Monday, April 25, 2016

Who Am I?

I'm a nosy rosy.  I love to know people, to understand their stories and why they are who they are.  I want to what they've struggled with and how it changed them.  I want to know what they dream of and what scares them.

So...I'll go first.

My job that pays the bills is middle school social studies teacher.  I've taught high school and have tried two different "out of the classroom" jobs but settled in where I'm at because my hometown school has a daycare on campus and I had babies.  Two of them.  At the same time.  And I wanted to be close to them when I went back to work.

My husband is a high school band director and, personality-wise, the complete opposite of me.  He'd never willingly put personal details out there for any-old-one to see and probably doesn't like that I do.  Sorry, honey.

Like most moms, a good bit of my "story" centers on my children.  Specifically, my adult, married life has been dominated by infertility and the aftermath of the preemie experience.  I have PCOS and it took three rounds of IVF to get, and stay, pregnant.  Thirty thousand dollars and three years of trying to make my body cooperate left me battered and bruised, physically, mentally and spiritually.  I wish I could say it made me rely on God more.  But that's not my story.

The absolute joy of finding out our last attempt at fertility treatments had resulted in a twin pregnancy was soon overshadowed by fear, doubt and ultimately hospital bedrest.  Logan and Leigh Allyn were born twelve weeks early in spite of my best efforts to lay perfectly still in that hospital bed.  The body that had failed me when I wanted to get pregnant also failed to carry them safely to term.

Ten weeks of living alone in someone else's apartment in Nashville, an hour and a half away from home, while the babies were in the NICU was the loneliest time of my life.  I saw my husband once, maybe twice, a week and spent my days sitting in the hospital, waiting for them to grow.  Again, I wish I could say I relied on God and prayed continuously.  I did not.  Instead, I floated along, buoyed by the prayers of others.  I felt them.  I knew God was there.  And yet I kept the wall up.

In spite of the fact that L&LA are healthy, happy, developmentally normal three year olds, the NICU experience lingers just under the surface and busts out, usually in the form of tears, at the most inconvenient times.  PTSD isn't something that just affects soldiers.  It's real and I work constantly to keep it from stealing the joy out of motherhood.

Draw Near is the anecdote to to the things that I allow to create distance between me and Christ.  It's the balm that heals my soul and helps me find ways God can use the struggles of my motherhood story to reach out to others.  It's the way I have found my way back to active church membership.  It's the way I connect with the Word.  It has been my revival.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Talking to Adults

I want to take a moment to talk about a special first in my bible journaling life, my first class for adults.  I've done hand lettering classes with middle schoolers but never a bible journaling class with adults.  There were some other firsts wrapped up in the session.  It was the first time I've ever prayed in front of someone and the first time I've shard my testimony about being an infertility veteran and NICU mom.
Diet Mountain Dew and Art Supplies
"Workshop in a Box"

I had several great conversations about bible journaling, specifically about the possibilities of doing future sessions with other churches and other groups.  I can feel God working through this particular type of study and am grateful to be useful in sharing his love and building the kingdom.

A Sketchnoting Challenge

Florals are such a common theme in journaling.  I'm
hesitant to even join the arena.

I love the smudgy, rich colors of gelatos.

My current favorite.
Micron and Chalk

I'm glad these pictures don't show how many times
I practiced before actually drawing in my Bible.
I've been busy working in my bible.  I have gotten that routine figured out and hopefully will figure out a way to incorporate regular posting here as a part of that routine.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why "Draw Near"?

I had a rough few years.




Parenting twinfants.

Changing jobs.

I wish I could say those experiences made me rely on my faith and deepened my walk with Christ.  Unfortunately, that's not my story.  Those experiences were a time of loneliness and isolation.  I felt far away from God, my friends and my family.  People would say things like "God will give you a baby when he wants you to have one," "this is all a part of God's plan," and other things that were meant to comfort me but only served to make me feel more alone.

Fast-forwarding to last summer, I was ending my second year at a new job (teaching middle school, yay!), working on my physical self and feeling convicted that I needed to work on my spiritual self.  A life-long lover of ink pens and pretty paper, I was drawn to images I saw on Pinterest of quotes and verses and started trying them out in a sketchbook I bought on a whim.

an early recreation of a Pinterest post
and verse that is near to anyone
who has had a baby after IF.
I saw my first pictures of Bible journaling and was instantly drawn to the idea of using something I'm proud of and confident in, my handwriting, to strengthen something I wasn't so confident in, my faith.  I wanted to instantly run out and buy all the fancy new supplies I saw being used on Pinterest but
wanted to be careful that I was more excited about spending time reading and studying than about ink pens and handwriting.  I began to read and emulate entries I saw on Pinterest in an old Bible that was sitting forgotten on a shelf.

As I focused on spending time with Christ, other things in my life starting changing as well.  I found and joined a new church, joined a small group and starting inviting people to go to church with me.  Less than a year later, I have made countless connections with people because of my hand lettering and have a full row with me at church most Sundays.  I have hosted hand lettering classes with teenagers and am getting ready for my first Bible journaling workship at a local church's women's retreat this month.

God is Good and I have literally drawn nearer because of the simple act of putting pen to paper.


This isn't the first blog I've started.  I've reviewed books, talked about infertility, joked about raising twins and mused about the purose of life.  There's nothing in my track record that suggests this blog will be anything other than something I do for me.  And I'm okay with that.

My dream for Draw Near Lettering is that it will become a place where people come to see what my pen and paper testimony can do for them.  A place where people who love pretty paper and ink pens as much as I do can see my own amateur attempts to draw near to Christ through bible journaling, hand lettering and other doodling.  My personal dream is to host hand lettering and bible journaling classes for people in real life.
Micron with Stickers
Micron and Prismacolor colored pencils, doodle inspired by washi tape

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you get ideas for your own work, see scripture that makes you think or otherwise Draw Near to Christ.