The words of the above Offertory from years past are so deeply imprinted on my heart that I sometimes miss them like an absent friend.  I frequently find myself singing the words when I'm in my studio, out walking, or doing household tasks.
 
A friend, who has long struggled with depression, embraced the discipline over the past year of making daily Facebook posts about what prompts his thankfulness. Having some small sense of what it requires to muster up gratitude when residing in a dark place, his posts nearly always tug at my heart.  They also nudge me to be more intentional about expressing gratitude for the thanks-worthy people and experiences in my life.  
 
On this day, my "sacrifice of thanksgiving" includes gratitude to God for the "great cloud of witnesses" who enrich my life and ministry, and I am especially grateful to be able to count you among them!
 
 
GRATITUDE IN THE STUDIO
 
A little over a year ago, I made the difficult decision to discontinue my liturgical commission practice. I continue to be humbled by the inquiries and requests I receive, and I'm still challenged to respond to them with a firm "no."
 
Fortunately, the challenge of saying "no" to commissions is balanced by the opportunity to say "yes" to a more spontaneous and adventurous mode of creating. Some of the things I've felt prompted to explore will likely never be seen outside the studio [smile], but others ... well, let me just say that I've been having fun!
 
When Phil and I relocated to a new home 2.5 years ago, I (re) discovered a box of old blue jeans, as well as a lot of odds and ends I had assembled over the years (feathers, wishbones, my maternal grandmother's crochet threads, bits of raffia and dried grasses, etc.).  I ended up combining some of them into a series of small, hand-stitched, free-form compositions. I didn't start out with a clear sense of direction so, while I was pleased with these little gems, I struggled to discern what to "do" with them. When I realized that they have a "journal" quality to them, I decided to incorporate them into a handmade book titled Belonging. Click here for a page-through. 
 
From a young age, I have appreciated the beauty of hand-woven textiles and have intermittently longed to explore this form of artistic expression.  Acknowledging that it would be impractical for me at this stage of life to shift energies to looms and warps and wefts (oh, my!), I started brainstorming alternative ways to attend to this longing. One attempt involved hand-stitching floss threads into a length of burlap; although that fell into the category of not-to-be-seen-outside-the-studio, it nonetheless prompted me to explore additional possibilities. One that has been more satisfying involves stitching yarn, raffia, threads, fabric strips, etc., through soil-erosion cloth, a jute fabric that is more loosely woven than burlap and has a softer hand and a more regular weave. I've used the resultant "weavings" to create several kimono-shaped pieces whose elegant translucency belies these humble materials.
 
After spending more hours than I'm willing to acknowledge searching for a loosely woven black material with which to create additional "weavings," I've identified two options for my next explorations. One, a regular-weave black burlap, will require me to spend several evenings (likely with one eye on Acorn or BritBox) pulling every other thread to create a looser weave through which to stitch. The other, a black nylon butterfly net, has openings larger than I would have preferred, which will require me to identify more substantial materials with which to stitch through the netting. How I love visioning the possibilities!
 
And then there are the felted "distress blankets" (used in prisons and detention centers), found at a Goodwill in northern Indiana.  I don't yet know what they long to become, but I'm grateful for the freedom to imagine, envision, and explore.  
 
 
GRATITUDE BEYOND THE STUDIO
 
In the midst of life's various changes and challenges, I'm grateful that I was able to realize my dream of making my liturgical designs more broadly accessible in the form of
three print-on-demand-fabric banner collections that I introduced earlier this year.  To those who accompanied me on the journey to this new approach, I thank you!  To those who have taken steps to welcome the banner collections into your congregations' worship spaces, I thank you! To those who are still discerning how one of the collections might enrich your congregations' worship, I offer this expression of anticipatory thanks. 
     
 
I'm grateful for having had opportunities to make contributions to the ELCA Worship Blog and for having them be so warmly received. I've previously created collections of FREE VISUAL RESOURCES for use during Advent 2018, Lent 2019, and Pentecost 2019, and I'm finalizing resources for Lent 2020 (see accompanying Tree of Life image).  Each collection includes reproduction-ready designs that can be used for banners, projection graphics, bulletins, print and electronic promotions, etc. I'm now exploring how I might make these and future resources even more broadly available through my website. When I get this figured out, I'll be enlisting your help to get the word out about these (pretty cool) resources.
 
The retirement of our congregation's pastor in June 2018 was followed by a 15-month vacancy, during which time I was more heavily involved than usual in the congregation's worship life. Worship is one of my enduring passions, and I was pleased to be able to assist in this way, but the demands were sometimes overwhelming.  I'm grateful that our new pastor has arrived, has been installed in fine style, and is ready and able to assume primary leadership.  
 
 
 
 
EXHIBITION NEWS
 
Please check hours before planning a visit.
 
MAKING GOOD[S]
Now through October 19, 2019
New Vision Church
N14W27995 Silvernail Road
Pewaukee, WI 53072 
262-548-3744
 
NO LIBRARY CARD NEEDED
(Contemporary Book Art)
Now through December 13, 2019
New Mexico State Capitol Rotunda Gallery
Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
505-986-4614
 
WITH ANGELS AND ARCHANGELS
Now through January 31, 2020
The Wayne and Barbara Kroemer Library
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
260-452-2224
 
 

Gratefully yours,