Circle Journal Joy

My dear friend’s inspiration has evolved into something grand. Alexandra invited many of her Artfest sisters to join in on a collaborative altered book project. Since then the idea has become a circle journal with a group of about 15 gals making and sending their journals around the group each with a distinct theme.

I was so fortunate to be the first to receive Alex’s book. Here’s the cover and pages she made using a Victor Hugo novel. I love Victor Hugo, but alas, I could not read it in French:

Her page is on the left which opens up to a sign in page for all the participants:

And the pages I added:

Page in progress (I love mud and weeds):


My own journal, below, which was sent to Amy has the theme, Symbols – Personal Imagery. I made the journal from a book cover and filled the inside with Bristol paper. The journal is bound with rings so that pages can be easily added and removed, and chunkier pages will not be an issue.


Sign in page:

This is an old dictionary page with the definition for symbols, symbolism, symbology, etc. Although I sent this journal on already, when it finally arrives back home, this page may get another going over. It just doesn’t feel done to me. I was in a hurry to mail:

And my personal recurring symbol is trees. The tree on this page is a sketch I did about 8 years ago at a park in Nashville. Ah, memories, the children were so young:

And on the flipside of that notebook paper is a journal entry about my feelings for trees, the cottonwood in particular. It can partially be read if held to a mirror.

Right now I have Jessica’s journal and look forward to adding a page before sending it on. Her theme is Signs and the journal is just incredible.

More pictures to follow as this journey plays out.

amanda ∞


Even, my homeless friend

Our friend, Even, stopped by tonight to show us his new bike. He bought it with lottery winnings. My husband wasn’t home, so I sat on the porch this evening and visited with him. He used to live in a group home down the street, and could always be found riding up and down the streets on his bike unless it had been recently stolen.

Even has had a rough life. I won’t go into the details without permission to share his life story, but I will say that he has lived in survival mode most of his days. He’s been homeless before for 8 1/2 years, and has been homeless again for the past year. He is already talking of the upcoming winter. He says that age 52 he doesn’t know how many more winters he can handle living homeless.

Even is not the stereotypical homeless man. He is not a drunk, he refuses handouts, and most definitely doesn’t beg. I can’t even get him to eat here when he stops by. He doesn’t ever want us to feel like he is using us. He lives on the spare jobs he can get here and there, and on his lottery winnings. And he always talks of someday winning big and being able to buy a home.

My friend, Even, is a reminder to me that not everyone is homeless because of drugs or alcohol, or the lack of a desire to work, or whatever stereotypical reason I can throw out there. His life is different. Because of some brain function issues caused by an accident early in life, Even appears quite normal but just can’t work the system. He just can’t quite fit the norm or hold a job for long. He mentions that most 52 year olds have houses and families, and he talks of his survival without a home. He explains his pulley system that allows him to sleep high in the trees in a hammock and pull his bike up with him to keep it safe. He excitedly shares that someone has been letting him sleep on their property in an old bus, and that he just got a solar shower. He talks of bathing in the public restroom at the park and how there just ain’t nothing like a real shower.

Even also shares the very dark side of being homeless and being kicked while sound asleep for no reason, having rocks thrown at him in the night by a drunk man who tells Even his life is worth nothing because he’s homeless, of trying to find work but employers not wanting to hire someone without a city address. Life is hard.

Tonight I rejoice with Even because he has a nice new bike. And I am thankful that I was here this evening when he knocked on the door.  I invited him back for lunch tomorrow so he can show Scott his bike. I hope he comes.

amanda ∞

Summer Self Portrait = Meanderings While Sweating

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I sit in the heat of summer with my familiar perspiration making my face glow. (If only the models would realize that sexy shine comes from SWEAT.) The windows are open this evening, fans pushing air through the house. I have come to love the heat of summer permeating the air of my home. I choose open windows over air conditioning. What began as stubbornness a few years ago has become my preference. I was tired of giving my money to the electric company as their rates continued to rise. Now I am thankful.

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Each day this summer I awaken and run a load of laundry through the washer. Then I retreat to my art studio with espresso in hand. My Bible opens and I soak in God’s amazing and living Word. I feel it penetrate to that inner chamber, that same chamber that was once sealed shut. Now the doors are flung open hungry for more truth, more love, more life. And I am ready for this day ~ whether gladness or suffering comes my way, my foundation is beneath my feet.

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The temperature rises, the laundry flaps and snaps on the line. Through the open windows I can hear the birds, the loud song of the cicada, the poetry of the cottonwood. When I step outside I am not struck by a wave of heat. The warmth of summer has already permeated my home and my bones. The out of doors beckons me. I no longer dread what summer has to offer, but embrace it. As I wash dishes the sweat runs off my head dripping as the steam rises from water. As I pull weeds, the sweat rolls down my chest. Dirt is in my fingernails. Ice cream is prepared, mosquitoes slapped. It is hot. It is summer.

amanda ∞


Self portrait from a joyous family reunion.

The effects of the Kansas wind also reflect the the cogs in my brain. I need a time of rest, a time for my windblown mind to settle.

I’ve finally made it to this place. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I’ve been looking at this space on my calendar since April, dreaming about how I would spend my time. Now that I am here I find myself floating. I feel incapable of doing anything. The school year was intense and we have been on the go since. While I have enjoyed each adventure, all the activity has taken its toll. I am undone and in a great need of rest.

What I envisioned for this week of summer was time in my art studio doing whatever I felt like. While this may still happen (tomorrow or the next day), today I am only able to read my magazines and pet my sweet dogs. Beyond that is unrest. So I will continue to float because I can. Thank you, Sark, for teaching me that it is okay to nap or daydream. Sometimes that is just the thing one needs to fill up again.

Isaiah 30:15a  For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: …

This evening I go to pray with my church family which is beautiful, restful and passionate. Perhaps then my soul will realign with my spirit and I will once again be refreshed.

amanda ∞

I Have 2 Homes

Our recent trip to Jamaica was one of renewing dear friendships. I consider so many of my friends from Harmons, Jamaica as my 2nd family.  When we arrived, it was as if we had never left. That feeling of comfort, of arriving back home, came instantly. I was saddened though as one of my dear family members, Sammy, had passed on since our last visit. I found myself grieving the lack of his earthly presence, the sound of his voice, the smile on his face. I missed him gracing me with a pet name (nickname) for our visit.

Quite humorously, the first thing I mentioned while journaling about our visit was the care and nurturing of my coffee addiction. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I learned that they had begun roasting their own coffee right where we were staying, so each morning was begun with a cup of freshly roasted, freshly brewed, very native Jamaican coffee. Roll that glorious bean footage:

Coffee tree. See the green beans?

Raw beans.

Ira stirring a batch of beans over the fire.

Mmmm, roasting beans.

My husband gave it a try.

Cooling the freshly roasted beans.

Dean, the coffee expert.

And me drooling over the beans:

Jamaica is full of beautiful wonders, the Doctor Birds, the flora and fauna. The fruit trees are always in glorious display. I love to recall the sights, but the smells of Jamaica are what truly linger. With every turn I was infused with a new smell, very pungent, very pronounced, some divinely sweet, others I would categorize as distinctly odd. Even the earth evokes a greater sense of earthiness by it’s smell, richer, heavier than I am accustomed to. I feel a greater connection to nature in Jamaica, perhaps because everything is fresh, different and therefore I stop to linger on the details.

The little town in which we stay has no running water. Electricity is available, but few people have jobs and therefore no electricity. Take our unemployment rate in the U.S. and flip it to approximate the employment rate in Harmons and surrounding areas. I am once again reminded of the blessing it is to have an indoor toilet and and sink and faucet with running water. The Harmony House, our home away from home, has water trucked in, so we did not have to go without during our stay, but most of the locals do not have this luxury. The cooking is also done outside over a fire when it is not raining both to keep the heat out and because there is not much room in most homes. Occasionally some have a separate kitchen like this:

Many families live in tiny homes like this:

There are nicer homes in the area, but among those construction is a slow process sometimes taking years. They build as the money comes in.

One woman invited me into her home where she lived with her 4 yr old daughter and another couple, friends of hers. The room we entered was the tiny kitchen that was used when it rained. I thought I would fall through the floor. The remaining 2 rooms were tiny bedrooms in which there was truly no privacy. And in that house I left my heart.

The organization that brought us to Jamaica is Won By One to Jamaica. They regularly bring missions teams to this area to build relationships and build homes. I am so pleased with what is becoming of the town in connection with Won By One. The locals are employed by the Harmony House to clean, cook, build, and to provide food for the missions teams. Several local men head up the construction teams when the missions groups help build the houses. Also, a couple large greenhouses have been built with more to come which employ the locals. The produce is sold to the hotel industry on the coasts which reduces import costs for the hotels and provides solid jobs for the workers in the greenhouses; win, win. In this town and the surrounding area, I see progress being made; I see hope.

The greatest aspect of growth that I’ve seen in this town is that of brotherly love. My first trip 10 yrs ago I noticed the children beating on each other, fighting, calling names. There seemed to be a disharmony, an imbalance. The fathers of the children did not seem to be involved in the lives of their “baby mommas” or their own children. Although I still see many lone mothers raising their children, I also have noticed that more couples are marrying. And although I did see a few outbursts of violence among the children, it was a much more rare occurrence. The love of God prevails. This love is becoming something very real and tangible to the locals and the missions groups as their lives collide. All who engage are transformed.

amanda ∞

Jamaica bound

Today is one of lists and packing. We are going to Jamaica. My husband has been asked to make a new video for Won By One. You can view his last one here which was done about 5 years ago.

My children from the last trip:

I am fond of this place. There was a time in my life of turmoil and unrest as I sought God, but could not seem to find Him. In 1999 my first trip to Jamaica with this group is where God spoke to me. He said, “It’s not about you. It’s about me.” This thought shook my world. Being the baby of the family, being a girl of brothers, I felt I had always gotten my way. And as I grew into adulthood, life was really about me and my happiness. I was crying out to God because I was not happy. When my focus changed from me to Him, suddenly life had tremendous depth of meaning beyond my little realm. Suddenly life was about loving others, not receiving love for myself.

God has since taken me on many adventures to grow me into maturity, and there is still much more ahead as He continues to transform me. I look forward to this trip 10 years from the point I surrendered my “self” to God’s hands.

Rose, the wonderful cook:

amanda ∞

Symbols Shaping Space done!

Artfest was over 2 months ago. I am still finishing up details and adding thoughts to my Artfest journal. Yesterday I was thrilled to have completed the mobile from Katie Kendrick‘s class: Symbols Shaping Space

This was my absolute favorite class. Katie is an intuitive artist, so as she taught, she drew out creativity in each of us. To begin the class, she broke our minds free with some non-dominant hand exercises which were incorporated into the final piece. I learned so much and was overflowing with emotion.

I hung my mobile from a piece of an antique rocking chair seat. The shape of this wood just called to me.

The mobile is covered with thoughts and remembrances of childhood, from the pieces of my favorite childhood book, The Owl and the Pussycat, to the antique barrettes that were my mother’s.

I was hoping to share with you a song, Beautiful Pea Green Boat by Laurie Anderson, but sadly cannot find it. For those of you who have the Bright Red album from 1994, go back and take a listen. It’s delightful.

amanda ∞