Spiritual Autobiography: Author of Hope  

Hoping:

Spiritual memoir can help you explore the unique ways your personal story can be shared. This page will help you begin organizing your spiritual autobiography on the pages of a spiritual journal. One of the major themes many find inside their story is hope. Hope often drives spiritual memoir regardless of the individual's circumstances, challenges or, difficulties.

Spiritual Journal ArtWhen I think of hope's role in my spiritual autobiography, I consider my daughter. I am hoping that my daughter, Emily, can keep her innocence. I don’t want her to learn that trusting is foolish. I want her to marvel in little discoveries like the beauty of a butterfly’s wings. I want to stop the broken hearts from lashing out and stealing Emily’s tender young heart. I want the voices in her head to speak of love, joy and happiness. This is what I want.

I'm not in control. I want to dodge every possible cause for Emily's pain. I wish to show her a beautiful, perfect world. What I want is impossible. I can't make an imperfect world perfect. I can't stop Emily from living in a broken world. I can't control the reality that she will feel pain.

God is in control. He's the one that's in charge of Emily's young, tender heart. I pray that He'll make her loving, kind and passionate. I know He'll answer my prayer. I also know that there's a high price for love, kindness and passion. I won't always like the way that God instills these good things in Emily's heart. I'd like Him to answer my prayers for her in a quick, easy and painless way. That's probably not how He'll answer me. I hate that. I wish He'd let me have my way. I know He won't let me have my way, because my way is not the best way. God's ways are the best ways. That's why He's in charge, not me.

Do you wish you were in control? I'm glad I'm not. Knowing that God is in control is the only real hope I have. It's the only hope I have for Emily and all the people I love. He's the only hope I have for me. When I hear the stories others tell about God, I have hope for them, too. Our stories are encouragement that our creator is not a fairytale, but a real, personal, loving God who came to earth to bring us hope. He wants to be the story of hope that we have to share.

Read a Spiritual Autobiography: Dancing in the Doghouse

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Sharing My Journey 

Spiritual autobiography and my story of hope:

Child Sleeping in BedI paint my sweet Emmy Lou as she sleeps. She looks so incredibly innocent. Her skin is creamy like a peach and her golden hair curls tightly to her sleepy head. Behind her resting eyelids are beautiful blue eyes. Her chubby little body is just like mine was when I was a little girl. She is perfect and safe.

I add some things to my canvas that I fear. I add the things I fear will find my sweet Emmy Lou. Innocence Snatchers swirl around the space where she sleeps so peacefully. The world is too big. So much can go wrong. I can’t always be there when the Innocence Snatchers come. “Jesus, keep her safe,” I pray. “Keep my Emmy Lou safe from pain, tears and innocence lost."

I wish I could give Emily more. Instead, I must release her heart to God. Only He can be with her all of the time. His quiet and loving voice can console her pain, dry her tears and shield her from the Innocence Snatchers. Sometimes, though, even He will allow Emily to see the ways our broken world, and our broken hearts, fall short of His perfect plan. I want to stop “sometimes,” from coming but I know that’s wrong. I have to let Emily enter this imperfect world on God’s terms, not mine. All I can do is love her, and hold her when I can, just like my mom did for me. That has got to be enough. It’s all I have. It’s the best I have to give her.

I’d love to offer people a story of happiness that didn’t include the realities of a broken world. That’s not my story. What I have to give is a broken world, a broken heart and the reality of pain mixed with the ever present existence of a loving God. I can’t offer others any more than I can offer Emily. All my story really promises is the promise of God. It’s the best I have to give.

I am an artist who believes God is at the center of her story. Spiritual journaling lets me share my story with others who need the hope that I have. I want them to see that God understands our pain. The love of God is the driving force of hope behind my story. Every picture I make, every word I write, and each testimony I share helps tell my story. My story says, "God saves." It's the best I have to give, and I give it with all I have.

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Spiritual autobiography and your story of hope:

What does your story say? What's the best you have to give? Who is in control of your life? Who, or what, is your hope? Finding expression for the answers to these questions will help your spiritual story take form. It will not be the same as someone else's. God meets us where we are on our journey, and how we answer spiritual questions will be a reflection of our personal relationship with Him. The variety of ways we share don't separate us. We are connected by the truth that each of us has our own story to share. 

Consider what you hope for. What do you wish for? Who, or what, do you put your faith in? Make a list of all the things you long for. Write about how your life would change if these wishes were met. Write about how your relationship with God might change if you got everything you asked for. Where hope has been lost, invite God's encouragement. Where life is out of control, invite God's hand of peace. Write a letter to God asking Him for the encouragement and peace you need. Let God's encouragement and peace become part of your story.


Spiritual Memoir and Relationships
 

Considering Relationships:

Consider the role of relationships in your spiritual autobiography or spiritual memoir. This page can help you explore these relationships inside your spiritual journal and fit them into your spiritual autobiography. Relationships, good and bad, have a place in our spiritual story.

Iris Flower

I look back on my relationships and consider which ones have had an impact on my spiritual autobiography. It's not always the good relationships that shape my story. When I lived in New York, I belonged to a play group with my daughter Emily. This experience with relationships was not a good one. I joined the play group so Emily would have a chance to play with other kids, and I could have some adult conversation. One of the playgroup moms had lost a parent just before I moved away from New York to Michigan in 1999. I don’t think I was as sensitive toward her loss as I should have been. I should have reached out more, but I was self-absorbed. I think my self-centeredness gave the playgroup moms an impetus to push me out of their group. There was good evidence that I wasn’t really wanted. After helping throw baby showers for a few of the moms, I got skipped over when I was pregnant with A.J. No shower was given for me. In the last weeks before we moved, I didn’t find out about events unless I picked up the phone to ask about them. I had been removed from the call list. I remember driving home from the very last play date I attended. It had become painfully clear that I wasn’t welcome. People turned their backs on me as I tried to initiate conversation. I heard two of the moms talk about me behind my back. The way they acted made me cry. It hurt a lot to be pushed away by so many people at the same time. 

If I had been nicer to the playgroup moms things might have been different in the end. Still, I think they carried pushing me away a little too far. I was moving away anyway. It wouldn’t have hurt them to stick with the basic social niceties for the few weeks I had left before we moved away. I know one of the moms was pretty depressed and another one was afraid of a lot of things. For sure, I knew it hurt to lose a parent so it wasn’t surprising that a grieving mom might lash out. If I were them I might back stab me too. I think I understand why they disliked me, but it still hurts. This is a memory I'd rather not keep.

If I was less codependent, I would have realized that it was time to find a new group of friends a lot sooner. I really didn't do anything to deserve the extent of this rejection. Still it's my fault that I chose to stick around. It's my fault that I now have these memories. In a sense, I allowed them (the memories) to become: to exist. And, these are memories that will always be with me. Now, all I can do to control them is to make peace with them and accept them. Today, these bad memories have power over me to the extent that I allow them to. I can choose not to be codependent. I can allow people to have their own feelings without letting their feelings reach inside of me and hurt me. I can accept that I am powerless over how others feel. I'm a thirty-something year old woman: I can grow up and exercise the power that I do have over my own feelings. My bad memories can become an opportunity for identifying codependency and becoming less codependent. Less codependent means less dependent on what others think about me. Less codependent means more dependent on God's truth about who I am in Him. Less codependent means more freedom from the challenges and difficulties of bad relationships. Less codependent means peace for me.

Which of your memories are more powerful: the pleasant ones or the unpleasant ones? What kinds of emotions do these memories bring with them? Can you keep, or discard these memories? What about memories that are attached to bad relationships? Even if you didn't do something to cause a bad memory, is it any less painful? Consider identifying codependency in your own relationships. In what ways are you influenced by the feelings and expectations of others? How do your relationships, and your attitudes about them, fit within your spiritual autobiography?


Sharing My Journey 

My understanding of relationships:

I put some more paintings on the walls of our new home. They’re new paintings of my childhood home. They reconnect me with the good things I have left behind. I try to paint every space I can remember. I paint the nooks and crannies, corners, and special places that could be forgotten one day if I don’t paint them. I paint a beautiful bunch of wild flowers that I picked for my mom from the backyard. I put them in a familiar vase that’s next to a familiar table which is on a familiar rug. It’s all the details and nuances that make meaning for me. I call forward the goodness of the past. I want to go back and there’s a way I can. I paint.

I can hold on to some of the pieces of my past. I can remember the people and places that shaped me. I can remember the moments that grew me and formed me. I can invite people into my life with sensitivity and enjoy them in ways that stay with me. I can reach out and remember how good it felt to move beyond myself. I can recall the people who haven’t pushed me away and have always made me feel welcome. I do my best to remember all of these things so the past doesn’t slip away. I paint so I won’t forget.

Vase of Flowers

I Can Go Back
Age 32 

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Your understanding of relationships:

Do you feel responsible for the ways others have treated you? Is it hard for you to see that it’s not your job to take on the needs and feelings of others? Are you confused by the difference between helping others and enabling them? Taking responsibility for the wants and needs of others can be a sign of codependency in relationships.

Explore the nature of your relationships. Make a list of a few people that have both blessed you and brought you pain. List a few of the ups and downs of each of these “mixed bag” relationships.

Accepting the challenges and difficulties of relationships (without taking responsibility for the feelings of others and without trying to fix/change them) is the sign of healthy non-codependent relationships. Ask God to show you how He is at work in both the ups and the downs of connecting with others. Ask Him to help you find peace with people even when the friendship they offer you is a “mixed bag.” List five things you are learning about God and your relationships inside your journal.

How is "what you have learned" a part of your spiritual story? Is there a place for "what you have learned" about relationships within your spiritual autobiography? Are relationships a theme that fits inside your spiritual memoir?

The Light and Dark in Our Story 

Exploring the ups and downs inside our spiritual journal:

As much as we don't like to think about the darkness in our lives, there is freedom to gain by exploring these darker places in our spiritual journal.

Spiritual Warfare Painting

When I think about the darkness in my story, I start in my neighbor's yard. One of my neighbors has a yard that’s impeccable. By the looks of it, there are no surprises allowed. Everything seems purposefully placed. I suspect that no seed gets to grow unless it was planted deliberately. I think we might annoy our neighbors because of the way we groom our yard. We don’t really groom it at all. Beyond the necessary weeding and mowing, what grows is on its own. Our garden runs a bit wild. I do my best to respect my neighbors by picking up the remnants of my weeding at the point where our yard meets theirs. I don’t think my efforts are really enough to please some of the people in our neighborhood who have a higher standard for lawn maintenance. I think they really want us to edge our grass and neatly manicure our gardens. The yearly homeowners' association letter always includes yard maintenance suggestions that we don’t employ.

When I was a kid I loved my yard even though it grew a little wild. My dad mowed and trimmed within reason but he didn't manicure the grounds. Such attention was unnecessary. Everything was beautiful all on its own and we didn't try to control the beauty or improve on it. What God had made for us was quite acceptable. Today, I tend to my yard with the same yard logic I was raised with. I find it no surprise that my backyard is beautiful to me. God did a good job creating its beauty. Beauty isn't something I had to leave behind. When I grew up, and moved away from some of the most beautiful places I had known, I discovered that God's beautiful world came right along with me.

Leaving my childhood home for my new home in Michigan was hard. There was so much that I was leaving behind. I was so afraid that nothing new could compare to what I once had. I was wrong. Beauty came right along with me. It has been my traveling blessing. What are your traveling blessings and what place do they have in your spiritual autobiography? What good things have remained constant in your life? What remains with you despite the ups and downs of your journey?

Often, our down moments feel very dark and difficult to overcome. If we let the darkness overtake us, it is difficult to find the light. The spirituality of our ups and downs has power. Simply finding the beauty around us can help us see the light. When we start seeing the goodness, the darkness loses much power. By simply drawing out the blessings in the world, we can push back the darkness. It's not so much what we say, but how we choose to live that allows us to overcome the darkest of situations. It's the choice to find God around us that becomes a prayer leading us out of our most difficult places. Choosing to find the light brings us great freedom and can become the inspiration to share our spiritual story.


Sharing My Journey 

Light and dark and my story:

The trees that surround the frame of my painting have meaning. They are miracle trees from a miracle walk I took with a wonderful friend. God came into the woods with us and lit up the tree tops as though they were on fire. All around us were magnificent trees with glowing embers for branches. I believe that everyone in the woods that day, even those who were refusing to know Him, imagined that God was real as they looked up into the glowing sky. I suspect someone made a U-Turn that day, so I include a U-Turn symbol in my composition. I think someone might have made their U-Turn because God reached into their world and made magnificent trees with glowing ember branches. The miracle trees make my painting because they show the power of God. It’s the power that U-Turns are made of.

After miracle trees was a miracle sky that was split in two by a beam of light. The light rose from the horizon and shot up towards the heavens as far as our eyes could see. My wonderful friend and I just stared. It was the most unusual sky I have ever seen. Miracle sky reminds me that my God can split the sky in two. He is my safe place and my shelter from the enemy. The devil scans the horizon but he can’t find me because my God rules the sky. He tells the heavens what to do and they listen. I add the miracle sky to my canvas. The sky’s glowing beam splits my painting in two. It separates the light from the darkness while God keeps me in the shadow of His wings.

My painting reminds me of all the miracle trees and miracle skies of my life. I remember all the incredible moments when God reached into my ordinary life and did something extraordinary for me or someone else. I remember meeting Craig, my miracle prayer team, the respite pink pill, Crazy Kathleen, friends and family who love me, sicknesses healed, hearts softened, marriages mended and the beauty of purple irises. I remember the deer in my parent’s backyard, one rose in a vase, a tiny glass cup of little white and yellow crocuses and dancing with my dad. I recall holding my mom’s hand on the way to the Strawberry Place, playing in the sand with Gerald, trips to the ocean with my friend Maureen and eating potato chips with my oldest brother. I imagine my big sister's magic canvas bag, Emily’s joyous giggling and nursing A.J. with his sweet, warm body cuddled up to mine. My painting reminds me of all the reasons why the battle is worth the fight. God has loved me. God loves me now. The proof is part of me and all around me. My canvas holds the reasons why I will never stop fighting for the life God has promised me.

Spiritual Warfare Art

Worth the Fight
Age 32

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Light and dark and your story:

Life is full of ups and downs. List down moments from your life. Circle the lowest low. Write about the ways you believe God has been present (or not present) in this difficult moment. Ask God to help you see how He has been fully present in this low place. Consider how you are breaking down the darkness by finding God's light mixed in it. Consider the choice to find the goodness, light, and beauty in your story. How does the choice to find God's light fit within your spiritual story or spiritual memoir: as a theme, a desire, or a hope? Write about the ways this choice has influenced your spiritual journey.


Face Fear through Spiritual Autobiography
 

Spiritual journaling can give you courage:

You can face fear and overcome it through spiritual memoir. This page can help you to use a spiritual journal to face your fear, and it can also help you understand the role of fear in your story.

Tornado and Fear

Things start to fall apart when you have fear. That's why I share my stories about facing fear. They help others know that they are not alone and that the physical and emotional effects of fear can be overcome. When things are falling apart, for a fearful person, a simple story of victory can help them overcome fear's controlling power.

I really believe that God has put people in our lives just for us. I believe He talks to us through people. At the point in my life when I was most afraid, my friends spoke peace to my fears without even realizing they were doing so. They had no idea how powerful their words of encouragement were. When stuff got scary, God used people to speak to me. Because of them I started trusting God a little more than I had before.

In my low places, my church has been a powerful source of hope in spite of my fears. The people there see me with God’s eyes. A lot of the time it feels like they see the opposite of what I see in me. When I see weakness they see strength. When I see fear they see courage. When I see instability they see confidence. When I struggled they didn’t quietly remove me from the scene. Instead, they called me out to be something more than I already was. Fully knowing the challenges and difficulties of my life, they spoke of my giftedness, insight, and potential. When I saw darkness creeping in they saw greatness. They saw light. They spoke of promise and potential when I saw nothing. They’ve been like angels.

Does God speak to you through people? Have you ever had someone speak words of courage as you faced your fears? Did they do this without even comprehending the timeliness of their words? Did someone's stories about facing fear make all the difference? Consider how the words and experiences of others have helped you overcome the controlling power of fear. Say a prayer for fear: ask God how to overcome it and ask Him how fear fits into your story. Let your stories about facing fear become part of your spiritual autobiography.


Sharing My Journey

Facing fear and my story:

I make a painting of darkness and light. The angels in my painting compete with the darkness. They’re winning. Scary cellar stairs, spiders and dark, dank crawl spaces fill the darkness. Some places are so dark you can’t even see what’s hiding there. Some places should be dark but they’re not. The light exposes them and strips them of their power. You might notice the places that should be dark, but you can’t miss the angels that surround them. The angels are like cutouts with hard edges that contrast with the darkness around them. They’re like the puzzle pieces from my dream

I like them. I like my angel pieces. They remind me that I’m seizing what God has for me. One day I’ll get all the pieces, and I'll have peace in every corner where there is now fear. I’m going to finish this journey. I will fearlessly collect all the pieces.  I will collect them one God given piece at a time.

My paintings show me how to beat my fear. I just need to stay focused on the truth: God is in even the scariest of places. I need to remember that my own stories about facing fear offer freedom to me and others. When I remember that God is with me in the darkness, I don't fear that things will fall apart. The controlling power of fear loses its control. The physical and emotional effects of fear diminish. I am confident that God is with me. I see there is power over fear within my life story and the life stories of others.

Angels in the Dark

Darkness and Light
Age 35

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Facing fear and your story:

Your journal can become a place for facing and overcoming fear. Think of what you fear the most. Pick your biggest fear, and write it down within the center of a circle. What color, or colors, could help you describe the fear? Fill the circle with the colors that help you describe your fear.

Imagine a life without this fear. What colors would best describe a life free of this fear? Fill the area outside the circle with these colors. Consider the contrast between what is inside and outside your circle. What does the contrast say about the power of fear in your spiritual life? Ask God to help you understand and face your fears. Ask God to show you where your discoveries fit within your spiritual memoir.

Consider stories about facing fear: yours and those of others. Ask God to show you where these stories have a place in your spiritual story. Trust that God will help you fit fear in its rightful place inside your spiritual autobiography. Don't fear including fear in your story! Fear is among our normal human emotions. Sharing a journey that's free of fear wouldn't be honest. Sharing a journey that's honest about fear will set you and others free!


Spiritual Autobiography and Codependency 

Codependency and Spiritual Stories:

Codependency plays a major role in the spiritual stories of many people. Use this page to explore how a spiritual journal can help you understand the role of identifying codependency in your story. 

Codependency Art

I don't want to continue denying the truth: the truth that I care relentlessly about what other people think. This isn't so much of a problem when someone kind, compassionate and loving is around, but when I'm around angry or demanding people Opinion becomes my lord. I've been trying to pretend that I don't care about people's opinions as much as I do. I can no longer avoid the truth that people rule my life. Facing the truth is my only chance at real integrity. It's my only chance at a life ruled by God.

Do you care about what others think? Do people influence and rule your life? The answers to these questions can help you identify codependency's role in your story. Identifying codependency in your relationships is one of the first steps you can take towards overcoming it. We can all identify people pleasing in our relationships, overcome the influence codependency has over us, and celebrate evidence of codependency recovery together. Denying codependency in our lives leaves us stuck in it. Dealing with codependency is an opportunity to enjoy new freedom in our relationships and in our lives.

Who, or what, rules your life? Where do you need God to take over? How is understanding codependency a key to overcoming what is controlling you? Where does God fit into your recovery? How can you celebrate evidence of recovery in your life and in the lives of others? Consider ways that you can come together with others to get support on your journey. Consider finding a place where you can be honest and open about finding freedom from whatever is holding you back. What are your keys for recovery and how are they a part of your spiritual story?


Sharing My Journey 

Identifying codependency in my story:

I thank God for my living angels. They’re all the people I love. They’re all the people who have loved me. When the chips are down they don’t fold. In my crazy, random world they have become my royal flush. They’re the very best hand I’ve been dealt, and it’s a hand I’ve decided that I’m willing to bet my life on. They are, when all else fails, my hope. They are God’s voice when I can’t hear Him anymore.

Today my angels wear roulette wheel dresses. I use playing cards to give voice to some particularly disturbing possibilities. One is no more or less likely than the other. They’re all random and undesirable. My angels speak. They say, “Pick a card, any card.” They don’t give me answers. All they offer are more questions.

My life is full of difficult realities. Accepting my powerlessness over my present situation may seem depressing, but that isn't the case for me. Disturbing possibilities are laid out before me and I have more questions than answers BUT knowing I am powerless over it all is actually a relief. I'm even beginning to celebrate these first signs of recovery. I'm celebrating my recovery from trying to control what I can't control. Things are a little bit quieter. There is a little peace in places that there has never been peace before. Won't you join me as I celebrate my first tastes of recovery?

Recovery Art

Pick a Card, Any Card
Age 38

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Identifying codependency in your story:

There are many recovery programs that I can choose from. I can join a support group, work with a qualified counselor, speak with my pastor, surround myself with the support of a few good women, and read about the ways I can move towards greater wellness. Regardless of your beliefs, there are steps that you can take to get healthier. Just the simplicity of a good diet and regular exercise can help us get on top of the stuff that is pulling us down. Difficult realities don't have to destroy us. We can choose to get the help we need as part of our personal recovery.

Consider making your journal a place where you can plan your own recovery. Begin by listing the difficult realities you face. Ask God what you should do about these challenges. Write down what you hear Him saying to you. Use two colors as you write: one color for your words and the other color for God's words. Have a conversation with God, write it down, and believe you can hear what God has to say.

Make sure you make a plan for getting the support you need. Support groups and professional services are indispensable weapons for overcoming our greatest difficulties. Churches, counselors, and support groups want to help you recover from codependency and other challenges you face. Take some time to write up your personal support plan inside your journal. Make a commitment to follow your plan so that you can begin to celebrate your own recovery. Trust that God will help you find a place for recovery inside your spiritual story. Make spiritual autobiography your chance to experience recovery!


Hope Not Resentment

Write a story where resentment becomes hope:

Cross Art

Spiritual autobiography, or spiritual memoir, can help you find hope! Journey on Canvas will help you keep a spiritual journal for finding the hope in your story: even in the places where there is anger, resentment, and discouragement.


I have considered the role of hope in my story. I want to protect the people I love. I want the world we live in to be safe and true. This means I'm stuck thinking about some negative stuff I need to tackle so I can find the hope mingled in it.

I think about resenting people for their failures, and I see it's pointless. There's no one to blame. Sure, people have hurt me, but it's not their fault that I find myself where I am today. Anyway, I've hurt people too. Life hurts and there's no one to blame. If I don't find some hope, I've only got myself to blame. Strangely, there is some hope. For the first time God is my only hope. It's the first time I'm not expecting someone, or something, other than God to be my hope.

God has been the story inside my story and the energy that has fueled my spiritual autobiography. He has been my reason to share, heal pain and resentments, and find hope to encourage others.

What, or who, do you look to for hope when challenges, resentments, and painful experiences start to overwhelm you? What is the source of you true hope? How does God, and the hope He has to give, fit within your story?


Sharing My Journey 

Finding my hope despite my resentments:

I ask God, “Why? “What’s the point of everything that has happened?” He tells me that my life matters regardless of what happens. He tells me not to be afraid of the scary places. He tells me that He can use me wherever, and however, He chooses. He says, “Alisa, don’t be afraid of where I will send you. Wherever you go, and whatever happens, I’m going to use you. Your life, no matter what it seems, is not sad. It’s not hopeless. No matter how dark things may seem my light is going to shine. You’re going to shine.”

I wonder if God really knows about me right now. I consider all the evidence. I remember all the ways He has been faithful to me. I see that all the evidence points to Him. It all adds up to a God that I can hang my hope on.

Hope remains. “Hope Remains,” is the message behind my latest creation. That’s the part that matters. What matters is that at my very bottom hope still remains.

You can trust God with the hard realities of your life. Once you let God in He becomes you hope and your reason to tell your story. Finally, your life is full of encouragement to offer others.

Painting about Hope

Hope Remains
Age 38

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey

Finding hope despite your resentments:

Spiritual autobiography can include emotions like anger, unforgiveness, and resentment. It can include your battles to overcome addictions, anxieties, and even the ordinary challenges of our lives. Spiritual autobiography is about all the stuff that happens to us, and it's about what God does in spite of our stuff. It's about the condition of our heart and our desire for our heart to change.

Grab a small ball of clay. Hold it in your hands and allow it to reflect the condition of your heart. Consider how the condition of your heart is a reflection of your present spirituality. Would you like a change of heart? What would that change of heart look like? How would you handle the clay differently if you were free of your resentments and anger? Write about these differences in your journal. Invite God to soften your heart. Trust that your heart has a story to share.


Collage Work!


Peacock Feather Collage 2,
Age 46

Peacock feathers, glitter, yarn, tissue and torn papers. I am a child again: creating using whatever I can find before me.


Hope Work!

Angel Children with Wings
Children of Hope,
Age 40

Right outside the doors of my childhood home was beauty and life. As kids my brother and I climbed viney trees, swung from branches and enjoyed long roped tire swings. A choice of sun or shade was everywhere. Open fields sat right beside thick forests. I can still taste all the fruit that grew there: pears, three varieties of apples, huckleberries, red and black raspberries, strawberries, sweet and sour cherries, walnuts and concord grapes. In the summer there was no opportunity for hunger. We could grab a snack right off a handy tree or bush. Today just about every tree, bush and vine has run its course. You can find trees lying half on the ground, their roots barely reaching into the earth, straining for connection with their life source. Everything is dying. It's all a reflection of what's happening just inside the doors of the home I grew up in. My parents, themselves, sit inside straining. Like the trees just outside their windows, they do what they must to make it along as well as they can for as long as they can.

The trees are a metaphor for the reality of all our aging. Some of us still have some fruit to bear, our leaves are still green and we stand fairly tall. Others of us slump, our fruit long ago enjoyed and our leaves brown, hanging on to life for as long as life allows. The metaphor makes me sad the way it reminds me of the grandeur of what once was. I create collages of the metaphor to capture the sadness and give it a chance to speak. I hope, somehow, by giving my sadness a voice I'll feel just a little bit less sad.

I am saddened by what I see lying about the yard I used to play in as a child: broken sticks, rotting trunks, toppled trees, yellowed weedy grass and rotting apples. My children have opened the creaky door leading out from the back porch ready to play and are unaware of my sadness. The fallen apple tree before them is an opportunity for play. They know nothing of what this tree once was to me. All they can see is what it could be for them today: fun. Emily has climbed right on top of the largest branch while Zachy watches. A.J. immediately picks up a stick and wields it like a knight in battle. "Carry on kids," I think. "Make a better way for your children than I have been able to make for you. Make a better way for your children than my own parents have been able to make for me. Battle hard, A.J., for things will get old and pass away but your legacy is my hope. Even in the midst of what is dying all around you, my sweet children, you are my children of hope."

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Spiritual Autobiography Blog 

Spiritual Autobiography Articles


Satisfying Work!


Fancy Chair,
Age 47

For the longest time, I couldn't look at my art and be satisfied. Most of the people around me like my work from 20 years ago better than they like what I make today. That's because I stuck to the rules back then. I believe these people don't understand the artistic maturity behind how I made this painting work. You try using all these elements (lace, paper, glitter, oil pastels, found objects, ink and acrylics) together and see what you can make. Chances are, you will have Macaroni Art. There's no shame in that: you have to start somewhere. But, you are remiss if you think that's what you see here. It took me a long time to get here and I'm done being ashamed.

Redeeming Work! 

Flying Angel
Redemption,
Age 39 


I've known some people who taught me about redemption. They weren't perfect people, but they had a great capacity to love others despite their imperfections. They didn't define me, or others, by their lowest moments. They were a taste of God.


Yarn Art Work!


Yarn Swirl Collage,
Age 46


Yarn can keep a child amused for hours at a time. I remember that being true for me. I made pom poms, dolls, and collages out of yarn. I was pretty small when I made my first yarn creations. Today I use what I remember from that time to create.


Prayerful Work!

People Walking on the Beach

People Holding Hands Together
What if we all held hands?
Age 42 

I forget about the power of holding hands. I isolate myself and pray: my door locked, a private candle lit, and in silence. Others are praying at the same time but I don’t know who they are, what they are asking God for and what they need for restoration. I have to ask the question, “What If We All Held Hands?” What if we all held hands and prayed: in unison, holding hands, and calling out to God together. Alone life just seems too hard sometimes. It appears that our prayers don’t make it to their destination. Together our prayers are an explosion that drives the advancement of God’s kingdom. Together we make a prayer explosion in our life and in the lives of those whose hands we hold. Consider what would happen if we all held hands and prayed.


Gift Work!


Woman Sitting on Stump
Stump,
Age 41

I thought that the passing of the old apple tree in my parents’ backyard would bring me only grief. Every time something dies in their yard it feels so metaphorical: as though the death of everything symbolizes the inevitable death of my parents. How could there be any real joy or peace in that? All that remains of that old apple tree today is a stump. To my wonderment, that stump is a gift: it’s the perfect seat. Now I have a place to sit and watch the old pass away and the new grow. Strangely, there is some joy and peace to be found in that old stump.


Open Door Work!


Pushing Open Car Door

Car Door Opening
I Open the Door,
Age 41

I used to think that I had to stay in certain situations. I didn’t realize that I could make the choice to leave: to open the door. I’d let people direct their anger at me, I’d apologize to fix things and I’d stick around thinking I was the solution to someone else’s problem. Now, on a good day, I realize that I can open the door. I can leave some situations and let them get “solved” by those who need to own the problem. This kind of “leaving” isn’t just freedom for me; it’s also freedom for others. Now we’re all taking control of our own stuff and things sometimes actually do get better without me.


Blessed Work!

Baby in Garbage Dream
I am Blessed
Age 35

I consider my baby growing inside of me. With the 3rd it will be even harder to dodge the possibilities. No matter how hard I try to eliminate the risks they will still exist. With only one of me, and three of them, it’s impossible to manage all sources of harm. Even if I’m the most selfless mom ever, I can’t be everywhere at once. I am simply not enough. I see that having children is no assurance that I get to keep them for my lifetime. It’s a miracle that I’ve managed to keep them for as long as I have. They’re not safe and well because I’m a good mother. They’re safe and well because I am blessed. I don’t deserve the blessings but I am, most definitely, blessed.