Sunday, November 21, 2004

How Great Is Our God

My three most recent cards have dealt with my own journey of faith in Christ. They are a glimpse of the key times in my life when I came to a deeper understanding of God. There is no way I could ever plumb the depths of our Great God, but I tried to capture a little bit of it. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter was capturing a glimpse of our Great God through my cards as well. My cards about MY journey, were helping her on HER journey.

Ellie is the type of kid who thinks outside the box from the moment she wakes up in the morning. She is the one that is most likely to embarass me, anger me, make me laugh so hard I cry, and make me really cry- all in the span of five minutes. She fancies herself an artist, and truth be told, she has a real knack for grasping some pretty nebulous ideas. My husband has dubbed her, The Philospher. Embracing life with creativity and flair is Ellie's cup of tea. Have I ever mentioned that she has a will like a Barcelona bull? ;)

Ellie, the artist, ambled into the computer room one day as I had my SPS cards spread out beside me. She has always been interested in my "card art project," as it is known around here, and she often interviews me about whatever card I happen to be working on at the moment. I was busily typing my explaination for I Was Without (, when she peeped over my shoulder. "Hi Mama. What are you doing? Is that Anna? And why is she on the moon?"

She picked up another one,
And another, (

Through the course of enjoying and explaining 3-4 of my SPS cards with Ellie, I was able to engage her in a way that was tailor-made to her sensitivites (creativity, art, symbolism). And discussing my personal journey to God became a natural door to discussing her own journey to God. She's heard about Jesus in Sunday School, we talk on a daily basis about trusting Christ, she knows most of the"right" answers to all the important questions... but she hadn't made that leap of faith for herself. Ellie, and her will, were going to do it in her own time and in her own way. Before she was going to trust this Jesus-guy she still had questions she wanted answers to, concepts she hadn't nailed down, cogs and wheels in that little four year old brain that needed to be greased. I never imagined that Soul Per Suit would be that grease.

I was out of town last weekend at a wedding, and as Steve gave me "The Report" (ie: who ate their dinner, who scored a goal at soccer, what got spilled on the carpet- all the things that happened while I was gone), he tossed in... "Oh, and Ellie prayed to receive Christ last night."

I have no pithy ending for this blog entry. Just the words to the chorus we sang in church this morning,

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Life Happens (LH)

I’m sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. Encouragement and support are so important to the process of SPS. Without weekly meetings, seeing new information on the web site and frequent, “in touch” blog postings keep us connected and create our cyber community. For all my enthusiasm and intentions, I have not been able to do this, as often as I would like. I love doing the web site, the blog and SPS. I am a geek and artist and my essence yearns to spend my every waking moment getting all these great ideas out of my redheaded noggin onto the www.

(Now this is where I list all the LH events that have poked small little holes in the feeble wall holding my life together. Suddenly, you notice the water is above your knees and you’re asking yourself, “When did this happen?”)

I work a 40-hour a week job. Of course, this rarely means 40 hours. I spent a short time in Nashville when my mother was sick. She’s doing very well now, PG. My husband is in school and that puts a funny twist on things. I have relatives coming into town next week. And my own health issues are a constant. Of course, there’s always laundry, groceries, house cleaning, disabled cars, weddings, birthdays, funerals, hospital visits, church meetings, cooking, etc.

Despite all this, I’m determined to squeeze in a couple of good things like watching a movie with my husband, riding my bike, reading a magazine, praying, calling a friend, writing a note, or studying my bible. Doing this, though, resembles trying to shove one more pair of jeans into a washing machine that already has 20 pair in it. None of them get done well, I get stressed out trying to do it and everything has to be done all over again anyway.

My lament is the big “T”: TIME. Although I’m proud at how often I say “no”, even to little things, there’s never enough T. I remember when I was sitting in the airport waiting to catch my flight to Nashville. I had about an hour and I began to think of all the things I could get done in an hour if I were at home. But in an airport, it’s just T out the window.

I hadn’t heard from Sandi, our resident writer, in quite a while so I wrote to her the other night. I knew the signs and could predict the diagnosis: she was having a severe T deficiency. But I wanted her to know I was thinking about her and that she was missed. Her reply e-mail read like a lament so I asked her if I could copy it here:

I wonder how in the world I'm so swamped when I've signed up to do so little! I'm not writing a book. I'm teaching only one class. I'm not taking a class. I'm just reviewing Greek for my entrance exam. And I'm editing a quarterly magazine, which has been ridiculously complicated this time around.

I spent hours today online answering students' questions and entering grades. My husband was gone 4 days last week, so I was single parenting. On Thu my niece and her hubby fly in for 4 days. Some of my being swamped had to do with losing the motherboard on my computer and shopping, buying, waiting for, and installing everything for the new computer.

Anyway, I'm frustrated with what appears to be the complete inability to get ahead on anything. Part of it was that I had two interns signed up to help me this semester and then both ended up doing their own projects that took so much time they didn't have time to help me. So I was spending time supervising them and getting nothing in return--except two little certificates to a book store...

I know that Life is Happening for everyone. The good thing is that SPS is structured for when LH. Although meeting in person on a weekly or monthly basis might be more motivating, the web site is there all hours of the day and night. It’s never ahead of you or waiting for you to catch up. You can visit it when you’re in Nashville visiting your mother, when you’re over at a friend’s house, or when you’re at work. It meets you where you are. And it waits for you. I am committed to SPS and I will make sure that it is here for you on that day when you’re determined to squeeze in at least one thing for yourself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Poopy Panty Lament Part 2

Arrrgh! God, she has done it again.

(in my whiniest voice) She went for so long without pooping in her panties. I almost dared to hope that we were past this childhood hurdle. But then... today happened. (sigh)

That will. That stinkin' iron will. That will that I hope will one day make her a strong voice for You. That will that won't be swayed by her peers, or the media, or what "sounds right." That will that says, "I will do what I will do." That will that is somehow, in some way, a reflection of Your nature. (Be it warped and tainted by sin.)

That will is pooping in her panties again!

I am tired. I don't want to deal with this again. I just don't want to. I just don't. Can't you think of more valuable ways for me to be spending my time? Can't you come up with some better way to test my faith in You? Something more comfortable and convenient? Something that smells nicer? Couldn't You? Won't You? PLEASE?

I have not lost my temper yet, thank you for that. I am coming to You at the first sign of trouble, thank you for that too. But God, I just want to flee to Tarshish! I know You are compassionate and loving. I know this is what you have called me to do today. But I want out of this giant fish I'm riding in. It smells like... well... take a whiff. You say that you are my Good Shepherd and that anywhere you lead me is a green pasture, full of the stuff I need to make my spiritual life grow and flourish. This "green pasture" looks pretty questionable to me. I like that last pasture we were in much better. You know, the one with clean panties and the happy children. The one that looked like a travel poster for Tarshish. This here is a big, stinky, fish-in-panties taking me to Ninevah.

God of compassion and grace. God of strength and provision. My Shepherd. These poopy panties are my green pasture because You have led me here. I have to trust that. Help me to trust that. Help me to see your boundaries for my life. Help me to stay here in this pasture and not jump the fence and run for Tarshish. Let me see my little Ninevite as a fellow sheep of Your pasture.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

SPS Schedule Change

Just to let you all know, we're adding one more 3-week cycle to the Lament study. This means we'll be posting the last Lament lesson on 11/22/04.

Our apologies if the content of the studies has had you confused. (That hammering and sawing you hear in the background is the sound of three queens in the workshop, learning on the job.) The updated schedule is posted on the SPS calendar.

*Be sure to visit the Lament Gallery to see some of the cards from the Lament 1 & 2.* -Erin

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Queens of the Deck

I’ve been out of pocket for about a week. I was taking care of my mother who had to quickly have surgery. Thankfully, everything is turning out great.

I’m still trying to catch up. Hopefully I can put some laments down from the past week but I definitely wanted to get back here and write to you guys first.

I want to do a brief introduction of the three women behind SPS.

SPS started off as an idea I had to do an art project with Erin. But Erin was so enthusiastic about the idea that she couldn’t keep it to herself. The first SPS was done by a group of 8 from different parts of the country.

After the first SPS was so successful, Erin decided to share it with our friend Sandi. Her enthusiasm matched Erin’s and her talents complimented ours so well that Sandi joined us and we became the three queens of the SPS deck.
Queen of Diamonds Simply put, SPS is being shared with all of you because of the potential Erin saw in it. Shuffle the Deck, Ice Breakers, and Thought Provokers were Erin’s idea and they are what define SPS. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. degree in Studio Art. Her main concentration was in drawing, but she rounded out her interests with courses in art history, ceramics, sculpture, painting and design.

You can see Erin’s gifts in many aspects of SPS. Her creative ideas seem endless when coming up with Ice Breakers and Shuffle the Deck. She is a captivating writer and has a maturity for explaining God’s word in everyday situations. She is always sensitive about communicating SPS so that it’s easy to understand and fun to do. She is also a great promoter. For Erin, the more the merrier!

Queen of Spades Sandi is a treasure and we are so lucky to have her. She has a desire to find effective tools to reach and communicate the Good News and she saw SPS as one of those tools. She is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, where she teaches. She also edits the school’s award-winning magazine, Kindred Spirit.

Being a successful and accomplished writer and scholar, Sandi was able to fill-in the final piece of the SPS structure by writing a bible study for it (what we call Deal the Cards and Play Your Hand) . Her knowledge and experience in the publishing world have opened doors we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. Those of you who have had the honor know she is a great speaker and teacher. You also soon discover Sandi’s compassion for women’s and family issues and her sincere encouragement.

Queen of Hearts And there’s me. In innocence (and ignorance) SPS originated with me. Although my intentions were to enrich my relationship with my friend, SPS was meant for a bigger audience. My talents lie in graphic design and programming and in every way it is undeniable that I am a geek. I got a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and in Mathematics from Western Kentucky University.

I designed the web site and the SPS logo. I got the idea of using playing cards from the round robin art projects I read about in my art magazines. I love using technology and multi-media to communicate and share ideas in the clearest and simplest way. I’m also an information junky and spend a lot of time reading and researching technology and our culture.

But even with the three of us, Diamonds, Spades and Hearts, the deck is not complete. The author and master of SPS is the King of Clubs, Yahweh, and we give Him the glory.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

10 Ways I Find to Be Content

It's one of the "Shuffling the Deck" questions for Lament: Lesson 2. I don't know if my answers say that I'm easily contented, or just very shallow.

- Knowing there is still $ on my Visa Buxx card.
- Knowing that I don't have to do laundry AT ALL this week and we'll still have enough clean clothes.
- Cleaning out our clutter to cart it off to the church garage sale.
- Even though I've gained "baby weight," have wild hair and don't usually have time to put on makeup, my husband still chooses me.
- My husband is actively pursuing his own spiritual growth and leading our family spiritually.
- Lazing in the backyard with my kids.
- Listening to really well-crafted music.
- Watching my infant fall asleep in my arms.
- Doing things together with my husband.
- A grande mocha from Starbucks.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Group Laments

I want to share some examples of laments that groups of women have written together. Do you notice any familiar themes?

Have mercy on me, My God—My day is not my own.
The needs of others consume me.
Every minute, every hour, the needs and cares of others weigh heavily on me!
I turn—I see laundry, a car waiting to be driven, dishes to be done. I wear the robes of judge, mediator, comforter, nurturer, teacher, learner. (Did I agree to all of this?)
God, deliver me from the tyranny of the urgent. Help me discern the significant from that which steals my peace and joy!
Lord, remind me to stop in the midst of business and to look to You for direction and purpose.

God, quiet my spirit so that I may hear Your voice and praise Your name.
You have heard me and know my heart and placed Your Spirit within me.

Your word is a lamp to my feet. Your love never fails!

Help, Lord, I’ve only got a minute…
So many things have to be done.
I have unfinished projects, places to go, people to see, deadlines, laundry, people to feed, etc., etc., etc., and no time to do it all! …and what was that You wanted me to do…?
I need relief now!

You drew near when I called on you. You said, "Do not fear! Be still and know I am God."
I can cast all my cares on You, Lord—You are a Mighty God!

Give us a break! We need a time out! We are tired and there is never enough time.
Our culture tells us that busyness and over-scheduling is The American Way.
At every turn we feel bombarded with obligations and commitments.
When will it end? The people surrounding us keep pushing sign-up sheets in our faces.
If we don’t do it, Lord, who will? If it’s not done now, then when?
O Lord, we long to feel your peace, Your rest.

Grant us a nap, a relaxing moment, allow us to ENJOY life rather than SURVIVE it.
Thank you that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.
We know that a quiet and peaceful spirit will be granted to us if we seek your kingdom before all.
Lord, You are before all things (Christmas parties, housework, and Daytimers included) and "in YOU [not US] all things hold together."

Lord, help us! We are drowning, our duties are many and our minutes are few.
We are overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities before us.
We try to please men instead of You. We are anxious, worried, and burdened.
Help us to choose the better thing, to order our days, to seek time with You.
Open our spirits to Your leading and give us hearts that yearn for You. We long to rest in You.
We are overwhelmed, Lord. You stop the hands of time and allow us a moment to refresh.
Thank you for taking pleasure in our pleas, for delighting in us when we come into your presence,

and for filling our hearts with thanks.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Post Your Lament Here

I am interested to read the variety of ailments and difficulties that plague us SPSer's. Here's a recent one from me:

Poopy Panty Lament
Make her stop! Change her heart! Put the poop in the potty!! My energy is gone, my resolve is wilted. How long will she continue to oppose me? How long will she insist on inconveniencing all of us?
My 4 year old daughter, the precious gift from your hand, continues to poop in her panties. She is fully capable of using the toilet, but in her iron will and laziness she chooses to use her panties like a diaper. We were struggling with the exact same thing a year ago. A year ago! In one year, we have seemingly made no progress in potty training. She is so intelligent, so advanced, so keen in so many ways; why oh why does she want to drag the potty training out for an eternity?
Father, you know her heart and her mind, you know what she is thinking when she does this, you know what it will take to make her want to change. Steve and I have tried everything we know, we are at the end of our wisdom. From the creative to the punitive, nothing has seemed to make a dent in this child’s perspective. Move in her heart, convict her of her rebellion and laziness, show her the practical benefits of keeping herself clean (after all, she is a very pragmatic thinker). Show Steve and me how to love her despite her sin, show me how I am so like her in so many ways and how you must parent me in my laziness and disobedience.
I trust we will not struggle with poopy panties forever. I know that someday this will seem like an insignificant dot on the eternal timeline. Enable me to show her Your faithfulness by loving her in spite of her disobedience.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Ask Us Your Questions

Ok, we're a week and a half into Lament and I KNOW you all have got to have some questions.

The Soul Per Suit website is not a completed work- we're still ironing out the kinks and feeling our way through the darkness in several areas. So this is where you guys and gals come in. If you have a question or something isn't clear, please ask! We won't know how to clarify or improve things unless someone says they don't get it. And chances are that someone else is wondering the same thing. So ask!

I'll attempt to address a few of the questions I've heard floating around this week.

I said I'd join the Lament study, but what exactly am I supposed to be doing?
Our concept with Soul Per Suit is a three-pronged approach. First, the Bible Study on Lament. Second, communicating your thoughts and feelings on the blog or discussing them in your small group. Third, making a card to journal about what God is saying to you through this Lament study (or what you want to say to God). If you leave out any of these three elements, you'll be missing a big part of what Soul Per Suit is meant to be- a Bible based (Bible Study), creative journaling (card art) project done in the context of community (blog/small group).

Every three weeks or so, the next installment in the Lament series will be posted to the SPS website and you can start the three prongs all over again.

That said... you may find that a certain lesson really resonates with you and you'd like to spend more than three weeks on it. Great! You might not get much out of a particular lesson and want to move on right away. Hey, fine. There is nothing that says you have to keep to a calendar. Make one card, make fifteen cards. You don't even have to stay on the topic of Lament. We did this project on a retreat once, and there was a gal that had recently gotten pregnant after 2 years of infertility treatments. She chose to make a card expressing her GRATITUDE to God, even though the weekend's theme was Lament. The cards are there for you and your particular situation. Use them as you will. *TaNR*

What in the world is a BLOG and why do we need one?
A blog, to the best of my understanding, is a glorified computer bulletin board. The first time we did an SPS group, all the participants exchanged E-mail addresses. We discovered that it is a thrill to talk with other people working on the same journaling project, but E-mail limits the conversation to only 2 people. With a blog, everyone benefits from the conversation. And everyone can contribute to the conversation. We all have experiences and insights to add, Scripture or songs that we "stumble" upon as God leads us on this journey, even tips and
techniques to share about making cards.
You don't know this, but... I have heard from approximately 14 of you that you'd like to join the Soul Per Suit Lament study. And you thought you were the only one here! :) We want to hear your laments, to see your cards, and to know who you are. Please share yourself with us on SoulPerBlog!

Ok, I see the importance of the Blog. How do I leave comments?
Uh, Rhonda. Help! (I think Rhonda has it set up now so that all you have to do is click "comment" and you can leave a comment. No need to set up an account.)

I REALLY can't draw or paint, what else do I do with my cards?
SPS is not about that at all. Find someone who CAN draw and paint and use their stuff. Clip words and pictures out of magazines, use photographs, go to museum and art websites, and read Rhonda's article called "Refrigerator Art.

Include any other questions you have as a Comment to this thread. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Call Me Jonah

Well, I was hoping that I could write a lament like King David's, rising out of noble and righteous circumstances. "Oh Lord, they are trying to kill me! What have I done to them? Day and night they curse Your name. They do what they see fit with no fear of punishment. Strike them down for your name's sake. Protect me, your servant, from the evil ones." Etc. etc.

Turns out that I am more like Jonah- disobedient, judgemental, whiny, and lamenting the most irrational things.

Jonah, gotta love him, takes off running in the OTHER direction when God tells him to go to Ninevah. Ok, direct word from the Lord, and he goes 180 degrees in reverse. Why? The Ninevites were cruel and wicked people. Known and feared for their brutality, in fact. Not a soul there recognized Jehovah as Lord of their lives. According to VeggieTales, all they wanted to do was slap each other with fish all day. That's not being very nice.

So, God tells Erin to "raise up your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord." And what did I do today? I went 180 degrees in reverse. Why? Because my kids are NINEVITES! They don't clean up after themselves, they demand more than I can give, they throw temper tantrums, some of them take YEARS to potty train, they wake me up in the middle of the night, they wake me up early in the morning, they ask a constant stream of questions and don't listen for the answer, which means they ask that very same question 2 minutes later... I have yet to see any severed heads impailed on pikes around the walls of the playroom, nevertheless they are a micro- Ninevah. I can hear Jonah now, "I'm not going in there! They'll slap me with fish!"

And yet God, gracious God, understands Jonah's reluctance (though He doesn't tolerate his disobedience) and sends Jonah a little motivator. Ok, a big motivator. 2 of 'em. A storm to rival Alex, Charley, Frances and Ivan combined, and a big fish. I've ridden in the belly of that fish enough times you'd think I would get tired of smelling so bad. But I keep trying to run away from the task God has set before me in parenting. I just wanna go to Tarshish. I just want a vacation on a remote island where the palm trees sway and the waves gently lap the shore. Where no little midget voices clamor at me from dawn 'til dusk. Just a little vacation, that's all I ask. (Do you know what cracks me up? The moment I DO get a break from my kids, I start to miss them. Motherhood makes you so whack-o.)

Ok, so not only does Jonah have be toted back to Ninevah by an instrument of the Lord, he cops an attitude once he gets there. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah. "Well, I'll tell them your message Lord, but I won't do it with a smile on my face or a tear in my eye. And I am NOT going to stick around to help them figure out how to repent! You never said anything about showing compassion. I've got my own agenda to stick to."
Erin, Erin, Erin. "I'll raise these kids Lord, but I'm not going to give 100% to them. If they act right and make my life convenient, then we might be able to get along alright. But if they don't stop asking me questions and wearing me down, I'm just marching right out of here and going out for coffee and cheesecake. After all, I deserve it after all this fish slapping and ruckus."

The most convicting part of Jonah's history is his attitude once he leaves Ninevah. He finds a high spot on a hill "watch it burn." Somehow, he feels justified in getting miffed when God shows compassion and grace on Ninevah- whose people have, indeed, repented. Not only that, when God sends the worm to peel back another layer of Jonah's disillusionment, his response is, "Kill me now. I am angry enough to die." To die? DIE?! Over God showing GRACE to lost people?! Over a stupid withered VINE?! Jonah, you'd DIE over THAT?!?! C'mon!

Oops, wait. Just this morning I hit the roof when Ellie spilled the syrup. Oh, and I hollered at the girls for annoying their baby sister. And then there was that incident where I just threw up my hands in frustration. My attitude said, "I'm ready to die. Just kill me now. I can't bear another moment with the noise level and the commotion around here. The baby is fussing, the syrup is dripping everywhere and that's just the end of things."

"But the LORD said, 'You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?' " Jonah 4:10-11 Jonah had lost the big picture. He let his own desire for convenience and his own agenda rule his life. He was irrational. He was furious. It became all about Jonah, rather than all about GOD. And God's response was to rationally and lovingly point out the facts- "You didn't make the plant. You didn't kill the plant. You have no claim over the plant. I made the plant. I killed the plant. It was my plant. I made the Ninevites. I have claim to their souls. You are more consumed with that silly plant than you are with a lost, doomed and confused people. They don't know their right hand from their left and yet you wanna sit up here and scream at me for taking away your SHADE?"

Ellie was saying to me in the car today, "Look, Mommy. This is my right hand and this is my left hand. Am I right?" Boy, you want to talk about a Scripture hitting home? zing! That sweet girl that dribbled syrup all over herself and the table does not know her spiritual right hand from her left. Why am I focusing on the syrup? There are Ninevites living in my own home, eating at my table, peppering me with questions all day long. And God wants me to give them a message. I really need to get beyond the fish slapping and the withering vines and start telling (and showing) my Ninevites about repentance and grace.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

How to send us your pictures?

Hello, Valerie! It is so WONDERFUL to have you on board.

Valerie asked a good question. As you make cards during your SPS experience, we would love it if you would share them with the rest of the SPS community. Of course, I understand that there will be some cards that are too personal to share. But if you send me your card, I will assume it is o.k . to publish it on the web site.

Simply e-mail me your cards at soulpersuit at soulpersuitdotcom. I will format them and add them to the Lament gallery ( And please, please, please tell me about your card so I can include that also.

You also do not have to make a card. You can write a poem or a lament or a song. You can take photographs or make a video. If you can e-mail it to me, I'll get it in the gallery.

I'll be adding more stuff to the web site this weekend and I hope to meet all of you eventually here in the blog.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Lament is launched

SPS is a bible based, full sensory, creative experience that explores, expresses, discovers and internalizes the mysteries of our relationship with God.

The creators of SPS believe that everyone is creative because God is a creator. We want individuals to rediscover and use their creative nature in their pursuit of understanding and experiencing these God mysteries.

The first topic our on-line SoulPerSuit (SPS) community will explore is Lament (griping in the spirit). If you don't know anything about SPS, here's how to get started.

- Go to the web site ( and read "About SPS" and "How to SPS"
- Visit the card art galleries to see how it's done.

Besides me, the geek, there are two other very creative minds behind SPS: Erin the artist & Sandi the writer. We look forward to getting to know you.

We also very much want to see the card art you create as a result of doing Lament SPS-style. Please photograph or scan your cards and send them to us via the web site.