This book…this book holds the last 10 1/2 months of my life. It tells my story.
At the end of 2012 there are few things that are more precious to me then this book. I can’t explain it to you. It’s just the way it is.
When I started art journaling in February I didn’t know what it would do to or for me. The gliding on of paint, spreading of Gesso, lettering of my heart upon pages has been instrumental in my healing in the last year.
My art journal
was is a place I can be perfectly honest with myself. Honest in a way that I don’t seem to be when I write in my writing journal.
Some times my pages were merely creating poetry out of the original author’s words. Phrases highlighted to speak my present being at the time. At other times, they were just a letter to myself on the back of an envelope. Each page meaning. My journal has been to the ocean and baptized with salty waters. It’s received rain upon it’s pages. It speaks of the hope in my future.
While I am in Moldova, a friend and I will have the opportunity to share art journaling with the girls living the BOL home. We’ll get to share what the process has been for us. And hopefully for these 12 girls it will be a process of healing as well.
Today I’ll make a last entry in this art journal, and tomorrow will dawn with a new word and new journals for a new year.
To view more of my art journal pages you can see them on my Flickr page.
If you want to learn more about art journaling check out The Art Journaler!!
When January 1st dawned and 2011 became 2012 I had no expectations for the new year. I had no idea how this year of hope would play out. During my year of grace I had this expectation that I’d be taught to have grace and compassion, but things went completely in a direction I hadn’t expected. Yes, I learned these things but during those 365 days so much of what I was learning was God’s grace for me. It was – in a way – a crushed, tattered, bow that would be placed over my broken heart.
So, I started 2012 with no expectations. Not only because I had no idea what to expect, but primarily because in the heart there is so much equality with expectation and hope. If I couldn’t dare to hope, I couldn’t dare to expect. So I started walking fearful of the waves that were calling me.
This year has been one of learning courage, of learning to trust. And this hope and this courage and this trust hasn’t been easy. I know I’ve grown but there are moments when I still feel so broken. I still struggle to trust God. To give myself over to Him fully again.
But learning to walk takes time. We stumble. We fall on our butts. We walk into walls. We trip.
But we get up and try again. That’s what this year has been for me. Learning to walk, falling, and getting back up again.
I’m excited for 2013 and my Word for the year. There is also trepidation as it is calling for a choice to act. I’m excited to share it with you and will do so soon.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. List the the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen child. Anything can be.” – Shel Sliverstein
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver
“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”- Alfred Tennyson
“Oh come thou Dayspring come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here, disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.”
It’s the 26th of November and Christmas music streams in my ear buds. Songs of Noel and Emmanuel’s coming.
My perspective on Christmas is so different than last year. I wonder how I’ve made it through these last 11 months. Through learning to hope again, through slipping on courage, and finding my roar.
Last year, Christmas for me was experiencing God with us. A concept I knew so well but at the time felt more foreign than anything I knew.
And I’m struck again this year by God with us. Where last year was the taking of my hands by Godly ones and being told, “I’m here Prudence. I’ve not abandoned you. I’ve not left you. That ocean that you feel you’re a castaway in…you’re not drifting alone”, this year it’s more an indwelling deep within me.
My our circumstances haven’t changed. Magical, holy fingers haven’t snapped and made all things better. We’re still sitting in the circumstances of a year ago. Yes, some of this is just plain our own fault because of our own fears, reluctance, sign expecting, etc.
Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas. The birth of our Savior. We’re not simply celebrating a birth, but God who meets us where we’re at. In Hebrew the word Emmanuel means God with us. With us in our unbelief. With us in our hurt. With us in our broken hearts. With us in our anger. It’s easy for us to think of God with us in our joy, but how much more comforting to think of Him with us in our darkest moments.
I could not have come through a couple very dark months when curse replaced praise. I could not have made it though these last 11 months of literally learning to walk again if it were not for Emmanuel.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come for thee…”
I’d meant to write a full post today, but not only was it a busy weekend I seem to have gotten sick again. I’m blaming it on dust and cleaning house, and officially saying I’m allergic to house work. 😉
To everyone that donated during the last couple of weeks that you so much.
The winner of the Cookie Giveaway is Elora. Your goodies are in the mail.
I nearly quit. I walked into Shawn’s office early last week with every intention of backing out of the trip to Moldova. My stomach in knots, my shoulders weighed down from stress. Tears fell heavily as I told him I felt I should back out. That I knew there was no way I could raise $3,000. Fortunately, I have a husband that’s very good at talking me down from these emotional reactions that I’m so good at.
Honestly fund raising for my trip has been harder and longer than I thought it would be. It’s been a very, very heavy weight not only on my shoulders but in the very pit of my stomach. I thought for sure I could raise this money easily and quickly. And that’s the thing, I. When we weren’t seeing any money coming in we started devising ways we could contribute, a yard sale, me opening an online shop and selling my art, any number of things. And none of these things would have been bad. Not in the least bit. But I remember mentioning to Shawn one evening that I couldn’t help but feel that we were trying to do it all in our own strength.
I expected God to provide, but I didn’t necessarily have the faith that He would. These are two very different things.
So, back to last week…in the midst of my emotional reaction, and Shawn’s always balance to my imbalance I crossed a line. My husband is often the speaker of wise words. Rational is a part of his DNA, for this I’m grateful. He asked me one important question, and made one emphatic statement.
He asked how much I was okay with spending out of our own money for this trip. A thousand? Two thousand?
And he told me he thought it was too early for me to make a decision to back out.
I walked away from our conversation with swollen eyes and a heart that really did want to have faith.
Then…..the overwhelming happened.
We discovered that
we I had OVERestimated by international travel costs by $1,000. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!! I sat at my desk shaking. I couldn’t believe it. In the time it took to read an email from the travel agent, my trip costs had been cut by $1,000.
It’s a week later and I’m still in awe. On top of that the team was informed this week that our ground costs were less than what had originally been estimated.
I still have a significant amount to raise. We’ve paid for my airfare out of our savings, because we knew it was imperative for safety that I be on the same flights as the rest of the team. I have confidence that God will provide what I need. He keeps providing in small ways that leave me breathless at the unexpected.
I would love it if you chose to partner with me financially. I realize this is a difficult time of year for me to ask for financial donations. I realize it’s Christmas. I realize the economy is still lousy. But I promise you any amount helps. And by partnering with me you’re not paying for part of an airline ticket, you’re investing in the life of a young woman in Eastern Europe who grew up being told she was worth nothing.
To donate to my trip you can do so via my donation site at PrudyInMoldova.com. My Christmas Goodies Giveaway is still active, for every $25 donation you’re entered to win a box of homemade Christmas cookies & sweets.
Que the Peter Paul & Mary. Make your trays are up and locked. All carry-ons stowed.
Friday we purchased my plane tickets to Moldova. I’ll visit states and countries I’ve never visited. I’ll get my first stamp in my first passport and in the process of all of this cross at least a couple more things off my Before 40 List (#5 & #17).
It’s all becoming more real. I may have hyperventilated a little Friday afternoon when I saw my travel itinerary in my email. Saturday night we spent an hour at REI looking at backpacks, thermal underwear, hand warmers, lined beanies, etc. We keep thinking of small little details like calling our bank, money conversion, jet lag, and oh so much more. I honestly feel that at any given moment there are a million details running through my brain. It makes sleeping even more interesting than my normal sleep cycle already is. I explained to Shawn this morning that I’ve been trying to do a mental exercise of putting all of this in a lock box, putting said box on a shelf, and telling myself it’s all taken care of. Obviously it’s not but if I can trick my subconscious into believe that it is I can hopefully not stress as much over it and get a little more sleep.
So I have a request for you. I know many of my readers have traveled internationally. I’ve never been out of the country with the exception of Mexico & Canada, and I’m not sure those count. 😉
My longest flight was from Montreal to Phoenix during the day and the jet lag didn’t hit me until the next day. So what I’m looking for are your best, favorite, tried and true travel tips. We leave the US early evening and I plan to try and get some sleep on the plane. I’m planning to make a little sleep kit with my ear plugs, eye mask, sleep aids. Give me your best packing tips. We’re going during the middle of winter to a country whose current highs are the mid-20’s F, so a heavy coat and sweaters and boots are an absolute must in packing. That’s going to make 50 pounds add up really quickly.
So all you who are travel wise share with me what you got. If you post directly on Twitter, use hashtag: #PrudyMoldova
I’m still in need of funding for this trip. You can donate by visiting PrudyInMoldova.com.
PS…don’t forget there’s plenty of time to enter my Christmas Goodies give away.
Advent for me growing up was always in the secular sense. In fact I think I was an adult before I knew what advent really meant. As a child, it meant calenders filled with chocolate behind tiny cardboard doors and candy canes tied with yarn to felt. It meant counting down to Christmas day yes, but the day we opened gifts. My parents nor the church we attended taught on Advent, simply only the birth of Jesus itself, not the expectation.
Saturday night Shawn and I went to a Christmas concert. It’s a band we’ve seen three times now and look forward each year they bring their Christmas concert to town. On our way home, Shawn made a comment about how attending their concert is like a rest for us in the midst of a harrying season. A time when we can just stop.
My Advent word for Saturday was listen. How appropriate for attending a concert. I found myself so much of the time sitting with my eyes closed, leaning into the music. Listening not only with my ears and heart, but with my whole being. Feeling the echo of the drums reverberate within my soul.
Though it’s a worn out and tired invitation, and we wonder how we’re supposed to pause when there are cookies to be made, gifts to be bought, postal offices to be visited, family members to be tolerated, etc. – I invite you to pause this Advent season. To go outside and soak up the constellations and how they dazzle the night sky. To indulge in an evening without the naggings of technology.
To open your own Advent windows and allow the expected and the unexpected to come in.
0501 The stars shining faintly in the city lights of our neighborhood
0502 The Advent season
0503 Divine carols
0504 White Christmas
0505 My husband recognizing our need to pause
0506 Dinner at a favorite restaurant
0507 Pictures texted of my nephews
0508 Twitter conversations with a friend in Australia
0509 The constant encouragement I receive from my husband
0510 Christmas lights illuminating our darkened workspace
To join in opening your own #selfcare Advent windows, you can purchase Mandy’s eBook here.
*The winner of the original art piece is Christy!! I’ll get your piece out to you this week Christy. Congratulations!
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.