Arrive and Let the Journey Begin Again!

Arriving: Ready to Share Your Spiritual Memoir!

Getting ready to share your spiritual memoir is a process. You can learn about how to start, and finish, this process by using a spiritual journal to share your spiritual autobiography. This site is about how to share your story to encourage, give hope, and empower yourself and others. If you have been keeping a spiritual journal, you have probably discovered that God's greatest story telling is often shared within the context of an ordinary life. This page will give you some ideas about the powerful role of the ordinary life in spiritual autobiography.

I believe God really does incredible things with an ordinary life. I know this is true because of the simple ways the rhythms and realities of the lives of others have been life saving for me. I know few things more incredible than the ways the lives of others have breathed life into my very soul. God is truly the king of the ordinary and the author of the extraordinary. He uses our ordinary lives to do His greatest work. It is my prayer that He has used mine and will also use yours. It is why I have told my story. It is why I have shared my Journey on Canvas.

I've not just invited you to receive my journey. I've encouraged you to begin sharing your story as well. Perhaps you have arrived at a place where you can begin to offer your story to others?

Our stories are the gift of spiritual memoir. Our testimonies of God's faithfulness have power: the power to reveal God's constant presence in every life. When we tell our story, we reveal the truth that ordinary lives are covered with the fingerprints of God. Release the power of spiritual autobiography. Tell your story. Find unexpected hope.

Read a Spiritual Autobiography: Dancing in the Doghouse



King Of The Ordinary

Your hand in every life-
Your purpose in every moment-
Lord of the extraordinary-
King of the ordinary-
Our awesome God.


Sharing My Journey: How I Got Ready to Share My Story

I believe what Jesus says about us. He says we’re not all that different. One day, in church, my pastor had us play the “I’ve Never, BUT…..” Game. This game reminded me of the ways we’re not all that different. If you’re human you can play this game. You just put yourself in someone else’s shoes to play it. If you ever spanked your kid too hard you could play the game by seeing inside the heart and mind of the child abuser. You’d play the game by saying, “I’ve never abused a child, BUT I have lost my temper and hit my kid in anger. I’m not a child abuser but I think I understand how it’s possible to become one.” The game was meant to humble us. It was meant to make us see the ways we are connected to the people around us. It was meant to make us see that we are connected to the good, bad and ugly of life. It was meant to show us that we hold hands with all of humanity, not just the people we know and like.

My latest collage is of two beautiful angels who are holding hands. They remind me of all the people who I’m connected to. I’m not just connected to the people I love and care about. I’m connected to the dangerous driver who cut me off in traffic, the schizophrenic man in the wheelchair, the doctor who is completely indifferent, the lesbian woman seeking acceptance, the man who forgets his baby in the car on a sweltering day, the cashier who burns with rage because of my two extra express lane items, and the uptight neighbor whose life priority is grass edging. I’m connected to the psychiatrist who forgets about his patients, people who make sport of marginalizing others, the neighbor who ignores the fire engine in my driveway, a teenager who torments little children, the Bi-Polar woman and the friend who viciously backstabs me. I’m connected to the woman who abandons her child, the man that thinks three rounds of electric shock therapy is really wonderful for his mom, the guy who mauls me against my will, the man with a movement disorder, the catatonic woman and the institutionalized patient. I hold hands with all of these people. I’ve never…..BUT only by the grace of God.

I used to ask God to make me nice, so I could feel superior. I wanted God to cure me of my self-loathing, so I could look at myself in the mirror and like what I saw. I begged God to absolve me, so I wouldn’t have to speak the words that would shed light on my darkness. I didn’t want to speak the words, “I am a terrible sinner.”  I prayed that my life would be perfect and that I would never be sick or in pain. I asked God to take my guilt and shame away. I also prayed for stuff and for things to go my way. I used God. I look back on what I’ve felt about people, all the ways I’ve been angry and hated, and everything I’ve feared, run from and done. As I look back and see who I’ve been, I ache to be someone new. I have a new prayer. Today, this is how I pray: “Jesus, let me love better today than I did yesterday. Let me let go of the things that stop me from loving well. Send Your angels to encourage me. Send Your Spirit to convict me. Send Yourself to change me. Remind me always that I am connected to others. Let me remember that I hold hands with them. Give me the ability to love them well. Give us the ability to love each other well."

Along with my new prayer comes surrender. I've arrived at surrender. With the decision to write my spiritual autobiography, Dancing in the Doghouse, I have learned that surrendering is my new job. The more I learn to give everything to God the more I experience freedom, health, joy and peace. That's why I'm surrendering Dancing in the Doghouse. I'm going to let other people read my story so that they might learn about surrendering too. I want others to know the new freedom I've found in giving my life, and my story, over to God.

It's scary to surrender my story. I'm really very small and limited. There's a lot of unflattering stuff written within the pages of Dancing in the Doghouse. My spiritual autobiography is a messy, gritty story of a sinner's spirituality. I've got nothing in my life to be really proud of. In fact, I have so much to be ashamed of in the absence of God's love and forgiveness. For as long as my story can be read by anyone who chooses to, I am continuing to rely on God to use it for His purposes. It is my hope that somehow my spiritual memoir will bring you hope and encouragement in spite of me. I am now surrendering my spiritual autobiography to you, because I trust that God is big enough to use it.

Angels Holding Hands
Connected
Age 38

Journaling

Your Journey: Getting Ready to Share Your Story

Look over your journal. Look for feelings, longings, or beliefs that resurface. Find themes or threads that weave their way through your entries. Write an entry that summarizes your journey using your past entries as a guide. The things that are central to your identity, spirituality, and personal integrity will make themselves known as you explore. Pray with your journal, asking God to reveal a plan and a direction for the expression of your personal journey. What may seem impossible, confusing, and disorganized becomes possible, clear, and organized when you invite God into the process. Expect Him to show you how to proceed. Rely on Him as you continue on your journey and as you search for a voice for your own spiritual autobiography. God be with you as you continue on your journey!

Spiritual Memoir and Grace: A Place for Grace in Your Story

Spiritual autobiography can help you understand the role of grace in your story. Your journal can be a place to explore what God has to say about forgiveness and grace.

Anger Painting

What God says about forgiveness is difficult for us to swallow: we are to turn the other cheek and let those who have hurt us off the hook. The act of forgiveness seems crazy because we operate in a world system that says you should get what you deserve. Forgiveness really makes no earthly sense at all.

Forgiveness is not a fantasy: it's a true story written just for us. All God asks is that we believe in the story. That means we won't always get what we deserve and that others might do the unthinkable to us. That means we have to choose to give our relationships to God and ask Him to help us respond lovingly to the unlovable. This is the only way that we can escape the reality of getting and giving what is deserved.

I understand that we're not always going to get what we deserve. Jesus got the opposite of what he deserved. We measured Him for much less than He was. It wasn’t humanly possible for Him to take loving us so far. He didn’t even keep His own body in the end. He had only a few people who were willing to see glimmers of who He really was. He enraged people. He was a problem to be solved. He was an irritation and an inconvenience. We have such a small taste of what He received and we still can't figure out how to love like we should.

How is it possible for us to love the unlovable? We need God to help us see more like Jesus sees. We need to learn how to love without putting conditions on people. We need to receive the love people are able to give to us even when it is on their terms and in their way. That’s how we will become our best. It’s also how we will help others become their best. We need love where we have hate. It’s why we need God.

I've decided only God can help us. We don't have a chance at loving without Him. We've got to surrender the ways we try to make our relationships work. What we do to make things work doesn't work anyway. We've got to trust God to take care of our relationships with the people we love and the people we don't love well at all. We've got to surrender everyone and everything to Him. This is how forgiveness can become a part of our story. It's how our story can be one that has a place for grace.

Sharing My Journey: Grace and My Spiritual Memoir

I love creating. I love painting my hopes and dreams. I love making something that’s beautiful to me. I love making something that shows who I am inside and what I feel. I love sharing what I create with people and watching how my creations bring them joy and encouragement. I love sharing my story with others. It’s like giving a little piece of me to someone wonderful. It’s one of my favorite ways to love the people who have loved me. It’s a way I can be an angel in return.

What about the people who aren't my lovable ones? What about the people who haven't loved me well? They're part of my story too whether I like it or not. I know that I'm supposed to love them anyway: the ones who have rejected me, laughed at me, betrayed me and wounded me. If angels are my symbol for those who have been a taste of God for me, what can I paint to represent those whom I am called to offer a taste of God? When I love the unlovable what is my symbol for grace? How can I make forgiveness fit on my canvas and into my story? 

Angel with Gold Wings
People I Can Count On
Age 37

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey: Grace and Your Spiritual Memoir

Make a list of the people you find hard to love. Consider the ways these relationships have helped, or hindered, your relationship with God. Get a red crayon and write the word "surrender" over the top of your list. Write a letter to God asking Him to help you love the people you can't love on your own. Find a quiet place and read your letter aloud to God. Trust that He will find a way to answer you.

Make a list of the ways you believe God has already guided you to surrender and forgive. Consider how these acts of forgiveness have a place in your spiritual autobiography. Let your spiritual autobiography become a true story of forgiveness that heals, changes hearts and brings you great peace. Expect grace for yourself as well as others.

A Second Chance: You Can Be New

Spiritual journaling can help your understand the role of second chances in your spiritual memoir. This page can help you keep a spiritual journal that will show how God can redeem our stories.

Spiritual Autobiography Angel

We really don’t have anything astounding to stand before God with at the end. We’re all painfully ordinary and painfully flawed. Yet, it’s never too late to get it right. When we see Jesus, some of us might say something like, “Why didn’t I see You all along? Only You are God!” People kinda like me might think, “I’ve lived a selfish life. Will You still have me?” Others might see the truth and respond, “I’ve done evil all my life. I’ve killed people. I’ve done horrible things. Please forgive me. Please take me with You.” Truthfully, all our lives are lived tragically. We never even begin to enter in to what we were really supposed to be. That’s why I like the idea that all our lives can be redeemed in our very last moments. That’s why I like the idea that our redemption can lie in the choice we make with our very last breath. That’s why Jesus is my king. He is the way we all still have a chance.

I boldly admit that I’m a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. I believe our salvation can only be found through Him. I don’t think I’m better because I believe these things. In our last moments all our hearts will betray us. Jesus’ eyes are piercing. They cut through all the bravado and the falsity. We all understand some truth but it’s in bits and pieces. Christians carry foolishness and lies. So do Non-Christians. We all have our idols that we worship. We all have our lies we believe. We all have ways we fail to love. We can’t hide the things that we store in our hearts from Him. He knows all.

God knows all about me. He knows how badly I need Him. I pray that He can help me, and I know that he will. It's a simple prayer: I ask for help and God gives it to me. It's not a complicated prayer, with incantations and rules to abide by. It's just a simple act of asking God to help me. God is listening and He knows all. It's that simple.

How do you feel about asking God to help you? How do you feel about asking God to make your story new?

Sharing My Journey: How My Story Can Be New

I make a new painting. I use torn papers, feathers, glitter and ink. I fill a huge canvas with a big angel with huge hands. I imagine that her hands take my prayers up to Heaven. All the people that I pray for have their names etched in her hands. My name is in her hands too. I need my name in her hands just as much as all the other names need to be there. I believe what the Bible says about salvation and getting to Heaven. I also know that I’m way too stupid, flawed and selfish to meet the requirements for perfection. I need a Savior just as much as the next guy.

If you know me then know it’s true. I pray for you. Your name is permanently etched in my angel’s hands. I believe that Jesus is the Savior of your world and mine. I believe He’s the real gig and I pray you will believe it too. Don’t be offended. If you don’t believe please don’t be offended. I don’t think I’m better than you. Spinning around in my head, and in my soul, is so much rancid garbage. My prayer is the best thing I have to offer you. It’s my simple prayer that we’ll all recognize Him when our day is done.

Next to Jesus on the cross was a man who was a horrible thief and murderer. He lived his life missing it. He didn’t get the gig. In his last moments he lived differently. He looked at Jesus and knew who He was. He also wanted Him. His heart desired Jesus. He knew Him and wanted Him, and that’s all that was required. His murderous acts were washed away. He went to Heaven that very day. I pray we will all die like the thief. I pray we’ll all die knowing and desiring Him regardless of what we've been, believed or done.

I have a prayer for a "new me." I believe in this prayer, and I believe God hears it and answers it. The reality that God hears our prayers and answers them is central to my story. Absent of this reality, my spiritual autobiography loses its center. Absent of God I have no story. Every day he makes my story new.

Angel Blowing Trumpet
Etched In Her Hands
Age 36

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey: How Your Story Can Be New

Deep inside, I believe that people truly want to discover God, and they know that they need Him. Rules, regulations and requirements steal the opportunity for many to meet this need. They don't see how God is a God of simplicity. That He simply wants us to realize that we need Him. That He simply wants us to ask Him for His help. That it's that simple to be in relationship with Him. Our stories can't exist in their fullness until we embrace a relationship with God, in all its simplicity, and allow ourselves to be drawn into that relationship. 

You simply pray to know God and He does the rest. He already knows who you are. Your name is permanently etched in His hands. How has the simple need to be safe in God's hands become a part of your story? How is your desire for others to be saved, right along with you, part of your prayers? Place your hands on a blank page in your journal. Trace their shape and fill them with the names of all the people you pray for. List all the things you (and others) need God to save you from inside these hands, too. Take some time to consider all the things your hands now hold. Consider their place in your story. Consider how your story would be made new if this were all true.

Spiritual Memoir and Forgiving Others: Forgiving Is Central to Your Story

You can learn about forgiving others through spiritual memoir or spiritual autobiography. This page can help you use a spiritual journal as a tool for forgiving others.

Antique Bed

I've considered the role of forgiveness in my spiritual journal. I've discovered that I want to apologize to the people I have not loved well. I have expected much and given little. Please forgive me. I was much afraid. I was trying to be perfect and I was demanding perfection in return. I’m not perfect. I’m really very messed up. I’ve tried to hide so much from you. It’s OK that you’ve hurt me. I’ve hurt you too. I’ll do my best to accept the pain you’ve given me. I want to love you anyway. I want to love you even if the best you can do is push me away. Please know that your heart, and your name, is safe with me. Even if we’re not friends I still love you. Even if you hate me, I’m still your friend.

God meant for me to love. He made me, and others, to love. We all mess that up pretty badly sometimes, but that doesn't change the truth of what we were made for. When people are really terrible I don't feel like loving them. I'm not even very sure of what loving them would look like. All I really know for sure is that I'm supposed to love.

Isn't it time for me to figure out how to love the sick and messed up people that surround me? People have had to figure out how to love me when I've been sick and messed up. A lot of the time our stories are pretty complicated: they make it hard to love and they make it hard for us to love others. Somehow in all of that we're supposed to figure out how to share love with others. What we have before us is a huge challenge. I'm almost forty. I think it's time for me to be up to the challenge. How about joining me in the challenge? I'd like some company.

Do you believe that God wants you to love others? How do you feel about loving everyone, regardless of what they've done? Are you up to the challenge of loving the unlovable? Consider that loving those who are hard to love is central to your story. 


Sharing My Journey: 
Forgiving Others and My Story

I have a dream. I’m an ordinary white horse but I become this beautiful, black creature. It has wings and it’s unique and wonderful. It’s like a beautiful stallion, but it’s so much more. It’s fantastic.

I add my black stallion to my canvas. Good apples pelt my black, winged creature. They’re red, delicious apples, not peace stealing crab apples. The red delicious apples bear the names of the fruits of the Spirit from the Book of Galatians. With each “hit” my stallion gets something and lets something go. Hatred is traded for love, fear is given away for peace, and sadness is swapped for joy. I give my black horse wings so it can soar.

I am becoming the beautiful black creature in my dreams. I had been the ordinary white horse until I chose to begin absorbing all the evil that was sent my way. That’s when I began transforming. I've started to understand who I really am. I'm learning to embrace each “hit” and understanding, more and more, that the chasm between me and my offender is small. For the first time I am giving a little of the love I wish to receive.

Recognizing the chasm between ourselves and our offenders can be our way of being the hands and feet of Christ. When we love those who have hurt us, or might hurt us, we are like Christ and His example of forgiveness. Demonstrating Christ's call to turn the other cheek is trading hatred for love, giving fear away for peace, swapping sadness for joy, and choosing to soar in the most unlikely places. Discovering how to love is not easy because we are called to love people who are hurting: people who are, or once were, just like us. Hurting people hurt others and it's a huge challenge to reach out to them and help them heal. With God's help our story can be about us transforming and giving away a little of the love we wish to receive. Our spiritual story can close the chasm and allow us to become the person God dreams we will be.

Black Angel Horse
Who I Really Am
Age 38

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey: Forgiving Others and Your Story

Write five sentences that describe you well. Use this paragraph to help yourself choose five adjectives that best describe you. List these adjectives in your journal. Do you like who you are? Do you believe you are created in God's image? Ask God for five adjectives that describe you. Does your list match His? Why? Why not?

Now think of someone extremely difficult to love. Choose five adjectives to describe that person and list them in your journal. Ask yourself, "Do you believe that this person is created in God's image?"

Consider some adjectives that describe you (and others) which are negative. Make a list of them in your journal. Do these adjectives describe who God made you and others to be? Are they adjectives that describe someone God made you, or another person, to become? Knowing that God is ready to forgive you can help you forgive yourself and others. Loving yourself and others allows your story to be about hope, transformation, and forgiveness. It allows your story to reach others with the message of unconditional love. It can become the heart of your spiritual autobiography.

Accepting Life's Disappointments: Accepting Is Part of Our Spiritual Story

You can overcome life's disappointments through spiritual autobiography. This page can help you use a spiritual journal to understand the role of disappointments in your spiritual story. Everyone can disappoint us. We don't like to think about the people who have fallen short, but our story is not complete if we only look at the champions in our lives. If this is our focus, we might find we have an awfully short story to tell.

Spiritual Memoir and Hope

I have tried to look at more than just the champions in my life. But, it's good to have a place for someone extraordinary in my story: someone who is usually not a disappointment. My dad has always played the truth and fairness game pretty well. He’s never been the type to get angry for no reason. He rarely tries to make me feel guilty. My dad doesn’t usually manipulate or lie. He’s a good man and a righteous one. This is a good part of the reason I’ve always felt safe with him. I don’t do well with “Job people.”  Truthful and fair people are what I prefer. I prefer people who see who I now am instead of what I once feared I was. I prefer people who pull me out of the darkness and into the light. I prefer people who don’t put me “in the doghouse” when it’s not fair. I prefer people who are truthful about their anger and their feelings. I hate the blame game.

I have to accept that no one is one hundred percent truthful and one hundred percent fair all of the time. Sooner or later, everyone messes up and is dishonest or unfair at some point. There's no place on earth to go where everything will consistently be as it should be. The blame game is a reality of life. Always knowing how, or when, to avoid getting hurt is impossible. It's out of our control. Eventually, even the people we love and trust the most will disappoint and hurt us.

The disappointments of life can leave us feeling powerless and defeated. It's especially disappointing when our story is filled with people who haven't loved us like we had hoped they would. Instead, even our "safest" people mess up pretty badly sometimes. The powerlessness we feel is real: we can't control what other people say, do and think. The only power we have is to change what we can, let go of what we cannot and seek the "wisdom to know the difference." If we fight the reality of our powerlessness we can wind up pretty depleted. The key to freedom from what we can't control is realizing that we can't control it. Once we determine the difference between what we can and can't control we have "wisdom" to share with others who are struggling. Now, we have a powerful story to share: our story of how we found power in powerlessness and then found freedom.

How have you been hurt and disappointed by the dishonesty and unfairness of others? Where do you go to be safe from life's pains and disappointments? Where do you go to escape what can't be changed? Consider how God has helped you come to terms with life's disappointments inside your journal.


Sharing My Journey: Life's Disappointments and My Story

I make an angel with wings of possibilities and answers. Her wings are made of what could have been. They are also made from what is. Some of the possibilities became answers, praise God, which are helping me. Today, they are more than answers. They are salvation.

My angel's dress is made from torn pages from the book of Job. Job had people who gave him lots of possibilities. They were determined to prove their possibilities. Nothing would make them waver. They had all the “proof” they needed. I have some “Job People” in my life. They still see what they have chosen to see despite my new answers. Nothing will change their minds. If I try to change their minds they fight back. They become irritated and angry. They want to see the old darkness instead of the new light. They see what I feared I was instead of who I now know I am.

I love the way a kaleidoscope gives you tiny parts that work together to make a beautiful whole. The parts in themselves aren’t much to look at. In fact, some of them are quite unattractive when they’re seen apart from the whole. I want to learn to look at people like I look through a kaleidoscope. I’d like to see myself this way too. I want to see the whole of who they are, and who I am, instead of picking at our little parts. I don’t want to be defined by labels. Calling someone a "Job Person" gives then a limiting label. I need to figure out how to see people in the same way that I’d like to be seen. I need to figure out how to redefine myself and others. I know that’s what God would prefer.

My Job people left me pretty disappointed at times. I had to learn how to find joy despite life'`s disappointments. For as long as I was chained to what my "Job People" thought, said and did I was not in control of my own life. Instead, my "Job People" reigned and ruled over my feelings, moods and actions. I wasn't even living my own life: someone else was always living it for me.

There were moments when I felt like the whole world was against me and that there was no hope. My mood only began to shift when I seriously considered God's truth about what was being done to, said, and believed about me. Once I realized that the truth of my "Job People" was not God's truth about me, I began to change. Seeing me through God's eyes, instead of through the eyes of others, shifted my attitudes, feelings, and actions. Hope entered into my story, and I began to have a story of hope to share.

Angel and Prescription Drugs
Wings of Possibilities
Age 38

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey: Life's Disappointments and Your Story

What we can and can't change is part of our story. Whether we choose to accept this doesn't change the reality that we are not in control. We can choose to accept our life challenges and do what we can to overcome them. We don't have to lose hope. Once we give God control over our story, being powerless can be a gift full of hope. Now, we don't have to face our challenges alone, and we have someone who we can trust to help us. Once God is part of our story, we have hope and encouragement for ourselves and others. He becomes the fuel for our spiritual autobiography. He becomes the reason others want to hear what we have to share.

Powerlessness and acceptance can be themes that weave through our spiritual memoirs. Our journal becomes a place where we can explore the tension between these two realities. It also becomes a place where we can see the plans and purposes God has for our stories. Our journal becomes a place where we can begin to share.

Divide a page in your journal into two columns. Title one column "Power to Change" and the other column "Need to Accept." Consider situations in your life that you'd love to breathe change into and write them down in the proper column. How can "changing" and "accepting" change you spiritually? Pray for the strength to make needed change and find peace in the face of disappointments. Seek God for the strength to accept what you can't change.


Surrendering the Gift of Spiritual Autobiography: 
Surrendering Your Story

You can learn about spiritual autobiography by keeping a spiritual journal. This page can help you understand spiritual writing and its place in your memoir. Journaling will help you look at many different aspects of your life. One theme that may surface is surrendering. Surrendering often has a place in our story.

Surrender ArtI have given some thought to the role of surrendering within my spiritual story. I really began to be free when I told Jesus that He could have it all. That’s the day I told Him I would keep on believing in Him even if life didn't go my way. I released to Him my whole life. I gave Him what I feared. I told Him that I would agree to go anywhere, and I would trust Him there. I let God have my worry and my worry about my worry. After that, I gave Him my desire for justice. I decided it was time to stop expecting fairness in exchange for love. I agreed to do my best to love people who wounded me and gave me their anger. I turned over my codependency: my need to control relationships, my manipulative ways to gain acceptance and my striving for power. I gave Him my bitterness with the hopes that I might resent less and give more. I handed Him my battle with the Guilt Voice. I gave Him my children, and that was really hard. I’ve always fought so hard to protect them. I gave Him my mom and dad. I gave Him my husband. I gave Him my finances. I released my family, my friends, my reputation, my hopes and my dreams.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no expert in surrender. I often try to take back what I’ve given away. God and I are doing a dance. It’s one step forward, two steps back. Three steps forward, ten steps back. Yours, mine, Yours, mine, Yours, mine! The good news is that despite the dance, I’ve managed to move forward. The good news is that most of us do. It’s the dance of life. We’re all in it.

What realities do you struggle to surrender? What would your life look like if you gave these realities to God to control? How would things change for you if you lived under His direction? Believe that your surrendered life has power. Believe that you can share it in your spiritual autobiography. Then, believe you can give the gift of your story away to others. You can change a life through your story. A story can be hope for your life and the lives of others.

Sharing My Journey: Giving the Gift of My Story

Surrender. I’m going to end with surrender. It’s the only ending that makes sense for me. It has been my key to health and freedom. It has been my key to life and love. It has become my key to live life with the ease and delight of being God’s child once again. It is my chance for tastes of life without fear. Surrender is giving Jesus my life. I tell Him that He can have it all.

Dear sweet Jesus,

I give it all to You, Lord, and I trust You with it all. I give You my guilt, my perfectionism, my mistakes and failings, my codependency, my anger, my rage, hatred and my desire to be as perfect as You. Take my ways of seeing the world: my righteousness, my self centeredness and the distance I try to put between myself and others. I give You my kids, my husband, my marriage, my family, my body, my sickness, my healing, my perceptions, my hopes and my dreams. I accept Your truth and Your answers. I take Your plans and Your power. I invite You to change all of me. I surrender. You can have it all.

Take my life,

Alisa

It’s the ultimate irony; in order to truly enjoy life we have to surrender it. We have to see it’s not ours for the keeping. We understand that nothing is ours to keep, anyway, unless we want to die a slave. I’d rather submit it all and live. That’s what I’m going to try to do for the rest of my journey. In fact, I’ve decided what will fill my next canvas. It’s going to hold all the stuff I’m going to surrender. It’s going to be filled with all the things I’m going to give away. My new canvas is going to resonate with life.

Surrender, for me, meant letting Jesus direct my story. When I wrote my spiritual autobiography, Dancing in the Doghouse, I had to let God be in control of some stuff. It was stuff that I didn't want to let go of. I knew though, deep down inside, that my spiritual story wouldn't really encourage people if it wasn't honest, open and a good bit risky. This meant opening me up to the scrutiny of others and trusting God with the outcome. As I began sharing my spiritual memoir, I was terrified: terrified of the scrutiny, terrified of the powerlessness and terrified to let Jesus direct me. I had to surrender it all and trust that God had his reasons for doing things as He saw fit. Dancing in the Doghouse was my way of giving it all over to God and believing that He would take good care of the gift of my story.

Spiritual Autobiography Gift
Have It All
Age 39

Journaling

Sharing Your Journey: Giving the Gift of Your Story

If you want to find a voice for your spiritual memoir you can get help by simply praying for God's direction. Some people don't like this idea, because they might not get the direction they were hoping for. Instead, they might be challenged to do something with their spiritual story that's outside of their comfort zone. Truly praying for God's direction requires us to embrace surrendering. Sharing our story with others is a gift that's not always easy to share. We need God's help to give it away.

Think about the role of surrender as you look back on your journey. How is it part of your spirituality? How is surrender necessary as you seek to express your personal journey? What do you need from God to give voice to your own spiritual autobiography? Ask God to lead you to the answers to these questions. Let Him direct your journey.

Trace your hands on a page in your journal. Imagine that the hands you have drawn are God's hands. What areas in your life are you struggling to control rather than surrendering them to Him? Reflect on the ways you have given God control along your journey. Reflect on ways that you have tried to take charge of things that are beyond your control. Write down all the things you would like to surrender inside the hands you have drawn. Write a prayer within your journal. Tell God about all the things in your life that you'd like Him to take over. Pray for His help and direction. Trust that He will help you surrender and hear His voice for your spiritual autobiography. Put your hope in Him.


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Good Work!


Pink Lamp and Poppies,
Age 47


People might not notice my work until I'm dead. That's how it often goes. I just made one of my best paintings ever. It has sat on the windowsill, next to the dinner table, for 3 weeks now. No one has even commented. They love me and they respect me too. There's just a piece of me (an important piece) that's lost on them. It's probably a gift (their indifference) because I have to validate myself instead of getting the validation from outside me. I've gotten to the point when I know when my work is good: even if everyone around me is oblivious.


Whimsical Work! 
         

Angel from Heaven

Angel From Heaven,
Age 37

Sometimes the angels I create are almost as beautiful as I see them in my mind. This one satisfies me. She's kinda whimsical, fun, full of color and life. She makes me feel hope deep inside.

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Changing Work!


I Can Break Through, Age 42

The threads don’t have to bind us. We can break through them, but we need a little help. We need someone who can help us stand up and break free. Who can help us remember who we are so that the smallness doesn’t overtake us? I don’t know about you, but I need God to remind me that a spool of thread can’t hold me. I need His logical, anti-ridiculous, thread breaking power. My God is bigger than a spool of thread and His very Spirit dwells within my soul. That means that I have what it takes. I can break through them: the things that keep me unnecessarily bound.




Let God Clean It Out, Age 42

Everything we’ve needed for greater fulfillment, peace and joy is just beyond our reach, though. Unlike a window which we can simply use our hands to lift open, our brains don’t allow such easy access. God is the only one who can reach inside our very selves and clean house. If we invite Him, He will come and open us up, clean us out and get us going in the right direction. We can’t do it alone but we can ask Him to help us. God will clean it out. He’ll change us from the inside out.


"I Can" Work!


Orange Skittle Collage,
Age 46

I grab a button and I stick it on. I paint it bright orange. It looks like a Skittle. I leave it there. Humorous. And, I can. So I do.


Journey Work! 

People on the Journey


Woman on Spiritual JourneyOn the Journey,
Age 41

I'm already on the journey. Sometimes I forget that. In fact, I often forget that. I need to remember not to strive for something that tomorrow might bring. Instead, I need to live in the moment and remember that today is part of the journey. Today, and what I do today, matters as much as the "bigger challenges" tomorrow might bring. Today I can choose to engage in what today brings and remember that what I do right now has an impact. I also need to remember that I'll make mistakes today; I won't do today perfectly. But, that's OK because I am already on the journey towards where God wants me to be. Today I can choose to trust God and everything he does with me, through me and in me.


Amazing Work!

Woman with Purple HatBest Left Alone
Age 25

My paints make me feel happy. It feels good to tell my story, even if it's the story of a woman who's alone. I'm grateful that I have a way of capturing what matters in my life. I love the fact that others can look at what I've made and see what matters to me. It's awesome when people see what I've made and it makes them start telling stories about their own lives. When they talk, sometimes they smile, or their eyes well up with tears. My life touched theirs. Their life touched mine. It's amazing.


Happy Work!


Yarn Swirl and Skittle Collage,
Age 46

More and more the pleasure comes from doing what I want and not caring what anyone else thinks. It's funny how many times people have tried to redirect me when they see my art. Mostly, they try to get me to go back to the style of art I was asked to produce in my first years of college: representational art from the times I was being taught how to draw and paint. Why should I go back to that now? I could prove to the world that I can do it. I can do it: make art that looks real. But, that wouldn't make me happy. A swirl of yarn and a button made to look like a Skittle is what makes my art today. Maybe that doesn't make you happy but I am. I am happy.


Choose Work!


Forgiveness Art


Spiritual Painting
I Get to Choose,
Age 41

Today I get to choose. I can open a door and I can shut it. Some doors will open me up to new and exciting things and I can stay in that new and exciting place. Some doors will lead to dead ends or difficult situations, and I can turn around and leave: shutting the door behind me. I don't have to stay if I don't want to, and I don't have to leave if I choose. I get to choose.


Easy Work!

Easy Button Prayer
Easy Button,
Age 44

I recently attended this women’s retreat. The presenter said that receiving what you want from God is easy: like pressing that Easy Button you see in those Staples Ads. Some days we could all use an Easy Button, and sometimes God is happy to provide us with one. I guess the important thing to remember is that when we pray, God draws close like a loyal friend. Maybe miracles don’t come easy, but God drawing close when we need him is the part we can always count on. 

Rebuilding Work!          

Hope for Spiritual Story
Sanctuary,
Age 36 

I make a collage. Blood red is the prominent color. A cross divides the rectangular space into four sections. In the center of the cross is a God’s Eye. I surround it with nails to symbolize the crucifixion. The nails remind me that Jesus forgives us no matter what He sees us do.

I remember the God’s Eye. I remember it from my childhood. Ya Ya said, “God knows all.” The God’s Eye scared me when I was a child. It looked like a real eye. It made me afraid of what God’s eyes might see in me. I figured He’d judge me and punish me. I figured I deserved it if He did. Yet, I wasn’t quite sure what I had done wrong.  I’m still confused by the cultic symbolisms and meanings of the All-knowing God’s Eye. But, I’m sold on God and I believe God does know all. He knows what we all did and what we are doing.  He knows about all the ways we’ve been weak and how we’ve messed up. Our selfishness, pride and fear is no surprise to Him. Our lives are fueled by His grace. When I look at the ways He has restored me, and others, I can’t help but know His grace. Rebuilding and restoring is His business as far as my eyes can see.


Guardian Angels!


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Liminal Work!




Space Travel, 2019


Mindful Work!







Junk Work!





Old Junk
Age 42

I’m gonna pull that Old Junk out of my head. I’m not going to give it a chance to play its old song of doubt, fear and sadness. Instead, I’m going to believe something new, write a new song and let that new tape play. Old tape out, new tape in!