Monday, April 28, 2008

A Spoonful Of Sugar

We recently got a clothesline at our house. As I helped my daughter hang her clothing on the line last week, she informed me that she has a very particular way to organize her clothing on the line. It's like file folders. All blue jeans and slacks on the first line. All short sleeved tops on the second line. Next, come the long sleeved shirts. Behind that is the sock and underwear row. (So the neighbors won't see her delicates. Smart thinking!) And finally, her sweatsuits, pajamas and jackets on the rear row. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
She was quite adamant that I hang her clothes in this and no other fashion, or I'd be relieved of my duties as "laundry hanger upper helper."

My middle daughter likes to hang her clothes like there's a party going on. Her dresses want to mambo with her jammies. Short and long sleeve shirts waltz together in the breeze, holding hands and bobbing up and down. Her socks would never dare to hang together in matched pairs- this IS a get-to-know-your-neighbor kind of affair, after all. She finds a pink knitted poncho and plays matchmaker with her green camoflauge cargo pants. The match made, they tango on the line for the rest of the afternoon. She twists the legs of her jeans tight so they can unwind and twirl from the clothespin- just because she thinks her jeans might enjoy the ride.

You would never, ever find either of these children hanging her clothes out to dry like her sister does it.

(Me? How do I hang out my clothes? Oh, I thought you'd never ask. I color code the clothes line. I wash all of our clothes in color groups so I've been having fun hanging out my many colors of the rainbow. But within the parameters of ROYGBV I'm also trying to be efficient and balance the weight on each line so things don't drag in the grass. Who wants to wash the same piece of clothing twice just because it dipped in the mud?! Not me. No sir.
Look and see... you can tell precisely where one wash load ends and another begins.)

I've been pleasantly surprised at how willing we've been to wash laundry around here lately- all because we get the giddy pleasure of hanging and organizing our belongings in the way that pleases us. (I have taken so many photos of our laundry hanging in the sunshine this week, that I know the neighbors are beginning to wonder.)

It all makes me think of Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar. It really does help the medicine go down.
In ev'ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game

And ev'ry task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It's very clear to see...
Julie Andrews in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins

And so I thought we might help each other here on SoulPerBlog.

What is your least favorite household, school, ministry or work-related task? Something you can't escape but find completely mundane? The thing you dread beyond all other things? The job that brings out the groans and full-body convulsions when you know it's "that time again"?

Share it here in the comment section we can help each other brainstorm a creative approach to our mundane tasks. Sooner than you can say "supercalifragilistikexpialidocious," our creative selves will be engaged in transforming those jobs we detest into...

A lark! A spree! It's very clear to see...

(and now you'll be humming for the rest of the day.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Feed Your Artist Soul

If you want to know how to use the SoulPerSuit concept to interact with spiritual truth, go here.

We have lots of new photos of cards that people have created as they've interacted with biblical truth (like the one you see here). You can click on any of the pictures you find here to see more.

If you want to do some creative activities in preparation for studying the Book of Colossians, go here.

Our Yahoo group for Colossians is full, but don't let that keep you from doing your own creative study of the book solo. Or grab some friends and go through it together. For a calendar to give you some structure, go here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Tool of Product- Pt. 2

A few weeks back, I started a small series about making SoulPerSuit cards and how they can be significant to your faith journey.
This week, I want to touch on how a SoulPerSuit card can actually be insignificant to your faith journey. There are some things that a SoulPerSuit card simply cannot do. Gotta keep it all in perspective, right?

Things SoulPerSuit cards are not:

-a substitute for active application
If the Lord is impressing on you the need to go to a brother and be reconciled, then don't make a SoulPerSuit card about reconciliation… go and be reconciled.
Perhaps you feel convicted to give over a certain area of your life to the Holy Spirit's control. I encourage you to not dance around the topic by fashioning a pretty SoulPerSuit card. Put yourself at the mercy of the Lord and do what He is prompting you to do.

(Between you and me, living out your faith and convictions is a much better SoulPerSuit "card" than anything you could dream up with a magazine collage.)

-an art contest
There is no such thing as a juried SoulPerSuit art show.
Your job is to get your thoughts out in a visual way that is meaningful to you.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. (Artistically? Mediocre. Meaningful? Oh yeah.)

- mandatory (a)
Can you believe I just said that?!?

If you aren't feeling inspired to make a card during a given week's SoulPerSuit lesson, skip it. There are no rules. Often times your ideas will bubble and brew in the background and by the time you get to Week 5 of the study, you'll have the perfect idea for Week 2's application point. You can go back and revisit any lesson at any time. There are no rules.

But wait, there's more to this story...

- mandatory (b)
You might happen to be one of those people who just. plain. can’t. ever. think. of. a. single. card. idea.
Even after Week 2 and Week 5 march by.
Don't lose hope.
If it freaks you out to attempt making a SoulPerSuit card out of thin air, I recommend starting out by tackling the Shuffle the Deck questions at the beginning of each SoulPerSuit lesson. While the Shuffles are meant to get your creative juices pumping as a lead in to the focus of the lesson, the Shuffles might be the only creative thing you feel you can manage for now. Focus on the creative things you can do, and let the rest fall away. There are no rules.

The great thing about those Shuffle the Deck questions is that the instructions and art supply parameters are provided for you. All you have to do is follow the directions.

-just a playing card with a picture glued to it
While of course, this may be what your SoulPerSuit card looks like, there's really an infinite variety of things you can do for SPS.
If you like to bake cakes, bake a cake.
If you knit, then knit.
A dancer? Choreograph a little something that springs from your time in the Scriptures. Rhonda has even suggested attaching artwork all over the side door of a Volkswagen Bug!
Whatever thing you like to do most, do that thing.
Whatever new thing you want to try, try that thing.
There are no rules.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Study Winner

The winner of the Cappuccino with Colossians study is Heather G.

Thanks to all who participated publicly and privately. Loved your answers!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Approval of Man & Greed

"Six billion people live in this world, and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me." – Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
by Jean Hatzfeld, 2005

"No one was going to their fields anymore. Why dig in the dirt when we were harvesting without working, eating our fill without growing a thing?" - Joseph-Désiré, Hutu participant in the Rwandan genocide

Machete Season
was written by Jean Hartzfeld, a French journalist who went to the prisons in Rwanda to interview ten Hutu men who took part in the genocide of 50,000 of their Tutsi neighbors. These men who had grown up together went to "work" with their machetes each morning in April and May of 1994 to slaughter every Tutsi they could hunt down. Hartzfeld wanted the story told by the killers so the book is almost entirely quotes by these ten men.

I read Machete Season a couple of years ago and started this post soon after. I wanted to try to explain what I'd learned about human nature because the words of these men struck at the heart of me. They seemed familiar. But I found it difficult to explain or admit how the words revealed me given the level of gruesome detail of their atrocities. Surely there is some significant difference between them and I.

Recently our outXast group finished reading Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. In the chapter entitled "Problems" he discusses the process of coming face-to-face with your own depravity. He's having a conversation with a friend about the genocide in the Congo and how horrible it is. Then his friend asks him, "Do you think you could do something like that, Don?" Miller really had to think about this and was able to explain what my prejudice couldn't.

You're cornered, you see. If you say yes, I am capable of such things, it makes you flawed, vulnerable, culpable, predisposed, responsible. If you say no, you've made yourself, your essence, your makeup better than those men. Not just the action of one man or even Hartzfeld's ten, but of entire nations of people who commit unspeakable acts! All people are created in the image of God. Just. Like. You. How do you explain that? Don's friend says, "I think it is easier to do bad things than good things. And there is something in that basic fact, some little clue to the meaning of the universe."

I think we have a very common problem in "civilized" societies and worse still, in Christendom, that it's Them and Us, that we're separate. But we've fooled ourselves into thinking we look so much better or at least disappear in the grand scheme of things if we're standing next to a guy with a bloody machete. Thing is, God knows the secrets of the heart; He doesn't need to see your hands.

The quotes below are translated from either French or Kinyarwanda, the Rwandan language. As I read the quotes from these, my human brothers, I was struck by the matter-of-fact way they speak belies the actual stories they're telling. How familiar their excuses sound, even to the point of complaining about how difficult "the work" was.


Alphonse: We slogged through the marshes with a crowd of people to kill. The mud came up to our ankles, sometimes to our knees. The sun hammered our skulls. The papyrus tore our shirts and the skin beneath. Colleagues were watching us. If they saw trembling, they sneered and called us cowards. If they saw hesitation, they grew angry and accused us of treachery. If they saw generosity, they scolded and called us old women. They were quick to abuse us.

In that situation, the jeering of colleagues is awful to overcome if it gets around your neighborhood. It is just the same in school or in the cabaret, but more serious in the marshes. This taunting is a poison in life. You try to protect yourself from it, of course. So you join the camp of the ones doing it. When the killings begin, you find it easier to ply the machete than to be stabbed by ridicule and contempt. This truth is impossible to understand for anyone who was not there beside us.

That is what I want to say. In the tumult of killings, stepping aside is not viable for a person, since that person would then find only his neighbors' backs to talk to about ordinary concerns. Being alone is too risky for us. So the person jumps up at the signal and takes part, even if the price is that bloody work you know.


Pio: At the start of a genocide, there is a cause, a reason, and people who find it worthwhile. The cause does not drift around there by accident; it's even fine-tuned by the intimidators: the desire to win the game for good. But the people it tempts are the ones who just happen to live there. And I was there, at home, when the temptation came calling. I'm not saying I was forced by Satan and the like. Through greed and obedience I found the cause worthwhile, and I ran down to the marshes. But if I had been born in Tanzania or in France, I would have been far away from the commotion and dirty bloodshed.

Simple people cannot resist a temptation like that, not without biblical rescue, not on the hills, anyway. Why? Because of the beautiful words of complete success. They win you over. Afterward the temptation cannot go to prison, so they imprison the people. And the temptation can certainly show up just as dreadful further along.

When someone sees what is in his own best interest come right up to him, and his colleagues as well, he loses no more time in waiting and hesitation, he no longer considers feelings, no longer hears pleas for mercy. He sees Evil in the form of Good and is content with it. He thinks of all he will gain for himself and his family until the end of his days. He follows his own best interest into the swamps.

Afterward he cleans himself of filthy mud and blood the way he downs a Primus. That is what I did. I'm not saying I am not at fault. But I am punished both for my mistake and for my unlucky fate.


Léopord: Through killing well, eating well, looting well, we felt so puffed up and important, we didn't even care about the presence of God. Those who say otherwise are half-witted liars. Some claim today that they sent up prayers during the killings. They're lying: no one ever heard an Ave Maria or the like, they're only trying to jump in front of their colleagues on line for repentance.

In truth, we thought that from then on we could manage for ourselves without God. The proof—we killed even on Sunday without ever noticing it. That's all.


Joseph-Désiré: It became a madness that went on all day by itself. You raced ahead or you got out of the way to escape being run over, but you followed the crowd.

The one who rushed off machete in hand, he listened to nothing anymore. He forgot everything, first of all his level of intelligence. Doing the same thing every day meant we didn't have to think about what we were doing. We went out and came back without having a single thought. We hunted because it was the order of the day, until the day was over. Our arms ruled our heads; in any case our heads no longer had their say.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Giveaway: Art Supplies

It seems that watercolor pencils have recently piqued the interest of several SoulPerSuiters so I scoured the art store for a beginner set to give away. This pack contains pencils in red, blue, green and black, and comes with a round tipped brush and a 4X6 " spiral bound pad of watercolor paper. It's the perfect size to travel to the park or stay home in the backyard on these nice spring days to experiment with paint.

Wondering what watercolor pencils can do? How they work? Here are a couple of in-house reports:
Graduate Level Coloring
Watercolor Greeting Cards

In this giveaway I'm also including a fresh deck of vintage-printed playing cards for your SoulPerSuit experience.

*This giveaway is open to everyone, even if you can't join us for Cappuccino with Colossians.

To enter, leave a comment on this post and tell me whether you're a traveler or a home-body. Will you be watercoloring in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, or right here in River City?

I'll post the winner's name on Friday, April 11th.

Winner: Art Supplies

Grateful Gramma is the winner of the set of watercolor pencils and vintage-print playing cards.
Congratulations, Ginnie!

E-mail me your address and I'll get these on their way to you.
soulpererin at yahoo dot com

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Free Giveaway

Did you notice the announcement (above) about the new Yahoo group we're forming for the next Colossians study? Well, here's your chance to win a copy of Cappuccino with Colossians.

Just leave a comment, and we'll hold a drawing next Friday for the winner. What should you say? Pretend you're an author whose story begins with this sentence: "It would surprise even my friends if they knew what I had hidden in my closet." For your comment: Use your imagination and tell one thing your character is hiding and why.

Arts in the Church

What makes a successful artist? Watch this short video...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Announcement: Cappuccino with Colossians

Registration is now open for the next SoulPerSuit group going through Sandra Glahn's book, Cappuccino with Colossians

If you're interested in joining this study art group, here are some things you need to know:

- Contrary to what I wrote here before, we are NOT hosting the group on ShoutLife. Sorry to misinform you, but after examining the technical details, we decided to go back to the mostly-trustworthy but at least very-familiar Yahoo group. So, if you 'd like to join the discussion, click the purple button on the right.

- This SoulPerSuit group is limited to 10 participants, so if you'd like to join the discussion, click the purple button on the right.

-Our group discussion will begin on April 13 and run for 9 weeks. Get yourself a copy of Cappuccino with Colossians, break out your deck of playing cards, the scissors and glue sticks, and click the purple button on the right.