Themes

Themes in Your Spiritual Autobiography

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” ― Norton Juster

Look for Themes Within Your Story

Creative expression has power—power to help us find hope as we wait in life’s most challenging places and spaces. It can give us peace and hope no matter how hard our present place in time and space may seem. By sharing the challenges of your own journey, you can encourage others. Everyone’s story is different and has the unique ability to be a source hope for others. This site is all about releasing that hope. At Journey on Canvas, you will find suggestions to join me on a hope sharing journey. I will share through words and images. I will share things I have painted, written, tried, or considered. Regardless of how I share my story, you will find hope to help you on your journey. Join me in finding ways to share and release the power of your story though creative process, experiencing the spiritual benefits of artistic exploration, and finding hope through sharing what unfolds.

Sharing My Journey

I 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.

Find Themes that Changed Your Course

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.

Sharing Your Journey

Your journal can become a place for exploring challenging themes. What difficult realities have you had to face throughout your journey? 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 life? How do your discoveries fit within 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 your “fear themes” helps tell your whole story. Consider stories about facing fear: yours and those of others. Don’t fear including fear in your story.

Hopeful Work

Textured Work

Tomorrow’s Door,
2020

Things Otherwise Unseen,
2020

Stay and Go,
2020

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.