Journaling Outside the Lines

Like almost everything in our world, journaling has evolved over time. In its early days, journaling was like a daily report of what is going on in our individual worlds. Journaling methods like this gave us Anne Frank’s diary, so they obviously have their merit. However, in our new age of social media and Pinterest, things have become increasingly colorful and creative. If you have already committed to the traditional journaling and can sit down and write in a notebook daily or even weekly, then keep it up! I admire you! It takes a certain kind of dedication to consistently stay on top of something like that. These few tips might give you some ideas on how to expand your craft and add a new twist. However, if you’re like me and journaling sounds really great for the first few days and then it gets lost in a drawer somewhere to never be touched again, maybe these tips and ideas will help to keep you interested.

image31. Wreck this Journal-This book gathered a huge following around 2012 and we are using it in our Fall camps this year! Written by Keri Smith, each page has a set of vague instructions on how to destroy the journal. Ideas can include anything from “take this journal into the shower with you” to “fill this page with only 4-letter words”. The idea is to push you out of your comfort zone and actively participate in the world around you. The tag line for this book is, “To Create is to Destroy” — Athentikos LOVES how that lines up with our curriculum! The ISBN is 9780399161940, or you can just search the title online and find it at your local bookstore. If you’re a fan of Pinterest, you can search “Wreck This Journal” and find endless interpretations of each of the instructions.

Here are a few websites that might help you:

http://www.wikihow.com/Creatively-Ruin-Your-Wreck-This-Journal

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/wreck-it-journal/

http://www.trinaisartsy.com/2012/04/wreck-this-journal.html

(Just so you know, the following link does include some bad language.)

http://ideasforwreckthisjournal.tumblr.com/

2. Bullet Journaling– This is the newest craze of 2016 and I’m going to warn you, it looks intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be!

According to a Buzzfeed article I read, Bullet Journaling is perfect for:

  • People who have a million little to-do lists floating around
  • People who are into goal-setting and habit tracking
  • People who like stationery, journaling, scrapbooking, beautiful pens, etc.
  • People who really love planners or people who wantto really love planners.
  • People who would really like to keep a journal but are having trouble sticking with the habit

But that doesn’t mean you have to fulfill any or all of the requirements in order to participate. The idea is to let your brain spill out onto paper so it’s not so jam packed all the time! Your to-do list, your grocery list, important events for the month. I have even heard people using it to stay on track with things like exercising. You can go to http://www.bulletjournal.com  to learn more about Bullet Journaling or, like Wreck This Journal, you can simply google away and find tons of pictures from different people trying it for themselves.

journaling2So why the journaling craze? Maybe it’s because it’s good for you! The American Psychological Association (APA) has an article on their website (link here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun02/writing.aspx ) which goes into detail about just how much writing can benefit people, psychologically and physically. This blog can’t solve all your health issues by telling you to write, obviously you need to have mental health and physical health practitioners on your side to make sure you are at your very best. However, we can say that writing has the power to make you feel good and can help you to interpret your emotions and experiences which is why we are so excited to share these ideas with you!

It’s important to remember that the people posting photos are often well-practiced in the art of journaling. Many of them have hobbies that include calligraphy or design. These journals aren’t about making things perfect. Wreck this Journal is designed with destruction in mind and Bullet Journaling is for people who want a fun way of staying organized. It’s important that you have a sense of ownership over your journal. If you create it the way you saw someone else do it because you think it has to be that way, you’ll be let down by the results. The journal will only be great if you stay true to who you are when you use it.

So a few tips for creating a journal for you to love:

  • Invest in your favorite writing utensils (Pens, pencils, markers, crayons, etc.)
  • Find a size that works for you. Small and portable, large and spacious, or somewhere in between.
  • Stickers are fun and take no artistic skill. Find some with your favorite characters or colors.
  • Set attainable goals for journaling. Writing everyday might seem impossible at first, but if you start with once a week, it could get easier.
  • If you have kids, feel free to include them! Give them a page per week (or on whichever schedule works for you) and ask them to decorate it for you for inspiration. You could also write them notes and let them respond. Including your kid(s) can help keep you on track with writing as well as inspire your kid(s) to practice their creativity.

Good luck with your journal! Let us know which method you’re going to try or if you’ve got another option that works best for you. We’d love to hear about your experiences with journaling.

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I AM ART and the Unity of Soul and Body

The premise behind the I AM ART camps is that through art—a physical, concrete means of expression and learning—God teaches us and draws us closer to Himself. I have seen this happen for both the children who participate in the camps and the artists who lead the workshops. The children learn how to look at their lives differently and see, instead of inescapable problems, opportunities to overcome their challenges and choose their own paths. The adults, meanwhile, also learn many things, including humility and trust. I AM ART camps are weeks of personal revelation for everyone involved.

So back to the premise. Why has God decided to teach us these things through art camps? Why did He inspire Scott and Amelia Moore to begin I AM ART? Why didn’t He decide, instead, to teach us all of these things at church or in prayer?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I have a few thoughts.

First of all, God of course does teach us these things in church and in prayer. But we are somewhat poor creatures, and often don’t understand Him. Or maybe we’ve fallen out of the habit of going to church and praying. Or maybe we were never in it. So in His infinite mercy, God seeks us through other means.

But, art? Why something so concrete, so physical—something that gets on your hands and in your ears and often takes days to scrub off? I believe one answer to this question is that, actually, “man’s soul is not in his body as a hand in a glove or as a rower in a boat” (Summa Theologica, part 1, question 76). Mind-body dualism, popularized by the father of modern western philosophy, René Descartes, in the mid-1600s, is actually a lie. We are not souls caged in bodies. We are human beings and our substance is both soul and body, substantially joined.

Perhaps this seems obvious to you or perhaps you feel shocked by the claim. I personally think it explains a lot about human existence and the Bible.

For example, the mind-body unity is why, for better or worse, we learn best when all of our senses are engaged. Until I am burned the first time, I do not believe that the source of the warm cheery glow in my fireplace will hurt me. And until Thomas put his finger into Jesus’ side, he would not believe that Jesus had risen. (Note that Jesus, while disappointed that Thomas would not believe Him otherwise, actually encouraged Thomas to put his finger in His side.)

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The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio

Learning from the physical world is also corroborated by Scripture: “Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made.” (Romans 1:20).

The unity of our souls and bodies also explains

  • why concrete sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations connect us more strongly to our memories and emotions than anything else
  • why we communicate meaning with our bodies
  • why the words “I love you” change meaning based on how the speaker has manipulated their vocal chords to achieve a specific tone of voice, where the speaker directs their eyes, and how the speaker is physically touching (or not touching) you
  • why practicing physical discipline helps us achieve spiritual discipline as well
  • why Jesus asked us to not only pray but to fast as well
  • why Jesus laid hands on people, mixed his saliva with dirt to open blind men’s eyes, commanded that we be baptized with water, and, most importantly, took on flesh in order to bleed and die for us

The list could go on and on, but the essential point is incredible when you think about it. Our souls and bodies are substantially united. We are not one or the other, we are the unity of both. God created the physical world from nothing as a divine gift to help us understand and love Him. This knowledge imbues absolutely everything with meaning and sanctity.

And it is one reason that we can be sure God communicates with us through art.

hands covered in paint

Weathering the Storm

Recently, Hurricane Matthew became a very real threat for Haiti, the Bahamas, and the east coast of the United States. For a while, it appeared as though Matthew would be making landfall in Florida as a category 4 hurricane right where my school is located. Students became antsy as the hurricane neared and we began packing our belongings in preparation for an evacuation. Although many of us are Florida natives or at least long-time residents, a major hurricane had not hit Florida in over a decade, back when many of us were about 10 years old. During the storm preparation and during evacuation, I noticed some things that really stuck out.

  • I overheard roommates and friends asking each other to text or call whenever they could so that they knew each other were safe.
  • Students began assisting in covering computers in common areas and offices in case the roof began to leak.
  • Friends, like one of my own, began offering their houses as safe havens for students who were not able to go to their own homes.
  • Some professors began sending emails before the school had even officially cancelled classes that they would be cancelling class in hopes that students could prepare themselves for the storm and leave quickly.

It is moments like these that it is clear how much good there is in the world. How much we need one another to support us during seemingly disastrous moments.

According to Judith Landau in her 2010 article, Communities That Care for Families, “When the balance of stressors and resources is disrupted by unpredictable or massive loss, individuals, families, and communities develop unconscious adaptive behaviors and coping strategies” (Landau). Unlike my school, these are not always healthy behaviors or coping. Many of us know stories where riots and looting become the headline news during natural disasters. Often times, we separate from those around us when we might just need support the most. However, in her article Landau continues discussing how a sense of connectedness and solidarity eliminates counterproductive “we versus they” distinctions (Landau). My school got lucky and Matthew stayed off the coast of Florida. It moved quickly enough to avoid any serious damage here while other areas and countries such as North Florida, the Bahamas, and Haiti were not as fortunate. However, this isn’t simply about surviving a hurricane. It’s about finding community when faced with an unknown.

Team members of Athentikos get-together in a big video chat multiple times before their trips and the first few days before camp are spent team building and getting to know each other. The word “community” comes from the Latin root “communis”, meaning “common”. I had to google that information and I laughed when I found out the root meaning because it seemed so obvious. Of course community is common… we need it! Even self-declared independent people like myself can’t do it all alone. People need people. From a young age, we begin looking at and learning about the world and people around us. Then we grow and start to pick communities for ourselves, ones that fit our values and goals. You’ve picked Athentikos as one of your communities. You’ve picked it by going on one of the trips or donating to someone who is fundraising for their own trip or even reading this blog.

Guatemala isn’t a hurricane. However, it is something new for a lot of us… and that can be scary in and of itself.  So we have to ask ourselves how we plan to weather the storm. I recommend reaching out to your various communities for support. Athentikos does everything it can in order that its team members feel prepared to reach new heights. This includes Kimberly Shepley offering her counseling services at no cost so that we can serve at the very best of our abilities and be as prepared as possible. There’s also the mentoring program where people who have been on trips in the past can help assist you in preparation. Like my school, Athentikos is a community. Not even a hurricane could change that.

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Potential in Poverty

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5: 3-6

When you become an Athentikos team member for I AM ART, you are strongly encouraged to watch Athentikos’s documentary, Reparando. So, armed with my favorite pillow and blanket, I set up my laptop and sat on my bed with my roommate and we began watching. Neither of us really knew anything about Guatemala, so this was going to be an educational experience for the two of us. If you didn’t know, Guatemala suffered through a 36-year civil war, the longest in Latin American history. Their civil war lasted longer than I’ve been alive. As a result, Guatemala has been struggling to rebuild, which is quite a challenge when poverty levels are high. The most extreme examples of poverty are slums in “Zonas Rojas,” or “Red Zones,” where the crime rates are high and the standard of living is low. Reparando focuses on La Limonada, one of the largest slums in Central America, with an estimation of 60,000 inhabitants. The conditions in which people are living are horrible. There is violence, hunger, intense pollution — things that most of us could never even imagine. And some of the people living in those conditions are children. There are kids living in dangerous places, experiencing traumatic things, stuck in a cycle of poverty, all for a war they had nothing to do with.

A study done in 1994 by Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, and Klebanov looked at poverty’s impact on child development. They concluded, “Family income and poverty status are powerful determinants of the cognitive development and behavior of children” (Duncan et al., 1994). And unfortunately, nothing about that conclusion is surprising. Poverty-ridden areas are known for drugs, crime, and low standards for education. This information sounds hopeless, I know. No one wants to hear that there are children in these conditions. Casa Bernabé (House of Comfort) is an orphanage and Oasis Residential Home takes in girls who have been the victims of sexual abuse. The kids from Casa Bernabé and Oasis Residential Home have been in extremely rough conditions. There’s nothing easy about that.

Fortunately, coming from a difficult background isn’t a life sentence. Resilience is the ability to adapt to challenging or threatening circumstances and kids are notoriously resilient. But that doesn’t mean just hoping for the best. Change requires action. Athentikos is helping kids learn how to express themselves and process the world around them through creativity. This isn’t something that will instantly transform Guatemala. Our camps will not reverse the problems that their civil war caused. It’s not going to fix the world. But it will, in a unique and beautiful way, change their individual worlds. I read that proactive orientation is “taking initiative in one’s own life and believing in one’s own effectiveness” (Alvord & Grados, 2005). Immediately I thought, “that’s what Athentikos is doing.” We’re teaching these kids to believe in themselves and to see the possibilities that are available to them. We hear over and over again about how children are the future, so it’s important we treat them well. Their lives have not been easy but they have potential to create beautiful art and tell their stories.

If you want to watch Reparando, the incredible documentary I mentioned, you can rent it on the Athentikos website for $2 or purchase it for $10 (https://athentikos.com/reparando/). This documentary solidified my passion for going to Guatemala and it’s well worth it to see how the people of Guatemala are finding their potential in poverty.

View More: http://ameliajmoore.pass.us/iamart2014

Connecting with Kathlyn

kathlynWe are excited to officially announce that Kathlyn Beyer is our full-time In-Country Coordinator for I AM ART  in Guatemala. Kathlyn lives full-time in Guatemala with her family and has participated in the I AM ART camps for the last two years. She wears many hats as part of our operations team including logistics for hotels, transportation, meeting with artists in Guatemala, organizing materials, scheduling our translators, and she’s a fabulous photographer! Kathlyn also enjoys drawing, painting and music. She’s a great fit for our team with her organizational skills, love of kids, the arts, Spanish skills, and heart for God! Here’s a little more about Kathlyn:
What brought you to Guatemala?
Some family friends began a long journey of adoptions and mission ending in a move and new ministry planting here in Guatemala.  Before they made the move, they brought down short-term teams of which I was a team member.  I loved Guatemala.  When I returned home I agreed with my sister, who had previously visited Guatemala on a Short-term, that our family should take a trip to Guatemala together; that wish became a reality in 2011.  Our friends had moved down 2 months before our visit and had a great vision of ministry growth.  They asked my parents to join them in their efforts.  To which my parents responded, “we will pray for someone to fill the need.”  1 year later they felt God was asking them to consider being the answer to their prayers.  And so, the visits and church sharing, tears and prayers began.  We made the move in May of 2013.  I was 20.  Yes, I could have stayed back “home” in the states.  But, as you will soon discover, how could I?
What did you think about moving when your parents first started talking and praying about it?
I was thrilled. I had already left my heart in Guatemala, so I was anxious to be reunited with it.  God had provided a way and I was more than excited to be able to make such a move with the people closest to me, my family.
What is your favorite thing about living in Guatemala?
The color, the people, diversity in landscape from region to region. The colors are vibrant and give life to the concrete dwellings.  They also tell stories of the history and culture, wrapping the people in a rainbow of patterns. Family is important. The people are welcoming, lively, and always celebrating something or someone.  The countryside spreads from the ocean to the Caribbean.  With 22  volcanoes, many mountains and lots of farmland, Guatemala is an exciting and incredibly photogenic country to live in.
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There are so many epic places to visit in Guatemala, what is your favorite place to visit?
I unfortunately haven’t been to many of the touristic destinations.  That is something I would like to improve on.  I love to go to the beach.  I find it relaxing, but the sand is HOT.  Lake Atitlan is another great destination… so pretty, but frequented by tourists.  I like to go to beautiful places that I don’t have to share with a ton of people.
On the flip side, what do you miss the most from the US (besides friends or family)?
Outdoor adventures, peanut butter M&Ms, unlimited internet and phone use, clearance sales, car trips to see friends and family, Panera Bread Co., etc.
Why did you decide to join the Athentikos I AM ART leadership team?
Art has been a part of me since I was very young.  I remember creating things from twisty ties, painting rocks, sketching on Sundays, etc. as a pretty frequent part of my day to day life.  When I moved to Guatemala with my family I didn’t have any real direction as to what I should be doing. Naturally, when I heard of Athentikos I AM ART camps I was hooked.  I love the outlet it provided for me to use my creative/artistic abilities/hobbies in an impacting the Kingdom focused way.  The first week had such an impact on me and everyone else involved I just knew it was something I would want to continue being a part of.
What do you enjoy most about the I AM ART camp?
Watching the children experience and create during the week and connecting with them throughout the week.
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How do you see the I AM ART camp impact the kids?
I AM ART gives the kids an outlet to express themselves in ways they haven’t otherwise explored.  Throughout the week the kids slowly open up and begin to trust their leaders and share their hearts.  It’s a safe environment for healing to take place in the lives and hearts of the children.
You are a talented artist in several areas, tell us a little about your creative “hobbies.”
I grew up in a singing family.  Music happens randomly throughout the house any time of the day.  I love to join in on the music making: singing, playing violin, guitar, and piano.  I’ve been practicing photography for the past couple of years. I love documenting life, the faces of loved ones, the beauty of Guatemala, and pushing myself creatively with the camera settings.  I also love to sketch and paint.
A huge thanks to Kathlyn for telling us about herself. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her as part of our team. She is an incredible addition and we appreciate all of her hard work and passion!