oneself.

Father's Day Card
Tim Holtz (TH) Travel Ways, Warehouse District, and Odds and 100th Collection Stamps; TH Distress Inks; TH Gadget Gears, Mini Gears, and Mini Tickets Dies; Glossy Accents; Adirondack Gold Dabber; Various Brads; Various Adhesives; Manila Tag; Kraft Card Base; Silver Metallic Cardstock; Uni Ball Air Pen; and Scrap Ribbon.
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Father's Day
The Male Room Challenge #37 - Father's Day
Ramona' Inspire Me Monday - Week 232

This card is for my Father-in-law, whom I love dearly.  Although he is not known for working on his cars, he is an engineer.  Therefore, I thought the gears were appropriate.

In Memory of Muhammed Ali
Art Journal and Mechanical Pencil
Alexandra's Sunday Sketches
Try It On Tuesday: It's All About Him
Denise & Roger's ABC Wednesday - Letter W
This sketch, which is a work in progress, was inspired by the late Muhammed Ali.  Although I've never been into boxing, I always admired his personal strength and determination.

As you can see through my work, this Summer has been a wondrous journey thus far.  I hope yours is as wondrous as well.  Thank you for following my blog and taking the time to leave a gracious comment.  Godspeed!  ¡Vayan con Dios!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

U is for United

United is defined as, "involving people or groups working together to achieve something."  This is the concept the founders of the United States of America had in mind during the formation of our nation.  Yes, we are a country made of various cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, as well as with a plethora of personal religious, political and other beliefs.  However, overall we respect and value each other's differences as fellow Americans.  This has been evident during tragedies such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, when we all united in mourning and work to help the affected peoples in our nation.  Our military forces are one of the best examples of unity, as they fight around the world for freedom side by side, no matter what their personal difference may be (or even genders).  In remembrance of those whom have died for our country, I pulled some quotes to honor them.

USA/Americana Paper Banner Garland
We R Memory Keepers' Banner Punch Board & Alphabet Punch Board; Martha Stewart Fringe Cutter and border punch; EK Success Star Punch;K&Company Americana Cardstock; Two-tone Tissue Paper; Tim Holtz Tissue Tapes, Distress Stickes, and ink pad; Foam Pad & Glue Stick Adhesives; Ribbon & Jute Cord; Sakura Micon Pen
Karen's Word Art Wednesday #232-233
Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Make A Wish
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Anything Goes
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
~Declaration of Independence~

Strathmore Artist Tile; Mars Mechanical Pencil & Stump; UniBall Air Pen & Sakura Micron Pens; Talens Opaque Watercolors; and Prismacolor Colored Pencils.
Alexandra's Sunday Sketches
Ramona's Inspire Me Monday - Week 230
Julia's What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday #365
Kristin & Eva's Paint Party Friday - Week 13 Year 6
Kim's Show Your Face
"Freedom lies in being bold."
~Robert Frost~

Coffee Cups United Under The Blue Sky
Nikon D3300 Shot Edited on iPhoto and Pixelmator
Our Beautiful World #149 ~ Cup
Denise & Roger's ABC Wednesday - Letter U
Sue's Image-In-Ing
America!  America!  God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
~Katherine Lee Bates~

May we never forget our military forces' sacrifices, as well as those made by their families.  Thank you for following my blog, as well as taking the time to leave a comment.  Peace!  ¡Paz!  ¡Shalom!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

S is for Schedule

My current schedule is overflowing with all sorts of professional and personal responsibilities.  There's student testing to be done,   School functions to attend, Church commitments to complete, personal development tasks to work on, and the list goes on and on.  When my schedule is this full, I  can easily feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious.  Therefore, I need to make a conscious effort to relax and stay focused.  I know I'm not the only one in this situation, so I decided to share some thoughts I find helpful.

You Cannot Control The Results
Pencil, Micron Pens, Opaque Water Colors, and Colored Pencils
Anything But Cute Challenge #13 - Celebrate Your Style
Julia's (& Jan's) What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday #363
Kristine & Eva's Paint Party Friday Week 11 Year 6
Kim's Show Your Face - Head Positions
Alexandra's Sunday Sketches
First, although I always strive to do my best, I need to be aware that perfection is not always plausible.  I need to remember Allan Lokos quote, "You cannot control the results, only your actions."

Summer in Mustang Island, Texas
Casio Exilim Shot By My Daughter Edited by Me on iPhoto & Pixelmator
Ramona's Inspire Me Monday #228
ABC Wednesday - Letter S
Sue's Image-In-Ing
Our Beautiful World #147 ~ By the Sea
Moo- Mania - Water
I need to make time to relax, even if it's just to reminisce on special moments.  The words in Psalm 46:l0, are a good reminder."Be still, and know that I am God."

Thank You, Jesus!
Colored Pencils and Metallic Pen
Art Journal Journey- Journeys
Try It On Tuesday - Spots, Dots and Splashes
Karen's Word Art Wednesday #230-31
Finally, I need to remember Tecumseh's words, "When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on dealing with hectic schedules, and would love to hear what you do.  Anyway, I also want to thank all my followers, as well as everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my blog post last week.  Peace!  Paz!  Shalom!