Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New photoshop images

Happy Spring! April showers have indeed hit the Chicago area, and we are hoping and praying that May brings just as many flowers!  Here's a couple of images I used Kim Klassen's textures on:

Hope you are having a beautiful day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy (Day After) Easter!

Yesterday was a very jubilant Easter celebration at our church (Sanctuary 1010).  If you take a look at my latest post you will see a couple of pictures showing a bunch of boxes wrapped in brown paper.  Here's what they looked like in the back of our worship space:
There were 75 small boxes, and each person was supposed to take one upon entering.  Since we had 60 people at last year's Easter service, we thought 75 would be sufficient.  WRONG!  We ended up with 110 people at our church.  We meet in a movie theater that holds 120 at top capacity -- literally standing room only!  Very exciting.  And people did share their boxes so I think every family had at least one.

After some rousing resurrection music by the worship band (did I mention that my husband was the leader yesterday?!), the pastor talked about how the outside of the package doesn't always indicate what is on the inside.  For example, Jesus walked on earth and, for the most part, looked very ordinary.  But on Easter his resurrected life was revealed.  New life burst forth from out of the old package.  To help illustrate that, we had Easter Lilies placed in boxes and looking like they had bloomed and burst through the packaging:
During our face2face time with God, each person was invited to open his/her box.  Inside was the final cross in our lenten collection -- the glory cross, representing the power of Christ living in each of us, but hidden in our ordinary packaging. 

This is what the front of the worship space looked like:
It was great to have so many join us for such a celebratory morning. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

More Lenten Crosses

This is called the Greek Cross, and it looks like a plus sign.  I have to confess I didn't want to come to church the morning we were going to interact with this cross because it's also called the cross of suffering.  The 4 points of the cross and the center represent the places where Christ was pierced for our sins -- head, two hands, feet and heart.  As the pastor spoke of each of the places, he smeared a bit of red paint on that area (above you see the bottom of the cross, the feet).  He talked about us asking God to pierce us -- to pierce our minds so that we are more focused on God and his kingdom, to pierce our hands so we are more open to serving, to pierce our feet so we begin to really go where God wants us to go, and to pierce our hearts so that we become more passionate about the things that God wants us to be passionate about.  During our response time, we were invited to come up and drive a nail in the place where we want Christ to "pierce" us.  It was a powerful time as we heard the nails being driven into the wood.  Here's a picture of the whole cross as we used it during our prayer time last week.  During that time, we had a chance to gather around, placing our hands directly on the nails and praying for our church to be "pierced" in those 5 areas.

Last week was Palm Sunday, and we studied the Celtic Cross.  I didn't get great pictures, since our worship space is quite dark and I didn't want to use the flash.  The Celtic Cross looks like a regular cross with a circle in the intersection of the two beams.  Our pastor talked about crossroads in our lives -- the horizontal piece was like our lives as we move in the dimension of what we can see and know.  But the vertical piece represents the fact that God intersected our lives in the person of Jesus.  The circle represents Christ unifying us with God and with each other. . We set up a large celtic cross out of burlap so that we could walk on it and pray though these conceps. We made the circle out of palm branches with candles interspersed. At the base of the cross, communion was set up, since it is at the base of the cross that we all meet together.

I'm probably not explaining it very clearly, and sorry the pictures are so dark, but it was a really meaningful time.

Tomorrow is Easter -- hallelujah!  Here's a couple of pictures which gives a little hint of what our celebratory worship is going to look like:

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lenten Prayer -- part 2

Yesterday I told you about the crosses of Lent that we are doing at our church.  Today I want to mention two more that we used in our Sunday morning services and then prayed with at our church's prayer gathering last week.

The Maltese Cross:
We briefly learned some of the history of this cross.  What I remember is that it was found on the Island of Malta (hence the name!) and used by the Order of St. John.  The eight points represented the 8 beatitudes, which we have lettered on the sections of the cross.  We interacted with this cross on Sunday by writing the names of those individuals that seemed to exemplify those "beatitude traits" to us.  Then we prayed over it by thanking God for their lives and asking that we also learn to live those traits in our lives.

The Mission Cross:
I don't have a good picture of the cross before we interacted with it, but it is four "crosslets" which are joined at a 90 degree angle at their bases.  They each point in a different direction, hence the name "Mission Cross".  When we interacted with this cross, we cut pictures of people out of magazines who represented individuals that we wanted to share God's love with.  At the end, we put the silhouette of Christ over top, that we might all be joined together as his body.  During our prayer time, we prayed for the ability to show God's love to all the people represented.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lenten Prayer

Our church has been doing a Sunday morning series on "The Crosses of Lent", highlighting a different historical cross each week and the meaning behind it.  Each week has been rich with meaning.  Then this past Tuesday night, we gathered for prayer around the various crosses.  We used 4 of them and set each one on a different table with candlelight.  Then, as a (small) group, we moved from table to table and prayed using the theme of each cross as inspiration.  I didn't get pics on Tuesday, but I was able to come in on Wednesday morning (when there was a bit more light) and take pictures of the prayer stations.  Maybe I'll just do 2 today and 2 next time.

Station 1:  The Anchor Cross -- The cross of hope

 We used an actual anchor in our church service and at our prayer gathering.  During our Sunday morning time, we talked about how our faith can serve as an anchor when we are drifting, expriencing storms, or just need to rest.  Each of us was given a card with the image of the anchor cross stamped on it.  We were to identify something (a Bible verse, a truth) that we can cling to that anchors us in times of need, and write it on the card.  Then we were invited to tie the card to the main anchor with twine.  It was a powerful way to remember the source of our hope.

At this table during our prayer time, we read aloud some of the "anchor phrases" that were written on the cards, and then wrote the names of people we were praying for that could receive hope from that specific verse or phrase.  One very poignant message on a card was written (and signed) by a preschooler who neatly printed, "GOD MADE THE STARS".  We wrote several names on that card -- people who needed to remember what a mighty God is able to do for them.

I'll share more next time.  I'm pretty excited about tomorrow's theme at church.  It's the Celtic Cross, and I bought 18 yards of burlap in preparation for tomorrow's service.  I'd better bring my camera!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words of Encouragement

My college-age daughter was having a very stressful day today, so this morning I sent her this image and these words from Matthew 6 in the Message.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers -- most of which are never even seen -- don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving.  People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don't worry about missing out.  Your'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

The flower pictured is a called "Prairie Smoke", one of those wildflowers that may never be seen, yet look at how glorious it is!  I find that I turn to these verses alot when I need to remember how significant my life is to God and how much I can trust him to work out even the smallest details.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Opportunities

I've been playing around with the look of my blog lately, mostly by trial and error and not having the slightest idea what I am doing.  But I did recently learn how to make a blog banner, and I think this one turned out OK for a first try.  The inspiration for this banner came from Kim Klassen's Photoshop Skinny-Mini eCourse.  It's a free 10-day class, but jam-packed with so much information and inspiration.  If you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and want to learn more, be sure to check it out!  You can get to her site with the button on the right (and down a little).  She also has a Photoshop Essentials class which begins the end of this month, and I can't wait to get started with it!

A couple more examples of what I have done as a result of her class are here:

Here's the before shot:

Another one that I cropped and added layers to:
The "before" of this one:

I have to get busy -- I'm participating in a craft show at our church in a couple of weeks.  More about that in a future post.  In the meantime, I hope spring is arriving soon in your corner of the world!