Google+ peggy aplSEEDS: March 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vigan on My Mind

Last weekend, my daughter was away on a field trip to Vigan, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is well-known for its cobblestone streets, and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine building design and construction with colonial European architecture.

It's a long way off from where we live and it's the first time she's been away with people I don't really know. Time flies with our children. One day they are little kids and the next thing you know, they are all grown up. But I guess, no matter how old my daughter is (she just turned nineteen), a part of me will always think of her as my baby. To keep myself from worrying about her safety, I read Psalm 91 and claim these promises...

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the L
ORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions,

And under His wings you may seek refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side

And ten thousand at your right hand,

it shall not approach you...

Here are some Vigan inspired ATCs I made using pen and colored pencils. I copied the designs from a newspaper clipping, but I asked my daughter to take lots of pictures in Vigan for more inspiration. I think the details of the houses make for lovely ATCs.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Running the Race

A few days ago, my son told us he was training to run a marathon. It reminded me of the days (more than 25 years ago!) I would get up early Sunday mornings to run with a group of all kinds of people, all of us hoping to run a marathon after training for one whole year. I would also run three more times during the week. If I missed those weekday runs, I wouldn't be able to keep up during the Sunday run.

Anyone who knows me would know that I am a most unlikely marathoner. A marathon is a long-distance foot race (according to Wikipedia, it has an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards). Me? Run 42 kilometers? I can just hear the words, "in your dreams!"

Well, I guess dreaming is a good place to start! I realized, as I joined this group, that for many of us, our dreams about running a marathon were not about winning the race or finishing first. It was simply about finishing. Period. It was about training and persevering to reach that goal. It was about doing it together with other people who had the same goal.

Come marathon day, I was ready to go and determined to finish. Pacing myself, I just kept running (ok, ok, it could have looked like we were walking). There were ups and downs in the road, and, after hours and hours, the most unlikely marathoner crossed the finish line. I did it!

Our life is much like this race. Many of us aren't called to "finish first", to do what other perceive to be big things for God. We aren't called to be popular evangelists or write bestsellers. Many of us are simply called to live our lives as parents, sisters, employees. Simple lives. But I believe that to persevere in living our simple lives in a way that is pleasing to God, to love God and be obedient to His ways is enough. To keep on keeping on.

To run the marathon and finish it, I listened well to my trainer's instructions and followed them. He told us to train by running at least this number of minutes for this number of days a week (it's been so long, I've forgotten the details!). He told us to drink water, to pace ourselves, to carbo load the day before, etc. So I did. And by doing so, I finished the race.

To live a life that is pleasing to God, it is so important to listen well to God's instructions and follow them. The bible is full of His loving instructions and His promises when we obey them. To live my life well, I need to know what God says about the situations I find myself in as a wife, a mother, and whatever my other roles are. He tells me how to love, to forgive, to train up my children. After almost 30 years of striving to be obedient to Him, I fully believe that obedience brings Blessing.

I ran the marathon with my Dad and my sister and brother. The people we trained with became familiar to us and we encouraged one another to keep on. Just like in the marathon, there are ups and downs in life, but, it is easier to live a life pleasing to God when you do it with other people who have the same goal. The world around us tells us different things about how we should live our life. Many times, it's the exact opposite of what the bible says. When we become part of a community, to have brothers and sisters in the Lord to support and encourage us, it is easier to listen to God's words rather than all the other voices around us.

And after all this, however simple and insignificant our lives may seem, I pray we will eventually be able to say, in the words from 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What Do You Have?

Do you have empty cereal boxes, tissue boxes, old playing cards, greeting cards, invitation cards or any similar material? You can use these as a base for your ATCs. Do you have old magazines, colorful junk mail or catalogs? You can use these for collages. Are there crayons, pastels and watercolors somewhere in the house? Or cloth remnants, lace and button? Whatever you have on hand, you can use to start with in creating your own originals.

You can also use 300gm watercolor paper or Bristol Board. And if the cardstock you have is too flimsy, you can glue a few layers together. I have used invitation cards cut to size and coated with gesso or extra Bristol board from my daughter's projects. My sister has also used the more affordable wall putty or ordinary acrylic primer that you buy from the hardware store. There is always something close by that you can use.

In life, we sometimes say we can't do certain things because we don't have enough time, or we don't have enough skill or talent or we don't have enough money. Sometimes we think we can't share or give to those around us because we think we don't have anything to give. But you know? I believe we all have something to give. The question we just need to ask ourselves is "What do I have?" Whatever I have, I can use to start with to create a better world around me.

Matthew 6:35-44 tells the story of how Jesus fed five thousand people.
"When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves."

Five loaves and two fish! Whatever we have, we can offer and God can use. What do you have?

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Winning ATC

I've just had another wonderful surprise! I joined the monthly contest in ATCs for All and guess what! I won for the month of February! My entry was a mixed media collage of two trees (The theme was "Trees"). Here's how I made it...

1. First I cut the card to standard ATC size -2.5" x 3.5"

2. Then I gave the card a coat of gesso. This makes for a nice texture when you color it.

3. I gave the card a light wash of acrylic (or was it watercolor?) in varying shades of light blue.

4. Then I made a light pencil sketch of the two tree trunks and branches. I wanted to let the trees form a heart since the month of February is Valentine's month.

5. I painted the trunks and branches with acrylic paints, trying to put darker shades on the right side of the trunk. When painting I like to have different shades, mixing a little bit of different colors so that it's not just one flat trunk with one color.

6. I painted book paper in varying shades of green (again) and cut the paper up in leaf shapes.

7. I pasted the leaves to the branches, making sure that I kept the heart clear of leaves.

8. I used colored pencils for the hills and background. Again, I used different colors. The gesso gives the colored pencil a nice texture. I also gave the edges a darker violet color to sort of frame the card.

9. Almost done, just a few flowers at the base of the trees and two birds in the distance, painted with acrylics. And although it can hardly be seen, a heart carving on the trunk. Inside the heart, it says "ATCs".

10. Then, I pasted a backing on the card with the title of the card "February Trees", my name, signature, and email address and the date.
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