What is Karitos Worship and Arts Conference

IMG-9367Many of my friends on facebook begin to see posts for Karitos and Karitos Indy for about a month before both events. My close friends know that they are Christian Art and worship conferences that I donate my time too in different ways. My closest friends hear me talk about how wonderful my experiences are and why I go and why I try to convince others to go, but I know they are also often left wondering, What is she doing again?

Well, I just came home from the 24th Karitos Worship and Arts Conference and I hope my blog will help answer better what exactly it is and why for me it is so important. To start Karitos was founded by Bob Hay  and his late daughter Courtney Hay  and a few others as a conference that celebrated christian artists of all kinds. The conference offers classes for three days in visual art, theater, film, music, literary, dance and worship. These classes are practical and spiritual designed to equip and further the education of artists interested in these fields with the hopes those artists will go out into their communities to share their talent.  In addition to the workshops at night there are worship times where many of the faculty and attendees share their personal gifts on stage with praise, prayer and worship. From this conference a community has formed of christian artists who share and encourage each other.

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Pasto David Mngodo Acrylic Class 

This year was the first year the conference was not held in Chicago, instead it was at Park Lawn Assembly of God Church in Milwaukee Wisconsin and ran from August 23 to 25. This year me and my two daughters attended. It was my youngest daughter’s first time. The experience of Karitos is the hardest to explain because it is as close to heaven as I can imagine. Imagine being surrounded by artistic, right brained people who are not afraid to share their talents  and are encouraging you to try new ways of expressing yourself. There is no set path for anyone,  someone who loves theater can walk into a painting class no matter their level of talent and try it. There is no judgement or discouragement when you think you fall short. You meet people who are not afraid to cry during a worship song ( It is okay to cry in church), or people who are not afraid to do what they feel God or the Holy Spirit might ask them to do. That’s what Karitos is for me it is truly an experience of spiritual freedom.

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Youth learning about flag worship

Artistic people often struggle with feeling accepted and understood, Karitos offers a community of people who understand that struggle and purposely accept and try to understand and be welcoming. Its the people involved, that is more meaningful for me then the event in the end. But the event is beautiful in itself.

This year There were so many new things. Musical Artist Bob Bennet was there and played during the worship time as well as Leon Timbo with Northern Lights United. Both brought a new sound to the stage. Randall Flinn and the Adeum dance Company also aided in the nightly worship times. Other artists in attendance lended their talents with moving dance numbers like “Grace” performed by Emmanuel Williams and then also by Debra Moore. Both moving tellings of the same song. Acting Scenes performed by Howi Tiller and Terry Vik told the story of Paul in prison. And visual artists Linda Harris-Iorio, Joey Kikki, Rosie Martindale and Milton Coronado painted  on stage during the worship celebrations.

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Artists painting during worship

The three of us had a wonderful time this year soaking in all the new things we experienced. If you are someone who has a talent, a crafty talent an artistic talent and are wanting to know more how your gift can be used this is a fabulous way to find answers to just that, I encourage you to look and see if there is a Karitos happening near you.

Live Out Loud Charity Creates Brave Hearts

IMG-9265 I just came home from Live Out Loud Charity’s Indianapolis fashion show event and I will say my heart hurts. It was one of the most raw, moving experiences I have ever had. This charity is full, jammed packed, with brave men and women, some as young as 12, who have battled suicide, bulling and other abuses. Many of them told their stories and some were survivors of multiple attempts at suicide. These models told stories of how this charity has brought them hope and given them a family of support and love. LOLC said in their press release that over 75 models of all sizes, heights ages and ethnic  backgrounds took the stage last night at the Indianapolis Arts Garden,  to stand against suicide and bullying. “Out models are real people affected by suicide, depression, bullying and low self-esteem. Each person that walks our runway is empowered by our training and their incredible experiences they gain at LOLC events.”  One of the most moving moments of the night was when Sherrie Gearheart, founder of Live Out Loud Charity,   awarded a number of models for their work in the organization and each model said how many lives they had saved from suicide. Some of these women had only been involved in the organization a total of 4 months and had already saved 1 to 3 people. IMG-9199

Over 9 models told their individual stories of what led them to depression, suicidal thoughts and then to the saving grace of the Live Out Loud Charity. These women and men did not all look like runway models and that was what made this event so wonderful. It was truly a celebration of life, of these men and women overcoming and gaining hope.

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Sherrie Gearheart

The Live Out Loud Charity was founded in 2010 with the goal to serve “those at risk of committing suicide and to help stop this preventable cause of death from continually happening across the world,” according to their website. The charity offers suicide prevention training, anti bullying and core character development seminars. They also have trained members who can conduct suicide interventions. If you know of someone who may need their help anyone can call their hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

During the runway show there were dancers who performed beautiful pieces about hope and strength as well as musical artists one of which gave her own testimony of how Live Out Loud Charity has helped her with her own battles of depression.

The vendors at the event were also very much in touch with the charity and their mission. My friend and mentor Angel Simmon’s had a table for her Loves Great Design T-Shirts. Carla DeBois was kind enough to show of one of her T’s for me.IMG-9153

 

 

I met artist Cora Magere who painted during the event. Her piece she said d is a picture of a woman breaking down the wall and escaping suicide. I thought it was beautifully prophetic. Cora also featured a painting of Kaelief Browder, an Indianapolis man who committed suicide in 2015 after being incarcerated for minor felonies.

Another vendor was Andre Joachim Jr. and his beautiful clothing to raise awareness of vitiligo and stop bulling and rejection of children and adults with it. Andre began developing vitiligo when he was in his 20’s he told me although most people with the skin condition develop it in later years. I thought it was wonderful that a model in the show also had viteligo and she was beautiful. His clothing can be found online at Viti-wear-viti-nation.com.

 

The desginers for the show include Wonderfuly Made Designs out of Indiana, Immanuel Clothing, Emily Artware, Designs by Don Marie, Stone Stylz, Kim’s Bridal Boutique, Wonderfulee Marlee, Danaya Designs 4U and the Pokadotted Pineapple Boutique from Kentucky. Here were some of my favorites!

 

 

 

 

Journaling Your Fears

I like to take artistic steps to help manage my anxiety. I feel calmer, more balanced and overall happier when I have a creative outlet or project. However there are also some very practical ways to deal with daily anxiety and depression that have helped me. As I mentioned before prayer and reading the Bible is something I need to do daily to help settle my mind. If I don’t my day is muddled and so are my feelings. Its an anchor for me. Another anchor that I use is journaling. I was told by a therapist early on with my struggles of depression that daily journaling of your feelings, your thoughts is a healthy way process them. When I am extremely worried about someone or something journaling about it gives me a place to put it.

I don’t usually journal every day but I do tend to fall back on it when I am struggling with a situation or feelings in general. Journaling gives a clear way to see what the real situation is vs, what I’ve built it up to be. I have also learned that with prayer journaling I can write down my biggest fears, concerns and worries and then give it over to God who knows exactly how to take care of them.

There are some agreed thoughts on journaling. Most therapists I have talked to preferred you journal long hand vs keeping a journal on your computer or tablet. Writing out is a very cathartic process. I tend to journal in lists vs writing a long letter or prayer out, it helps me organize my thoughts. I was also told early on to end on a positive note. One of the ways I do that is by writing three things I am thankful for at the end of my journaling time. Thankfulness is a wonderful tool to stopping your brain from going on down the negative train track. I have found this works even when your not journaling. If your in a situation or having one of those days where all you can think about is how bad things are, start naming what your thankful for.  You will be surprised how soon you’ll start to feel better about the situation.

I am really starting to get into Art therapy and incorporating them in my journaling. There are a number of fun art therapy prompts on Pintrest and I’ve even gotten my daughters to make a few with me. On days I struggle with my emotions and just don’t have words to write it down with, these prompts have really helped me find peace. You might also find that an art journal vs a written journal is more therapeutic for you, especially if you can draw. (not my talent)

If journaling has worked for you as you 2 become brave leave me a comment. If you have a favorite art therapy prompt, let me know about it. So far my favorite has been drawing yourself in the rain.

Updating Sentimental Antiques

unnamed.jpgI miss my grandma’s. Both of them were so influential in my life. Both of them loved to collect old things from their childhood.  If you still have your grandma, give her a hug or call her today for me. When both of them died I was allowed to pick some of there things and I tried to pick what reminded me of them the most. My maternal grandmother, Helen collected souvenir spoons and plates. Collecting souvenir spoons I have found is definitely a thing of the past. Spoon holders can only be found in antique stores and finding souvenir spoons has become a family hunt for us on any vacation. Our last trip to Myrtle Beach we could not find any spoons except in the Ripley Believe it or Not Aquarium and a small collector store in the North Myrtle Beach Mall.

My Grandmother Helen had two spoon racks, both a dark wood, in her yellow kitchen. She was a baker and a wonderful cook so I always associate cooking and baking with her. My middle child Lucy loves to bake and I often think she has some of my Grandma Helen’s spirit.  When I inherited the racks I had them hung up until one of our pipes burst and our downstairs flooded a few years ago. I recently decided it was time to make my house look how I want it so I got the racks out to hang. The dark wood just didn’t look right with all the light wood and and white in my kitchen so after much prayer and thought I decided to paint them.

IMG-7877It took three coats of white wood paint to transform the spoon holders. My parents had gifted me a smaller one a few years ago for the spoons I collect. I hung them up in my kitchen and noticed the how the blank space above would look nice with something written. I tried a few different wall scriptures I had found but finally settled on 1 Corinthians 13:13 ” And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the Greatest of these is love. On Grandma’s Largest spoon holder I placed all her spoons. Some of my favorites of hers are ones that my uncle brought back from Italy for her and Budapest, Hungry, where her family originated from.

She has a Mariott Great America spoon, one of our family’s favorite places to have a reunion when I was growing up.

On the middle rack went all the spoons we have collected as a family. With our trip to Myrtle beach we have filled that rack. The third smallest has spoons my mom has gotten me on her trips or David has brought back on his work trips. They are the places we will all someday go together I hope. The rack is such a good reminder of the blessed vacations and trips God has allowed us to go on. It brings me great memories and helps on those days I need some encouraging.

 

How To Make Memories Out of Seashells

IMG-9063We had a wonderful vacation this past June in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was our first real beach vacation as a family. One of my favorite things we did was walk down to the shore and collect sea shells. I collected a whole gallon size bag and decided apart from the two spoons I got for my collection I would make my souvenirs from my shells.

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                                                                                                      Hunter and David   collecting shells

I found so many ideas and things to do with them on line but to start I wanted to make a monogram of the shells first before I tried anything else. So when we returned home it was one of the first crafts I made. While collecting seashells I really liked the really little ones and initially planned on making it entirely of that but because of the way this wooden M was shaped I decided instead I would use as many different shapes as I could.

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                                                        Some of our shells drying in the sun after being cleaned

Before we left Myrtle beach I had already cleaned my seashells. To clean them I put them in a 2 gallon bucket with bleach water and let them sit for at least 5 hours, a few times overnight. Then using a small brush I cleaned anything remaining off and laid them on towels to dry on our balcony. That way when I brought them home they didn’t smell and were ready to store until I could make my projects out of them. The first step to making the seashell monogram was to find a wooden letter.6234D152-1D2C-49EB-9A97-D514A49F0FA1 I found mine at Walmart very inexpensive, you can find them at almost any craft store as they are very popular. First I laid out a pattern of the shells as carefully as I could on the M. It did not end up being the final design but allowed me to see just how many shells I needed and how I would need to place them so that they overlapped. B0696BBA-F321-4D4E-8C25-AA576D799271I also used a number of our broken shells to wrap around or layer by the whole shells. Then I took the shells off and laid them out on paper towels (you could use newspaper too) and sprayed them, front and back with Rust-o-leum Painters Touch Ultra Cover Clear Gloss. This gives the shells a shiny sheen so that they look like they are still wet. While they dried I painted the front and the sides of my M white and let that dry overnight. It took about two coats.

Once the M and the shells were dry I got out a plastic knife ( you can also use a wide Popsicle stick or stir stick) and my SimpleSet pre-mixed Thin -set Mortar in white.IMG-9015 I love this stuff and a little goes a long way. I layered the mortar on one area at a time and pressed the shells into the mortar. I used my favorite small shells for the skinny legs of the M and the big shells for the large ones. Once all the shells have been placed I let my piece dry in the sun for about 2 hours before moving it. I wrote the date of our vacation and where we went on the back of the M and hung it on my command center wall in my kitchen. IMG-9065

Its a wonderful reminder of the fun we had this summer.

Supplies you need for this project

  1. Clean Dry Seashells
  2. Wooden letter
  3. white wood paint
  4. Clear Gloss Spray paint
  5. Pre-mixed thin-set Mortar
  6. Stick or plastic knife for spreading

Want to try this project, leave a comment below.

 

Learning How to Plod Thru Hardships

 

2abideMaking jewelry is one of the things I truly enjoy. Lately a bracelet I made for one of my physical therapists has been on my heart. I was in physical therapy for 8 months after back surgery. Although I went from barely walking with crutches to walking, driving and swimming again I still graduated with only managing the nerve pain in my foot. It improved but today is still there. I had two physical therapists that I learned to rely on as I saw them up to three times a week. Physical therapy taught me a lot about plodding. It was a marathon not a quick race by any means. Healing of this kind takes perseverance and learning to see the small improvements as encouragements. This was something I definitely had to learn.  I can remember a few months before I was done with my physical therapy one of my therapists was dismayed as I seemed to plateau. She was almost as frustrated as I was. But I believe God heard my small prayers for her afterword and then next visit we found exercises that released my nerve and lessen the pain in my foot temporarily. I made them both bracelets and gave them to them at my last visit. One of them was based on Romans 5:3-4.

“And not only this but, (with joy) let us exalt in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure trouble) produces patient endurance and endurance proven character (spiritual maturity) and proven character, hope and confident assurance (of eternal salvation.) AMP version.

This verse to me is the importance of plodding. We need to learn how to plod thru our sufferings and hardships with joy. That can be a really, really hard thing to do and it takes a total change of how we view things. God doesn’t always use tragic events to teach us how to plod or abide in him. He uses hardships like the person at work you just can’t get along with, your child hitting their teen years, daily hardships we need to find joy in. When you are in these hardships or tests it’s important to remember that God hasn’t left you, still hears you and will establish you in the end. He challenges us to do do things in that testing like, pray for our enemies, (which is really hard!), have patience and wear kindness and love. Give when we think we have nothing left to give and depend on him to provide for us when we can’t see how he can.

I recently finished a wonderful Bible plan on Youversion called Everyday Supernatural by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft. On day six he writes about the importance of plodding. He tells the story of a missionary names William Carey. Carey went to India in 1793 to spread the gospel. While he was there three of his seven children died, his wife developed mental illness, Carey suffered a skin condition that would not allow him in direct sunlight and in the first 7 years of his time there he did not see a single person convert to Christianity. In that first 7 years he also lost six years worth of work one night when his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. How hard it must have been to keep going as adversity after adversity hit him.

But at the end of his life he saw thousands of people come to know God and he opened up a way for other missionaries to enter India. He translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Arabic, Hindi and Sanskrit. He is known now as the father of modern missions.  Carey himself was once quoted as saying in response to a question about what he thought his greatest gift was, “ Mr Carey’s greatest gift was that he new how to plod.” It’s in plodding through our hardships God grows greatness thru us.

The bracelet is designed to look much like a vine. The cross at the beginning is green so that it represents Christ and us abiding in his vine as described in John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine you are the branches, If you remain in me and I In you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.”

The yellow flower represents the joy that will grow in us when we suffer our hardships and when we celebrate our mountain tops. We will learn to put our joy in the Lord. As in Romans 5:3-4 The pearl represents patient endurance. The brown or bronze flower represents the growth of proven character or as the NLT version says strong character. The jade green bead represents hope.  

When we became Christians God did not promise us new lives with no trouble. He actually promised the opposite saying that we will have trouble but Jesus has already overcome it. I hope in whatever your plodding thru today this gave you some encouragement that plodding thru hardships is part of His plan to grow you into something great.

Other verses this piece of jewelry brought to mind are:

  1. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
  2. I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener (vine dresser). He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:1-2
  3. I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard. My loved one has a vineyard on a fertile hillside. Isaiah 5:1

Check out these shoes!

Shoes have become a struggle for me. When you are faced with a long physical recovery it’s amazing how the small things in life can get really hard. As I explained in my previous blogs I am recovering from a ruptured disk and nerve damage in my right foot. Because of the neuropathy in my right foot  I can no longer comfortably walk around barefoot or in my flip flops this summer. I have been sentenced to tennis shoes.

Which isn’t horrible in and of itself by any means, But it does limit ones wardrobe. I’ve actually been very blessed with a husband who works for a well known athletic company, which has allowed me to wear tennis shoes that are supportive and sturdy. But, I’ve never been one to like to wear tennis shoes with a dress or skirt and well, I like dresses and skirts. Last summer since I was hobbling about on crutches I figured the last thing to worry about was my shoes but this  summer without crutches or a cane I decided I needed to have a pair of shoes I could wear that would work. I went to Kohls armed with coupons and bought these brown shoes.

brown shoes

It was a stressful experience as I had to buy a whole size and a half bigger than my feet were prior to the accident just to get my orthotics and swollen right foot in the shoe. My left foot sloshed around in the big space so after applying heel guards and tissues it finally stayed on. It wasn’t a good solution so I avoided dresses for a few weeks until I stumbled upon a pin in pinterest where they were decorating white canvas tennis shoes. I thought to myself, this is awesome I can make dressy tennis shoes. The pair in the pin I liked was a pair of oxfords. That very next week Michaels happened to have a sale on their canvas shoes and I bought two pairs.

I liked the oxford idea a lot but then I remembered when I was 11 my mom had bought me a pair of pink saddle shoes that I wore everywhere. I loved them. I thought to myself why not? I’ll bring the saddle shoe back so I began to make myself a pair, this time black.

IMG_8997I started out by finding pictures of saddle shoes and drew the outline of the back leather on the shoes in pencil. The stitching on the shoes I could use for a guide at the  heel area. Using a small flat paintbrush I painted black acrylic paint on the shoes in all the black areas and let the shoes dry overnight.

The next day I used a black sharpie and outlined the black areas to smooth out the borders. Using an artist eraser I erased any pencil lines remaining on the shoe. Then I took white acrylic paint and using the tip of the handle of the brush I created the little white dots around the border of the face of the shoe and heel. I let that dry till that evening. Once the paint was dry and set I used KIWI Protect-All sealant for leather and fabric footwear all over the shoes, especially on the painted areas to keep the paint from running or smearing when wet. The sealant does have to dry too so be sure to set them out for a few hours to let them dry.  I was very happy with the result and thankful that I now had a pair of dressy shoes to wear.IMG_9006

I did make a second pair as oxfords only I made mine pink. My teenager even liked them.

Have a solution to two different sized feet? Have you made your own pair of canvas tennis shoes? Share in the comments below.