60-Second Sanctuary is here!

My book, 60-Second Sanctuary, launches today! If you’d like a copy, please buy one now for $6 on Amazon.

dtp_7139330_USER_CONTENT_0This book grew out of my book from last fall, Creative Women’s Devotional (also on Amazon). People told me, “I liked your book, even though I don’t crochet,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not Christian,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not a woman! 😀 ”

After visiting with readers like this, I felt the need to write a devotional that connected us to the Spirit in a quick and open-ended way.

In my new book, 60-Second Sanctuary, every single devotion only takes a moment to practice. If you are busy but feel a longing to strengthen your creative and spiritual side, this book is made for you!

I would like to give a special thanks to my endorsers, Nick Larson and Jenny McGee, who wrote these words about my book.

“We all have but a few minutes a day. I know as a young parent and busy pastor that I often have the urge to ignore enriching my creative side because I feel too busy. Genevieve’s 60-Second Sanctuary is a fantastic tool to help focus my creative God spark and is such a grounded, plausible, inspirational tool that can make an impact in your life.”

—Nick Larson, associate pastor at Broadway Christian Church
and co-author of Never Pray Again

 

 

“I highly recommend these daily devotions because they bring you right to the heart of God. You can’t help but have a spiritual and creative transformation as you journey through this book.”

—Jenny McGee, abstract painter, Azulbyjennymcgee.com

I want to thank my family. My son, Derek, who is only in high school, both photographed and designed the cover. He’s way too talented for one person. If you need photos in the CoMo area, contact him. My husband, Logan, was master tea-maker and cheerleader.

❤ Thank you to the many friends and readers who encourage me with notes, gifts, meals, hugs, prayers and squeals when they see me. I love you! You keep me going more than you know!

Tonight (Wednesday) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. (central) I am having an online book launch party on Facebook if you’re interested. What’s an online book launch party? I will post some behind-the-scenes photos of my inspiration, show an excerpt of my raw writing and generally celebrate this happy day! What do I need to do at an online book party? Nothing! Like and comment if you want. Using an event is a way for me to talk about the book to my friends who want to hear about it and not add clutter to the main news feed for friends who aren’t interested. So if you like book stuff, then please join!

As always, God bless you today and always. Wherever the Spirit is leading you, I hope you will follow and find your next adventure. This book has been an adventure for me with ups and downs but a worthwhile journey. I know now I can travel lighter as I work on my next book (a short story memoir about yarn things!)

PS—I hope you’ll let me know how you like 60-Second Sanctuary! If you find it helpful, would you please leave a review on Amazon or on your social media? I’m an indie author and every mention helps the book find its way to new readers. Thanks! ❤

Light for the New Year

home

2014 was a good and bright year! One of the highlights was the book signing in September. I had fun seeing everyone and getting a taste of celebrity (and that is all I need…just a taste).

If you remember my 2014 resolution, I did well with my singing and sang almost every day. My husband was sweet enough to sing with me. The song acted as a way to start the day with a reminder of what matters. It’s not the race to be fastest on the highway or be most powerful but what matters is a humble, thankful heart. Life can be as simple as I make it.

An ongoing source of joy was time with family, friends and animals. Our home is a place of sanctuary and peace for me. I’m grateful to learn that I made a difference in people’s lives, as shown in this story by a former student of mine, A profile in how to live a joyful life: Genevieve Howard.

My plans for 2015 include

  • Edit my story that I wrote during NaNoWriMo and publish it
  • Improve my physical health so I’m more flexible and vibrant
  • Finish my Creative Women’s Devotional and publish it
  • Encourage others in their faith, creativity and hope

My most popular posts of 2014

  1. Four points of prayer shawls
  2. If Mother’s Day hurts
  3. Box baby and my brother’s camera
  4. What happens when a pastor, a poet and an artist walk in a house?
  5. Say the wrong thing

I’m glad to see these are the most popular. They were all close to my heart: prayer, crochet, honesty, my family and my writing. Thank you for your support of my blog.

I wish you loving people, interesting adventures, a lightness of spirit and health in the coming year.

May God bless you!

What happens when a pastor, a poet and an artist walk in a house?

Six Doors to the Seventh DimensionA book!

Our newly published book is called Six Doors to the Seventh Dimension. It explores spirituality through the metaphor of a house offering a guided tour complete with poetic responses and artistic interpretations.

Upcoming events

Listen for us on the David Lile Radio Show on KFRU this Thursday, Aug. 21 at 8:30 a.m.

Become a Six Doors housemate at our official book launch party Friday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Columbia Art League. Visit with us while enjoying wine and cheese. We will autograph copies and read excerpts. Our event is free and open to the public. See you there!

About the authors

You already know me, so I would like to say a bit about my friends. I recently asked them six questions about Six Doors.

Tim

Tim Carson
Tim Carson. Photo by Dave McGee.

Tim Carson is the narrator of the book. He is a bold person with a strong voice in his speaking, singing and written word. With a wonder and curiosity, he explores big ideas. He initiates change in people: how they think and feel and act. He makes new things happen, like this book as an example! One of the best huggers I have ever known, he does people good with his expressiveness and warm heart. He is willing to stand in the mystery.

Why did you decide to collaborate on this book?
I had a recent experience with collaboration through our local art league—one that paired writers with artists. The outcomes were something richer and more unexpected than any solo effort could create. So when the idea for Six Doors was hatched, I thought, why not? I am so thankful for the gift of that insight!

What was the hardest part of making this book?
The collaborative piece took more time, but I wouldn’t consider it hard. In fact, that was part of the fun. If you are willing to let go of some control, the outcome can be much better than any one person imagined.

For me, in my portion, the hardest part came as I shifted from the early part of the narrative that is pretty discursive to the final chapter that is clearly not. I had to change the voice and finding the way to do that without disrupting the flow was difficult. My fellow creators knew this was hard for me. They suffered with me in my relative confusion at that point and provided council in the ways they could.

Give us insight into what you think is different about this book.
The obvious difference that sets this book apart from so many others is the collaborative outcome itself. But there is also the schema of the house and its six doors. Using geographic referents is not new; it is found in classic literature from Dante to Chaucer to Merton. But the way that we used a physical schema—a house— to describe our anthropology and spiritual dimension beyond that does hold, I think, something new or at least fresh.

What are you working on now?
I’m working with an editor to provide a second edition manuscript to the publisher for my earlier book, The Square Root of God. Wipf & Stock should release it before the end of this calendar year.

How can we connect with you?
You could follow my blog at vitalwholeness.wordpress.com.

Any final tips for my readers on how to keep creativity flowing?
Look at the same thing from a different angle. Just because you’ve looked at the rose in the morning, it does not mean that it will appear the same in the afternoon or under the aspect of moonlight.

Set your mind and heart free from what you thought you had to create. Let your subconscious work for you, writing or creating after sleep, free-floating in the shower, piecing things together as you think of nothing beholding the river.

Jenny

Jenny McGee
Jenny McGee. Photo by Dave McGee.

Jenny McGee made the art in the book. With tender vulnerability, she dares to go beyond words into the places of deepest feelings and deepest questions. She wants to see people with clear and bright eyes. She delights in her children and encourages them to be true to themselves. Delicate and strong, she is both fine fluttering branches and deep roots anchored in the nourishing earth of her faith. Healer-artist-interpreter Jenny is the whole tree.

Why did you decide to collaborate on this book?
Collaborating on this book was a chance to grow spiritually free with two people I highly respect and also offer others a chance to heal and journey through the combination of message, artwork and poetry.

What was the hardest part of making this book?
The hardest part of making the book was facing my own judgments about the artwork. I had to work hard on silencing the critic inside of myself and trust that my visual interpretation of the message was successful. During the process I tried hard not to critique or judge the artwork so that my hand felt free and the artwork could evolve unrestricted.

Give us insight into what you think is different about this book.
This book is unique because it offers its readers three unique interpretations of the story. Everyone is invited into this house and welcome to unveil its dimensions. It is like three books in one with each part interconnected to the other.

What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a large custom painting for a family in Kansas City. It will be a triptych that will hang in their living room and is an expression of them and their uniqueness as a family.

How can we connect with you?
Please connect with me at www.jennymcgeeart.com

Any final tips for my readers on how to keep creativity flowing?
To keep the creativity flowing I would suggest being keenly aware of the critics in your head and what they are saying to you. Once you identified them, whoever they are and what they are saying to you, it is time to kick them out of your house. One way to do so is to close your eyes and imagine what they look like. Hand them a bunch of imaginary flowers and say, “Good-bye, you are no longer welcome in my life. Take these roses and you may never come back.”

Time to make your (mid) year resolutions!

Pixie pony

Ready, set, reset!

Pixie ponyI recently heard a thought-provoking speech in my Toastmaster’s club by a friend about her plan to make mid-year resolutions. She pointed out that many businesses have July 1 as the start of their fiscal year. It makes sense that now is a natural time to assess where we are and where we want to be by the time the holidays roll around. We still have a chance to make changes before 2014 goes down in history.

You might remember my New Year resolution. Have I met my goal? Yes! I sing every day. I make the space for it during my long commute. My husband and I drive in together, and we sing in the car. We take turns who sings flat and who sings sharp. Honk next time you see us, the Singing Howards!

On singing Simple Gifts every day, he says, “I love it. It’s bonding for us, and a nice reminder not to try so hard all the time.”

I agree. I find the message of the song grounding. It acts an anchor for my spirit. My life now is a life in motion: fetching groceries, going or coming from work, running an errand or hurrying on my way to an activity. The song says if I stop, humble myself and look up to God, I am free. My self-importance fades. The little annoyances of life are mosquitoes brushed away. Have I gained true simplicity? Not yet…so I have to keep singing.

What resolution will you make that will feed your spirit? Pick one small adjustment to enrich your life. Here are some ideas.

  • Eat more nourishing food that what you usually do.
  • Connect with a friend every week.
  • Make a change in your home so it’s a more supportive space for you.
  • Find a special prayer and make it your own so you know it inside and out. (God hears you!)
  • Take regular walks.
  • Write ten reasons to be grateful.
  • Sing every day!
  • Get support for a dream. Start talking about it. Nurture it so it can grow stronger. (I have a pony, so I can say with authority that dreams do come true!)

Blessing

Gracious God, thank you for daily chances to change.
Give us willing spirits and strong arms to serve you.
Make them arms that give hugs.

Today let us feel your holy hand on our shoulder,
guiding us toward your purpose.

Tell me your thoughts!

What is your intention for the last half of the year?

Where judges aren’t welcome

An early love for judges

One of my favorite judges, Judy Sheindlin. Photo courtesy of Susan Roberts.
One of my favorite judges, Judy Sheindlin. Photo courtesy of Susan Roberts.

I started watching judge shows in high school. While my parents divorced during the summer between my junior and senior year, I watched the Newlywed Game and Divorce Court—back to back—religiously.

In the game show, raunchy newlyweds flirted to win washing machines. In the court show, couples described messy failed relationships, pleading to the cool sophisticated judge who gave them clean outcomes that didn’t always make sense: he gets the washing machine, she gets the dryer. I took comfort in seeing someone in control above the brutal fighting; I myself was living in the fray.

My internal judge and me today

Today chaos or insecurity triggers my internal judge who gives opinions on all aspects of my existence, including the way I pray and my creative process. It can get overwhelming. Instead of fortifying my self-image, the judge can become so destructive that nothing seems good enough.

This internal judge is almost certainly the voice that silences many people from writing at all. Before a song, story or prayer can be fully fleshed out, the judge squelches it.

A courtroom—not a mind or a private journal—is the perfect time and place for a judge. Judges make great editors, or list-makers for pros and cons, or researchers for the best washing machine. Much as I love them, judges don’t have a place in the early creative process.

Writing to deepen the spiritual experience

Spiritual writing is all about process. Results don’t matter. You only need to show up, put pen to paper and let the judge know you’ll call her later, if you need her. You won’t miss her. The divine presence will show love through ink and fiber, if you let it.

The practice of spiritual writing is a balm to heal and nourish my creative self. I face the water, put my hand in like a boat and let my work set sail. The spirit supplies the wind.

Upcoming Sunday School Class

As part of our church’s Christian Education hour, my friend, Resa Kerns, and I will offer a spiritual writing class 10 a.m. this Sunday, June 1, in the resource room (lower level) of Broadway Christian Church. It’s an 8-week class, and everyone is invited. Internal judges might tag along, but they won’t be listened to. In the space of spiritual writing, we will listen for God.

While I teach the class this summer, I will include some of my topics on this blog so you can follow along and try some writing on your own. No experience needed!

The pen is the path. As we write, we might be surprised by who travels with us.

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” —Luke 24:31-32

Blessing

Lord, when there seems no escape
from our fumbling, our fears,
our frantic chasing of the next goal,
our harsh self-judgements,
bless us with acceptance.

Let’s practice devotion.

May we accept what is real
and rest in your kingdom.

Tell me your thoughts!

How much rule does the judge have in your mind? How much rule does God have?

Kitchen sink altar

Kitchen sink altar

Kitchen sink altarThere is a wonderful Zen story about a monk—new to the monastery—who asks the master what he should do. The master asks if he’s eaten his rice. The new monk says yes, he has eaten. The master says, “Then wash your bowl.”

It was a story I heard growing up. It’s meant to be meditated on, but a simple lesson from it is to focus on the now and take care of each mess as you make it. What an honorable quest! What an admirable lifestyle!

Then there is me and my reality. Rather than the “dirty a bowl, wash a bowl” style, our family subscribes to the “let the sink collect dirty bowls until it’s overfull.” I love to cook and seem to use as many bowls as they do on cooking shows. My teenage son prefers to get a fresh dish for each bowl of cereal, and he’s been known to go through a box of cereal in a day.

If you do the math on our bowl use, you can see my spiritual aspiration is in conflict with my reality. We bought a new dishwasher this week.

It will free up at least a half-hour a day of washing. We will be glad to have the machine’s help. I hope I still wash by hand once in a while. It does me good.

From mundane to devotional

My hands plunge in the warm, soapy water; I restore the dirty to clean. A mess of dishes becomes a rack of organized utensils. Cups stand proud next to one another. Forks mingle with spoons like a friendly cocktail hour. Plates look like railings on the deck, even and upright.

As I wash, I look at the sill above the sink. It is a three-inch altar. I keep my treasures there. I have a rock that says Love Much from my friend, B., a souvenir from a morning when we watched Who Does She Think She Is, a documentary on women artists. It reminds me to love much and be strong in my art!

Another rock on the sill from a summertime trip with my childhood friend, A., encourages, Shine!

The star of the sill is the aloe plant. My aloe was from a church member, C., who brings in batches of the babies to share with us at church. She was in a small group with Susie, the original grower of the aloe. Although Susie has gone to glory, her bright spirit, her generosity and her plants—Susie’s babies—live on through her friends. The plant now reminds me of friendship and how friendships thrive with close personal care just like plants. My aloe has outgrown its pot. It needs to be split and repotted. I will be able to pass on one of Susie’s babies.

Next to the green aloe stands the red Dala horse. My parents got it for me during their trip to the factory in Sweden. Similar to my live red horse outside the kitchen window, it cheers me up with its pert ears and neat style.

A crystal and a cross hang in the window. My mom always hung crystals in all her kitchens to make rainbows. When the sun shines, we have rainbows the size of thumbnails sprinkled through the kitchen.

A little kitschy—a lot fun—I recently added a little apron to our soap bottle. I’m happy to see that we don’t take our decor too seriously! Each time I use the soap, the well-dressed bottle charms me.

It can be a troubling world with intense pressures, needs from family members and news of shootings. You can make the places you frequent in your home into safe havens. Add reminders of people you love and say blessings for them. With visible reminders of faith, you can feel protected as you face daily tasks.

We can’t change our chores. We will eat and make dirty dishes, sometimes by the dozens! But we can change our space to amuse and support our spirit while we tackle our tasks.

As Brother Lawrence says, “We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

Blessing

Lord, keep us in small ways: a cozy home
with all the comforts of ordinary days.
Let us remember a safe home
with nourishing meals and hot water
are bigger blessings that we realize.
When we see dirty dishes,
remind us you are with us in our daily chores and repeated tasks.

You reveal what is real in soapy water and kitchen sink meditations.

Tell me your thoughts!

Do you have a place where you already feel peaceful and protected? Where else in your home—maybe the laundry room or a bathroom sinkcould be a place to add reminders to pray or praise God? Which items can you find that would link you to happy memories or positive relationships? What would bring you a smile?

Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing to win one of my handmade soap bottle aprons! I will draw on Friday (Jan. 17, 2014) afternoon. Good luck! 😀

***Thanks to everybody who left a comment! I appreciated reading them all. This contest has concluded. I’ve tagged the winner in the comments below!***

Forget resolutions…Sing in the new year!

simple art

simple artWhen my son was little, we sang to him every night. We had a song book and picked songs each night. He liked to request his favorites like Blackbird and Baby Beluga. It is possible we sang Baby Beluga 5,000 times. Well, at least 1,000! We enjoyed Michael Row Your Boat Ashore, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Dirty Old Town.

We stopped singing him to sleep when he grew older, but we kept the daily singing habit. Now we sing spontaneously about doing the laundry, watering the plants or making coffee. We are enthusiastic, determined and throaty but not what you would call “good singers.”

I believe singing—even (or especially!) amateur attempts like ours—is natural and holy.

I’m grateful we started the tradition of singing because it makes our home cheery. Even a little hum helps grow happiness. Try it right now! Hmmmmmm

Find your power

In church on Sunday, I sat in front of a professionally trained singer named Kathy. With a voice as clear as meditation, she found the notes for us. She made it easier to join the harmony and our pew sounded better than usual. She clarified our muddy sounds on the strength of her ability alone.

It’s important to surround yourself with strong people. If you are around watered-down people, you will find dilution normal. Find people who are seeking what you are seeking so you can travel together. Befriend people who use their voices. They can help you find your song.

Forget resolutions

I love list-making, planning and SMART goal setting. Most years, I relish the opportunity to make resolutions. But not this year. After prayer, I recognized that if I focus on Spirit and the joy of living, everything else will fall in place. Rather than set goals, I need to relax and let God work.

Instead of a resolution for 2014, I have decided to pick a theme song. My song for this year will be Simple Gifts. I plan to sing or hear it every day. I will let the lyrics speak to me and guide my life.

I hope we sing our whole lives, even when we are frail and our legs stop working. I hope we’ll sing about that.

And then when we lose our voices, I hope we’ll sing with our eyes.

Blessing

Lord,
all the earth hums your frequency of union.
Our lives overlap like a musical round.
May we sing your name so it rings out
over mountains
in rivers
above clouds.

Help us shed our self-absorption.
Keep our focus on you.
Like the little drummer boy,
may we offer you all we have with pure hearts.

Bless us with reasons to sing and
voices to make a joyful sound!

Tell me your thoughts!

Is there a part of your life that needs healing or adjustment? What music soothes your soul? Who makes you sing better? What will your song be for 2014? I’d love to hear from you!