Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Whole: Healing a Broken Heart


by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal.

Living with a broken heart is something that many, many people do for one reason or another. Sometimes broken hearts heal, other times we just make do and keep going.  No matter what caused our broken heart, a trauma, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one or any number of other causes, the first step to healing the heart is acknowledging the wound.

This art project helps those of us with a broken heart visualize the pain and hurt we feel that no one else can see. When we use paint and collage materials to illustrate the damage and repair our hearts need, we can share and show our feelings in a concrete way.

What you need:

Watercolor paper
Watercolor paints
Brushes
Superglue
Black permanent markers
 Miscellaneous closure items like zippers, buttons, band aides, snaps, safety pins, staples etc.


1.     Use the watercolor paints and paper to paint a representation of your heart on the page. Fill in the heart with color and paint in the background.
2.     Once the paper is dry, use the glue to apply some of the closure collage materials to indicate the areas where your heart has been broken and is being mended and repaired.
3.     Use the black marker to add text if some words come to mind that you’d like to include to help to illustrate your feelings.

Reflect on the repairs you have made on your broken heart. Look at the colors you choose. What is the overall feeling of the picture? Is it dark; are there a lot of closure devices holding your heart together? Then you are at the beginning of healing your heart.
Do this exercise again in a few months. Compare the two hearts. Do you see improvement? Do you see the colors getting lighter or more vibrant? Do you see less mends or closures? Is your heart healing? If not, what can you do to work on healing?
Continue to do this exercise every three or four months to check your own progress.  Be kind to yourself and love yourself to heal your heart.


Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups


Image adapted from : License

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Treasuring Grace Book Club: Discussion Questions Ch, 25-26 The Final Chapters

We have come to the final chapters of Treasuring Grace. We hope you have enjoyed the journey and have come to love this family and their struggles as much as we do. We would love to hear your thoughts on the book and this virtual book club. For now, here are the last discussion questions and author insights. Thanks for being part of this process.

In Chapter 25, how do you think the confession went for Liz ?

First, I think it’s important to know that the confession scene is an accurate depiction of what a woman in Liz ’s position could experience.  The scene is consistent with Church teaching.  The theme would be forgiveness, not punishment or harsh judgment.  “Giddy”, I think, would be the word to describe the feeling she would have after having that enormous burden suddenly removed.
 
Chapter 26 is the end of the story.  How do you think the Swansons will do?

Jake’s world got rocked a little bit, but he’s stronger and wiser for it.  Alyssa is still cheerful and mischievous, but also a little wiser.  Grocery shopping has been the benchmark in Liz and Scott’s relationship, and they’re back to doing it together.  The void in their marriage has been removed, and they’re communicating and sharing ideas.   Liz is coming to terms with the abortion and finding peace by writing to Grace in her journals.  They’ll do well. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

God Speaks: Real Stories of God's Guiding Hand through Dreams or in Life

The book "Treasuring Grace" was inspired by a dream in which co -author Tracy Roberts feels that God spoke to her and directed her hand in the writing of the story. Many people feel God's special influence in their lives in direct or indirect ways.  This column seeks to bring you some of their inspirational stories.

The below story is that of John Gage, who is the talented & humble author of "Moved."

"God Literally Spoke to Me"


One is not required to believe, but I believe this story to be true.

Having been recently remarried and on a remote tour for a year away from my family, I was stationed in Korea, the Land of the Morning Calm. It was here that God humbled me a peg or two by showing me I was an alcoholic for over 16 years. That's right, I am John and I am an alcoholic. (Hi, John!) I am grateful for this knowledge because it led me to the root evil of all my unhappiness, all my confusion, my anger, and all my "emotional baggage".

I had been sober for about 4 months and had begun my "4th step" which is where one is to identify the wreckage in our lives and seek its' basic root evil. I quickly realized that I had a lot of anger, resentment and "stuff" to deal with. There was a lot of "emotional wreckage" tormenting me. I didn't do emotions in a healthy way, and had no idea of how to handle them. Overwhelmed and trying to get a foothold in this avalanche of realizations of sin in my life and how evil I was within, I was desperate for God's wisdom. On my knees, I cried...and I cried out to God. I literally begged Him - God to speak to me. "God, what is my number one problem?". I wanted to know so badly. I listened... and nothing. I still believed God would show me eventually, but I really wanted Him to speak to me. I laid down assuming I couldn't handle His truth or that God wasn't going to speak to me. I grew tired and was worn out, emotionally.
Tear soaked eyes and partially conscious, mostly asleep, my request was answered by Him. In His majestic and stately voice, God spoke to me. My first reaction was trembling for I knew I was in the presence of something Great... God... His voice; His Majesty; His Righteousness!! Awesome, simply Awesome!!! Hearing His voice made things explode in my mind. I reacted in a sort of gleeful panic, scared, excited, sorrowed, and overjoyed all at the same time. And I cried REALLY, REALLY hard because I was so honored to hear His voice, and at the same time, frightened because God revealed to me in a single word, the very nature of my misery.
God said the word, "John."
"John?" I thought and a little scared.
"John?" I thought and a confused momentarily.
"John!" I thought in a shocked state. "God means me? Am I my own worst enemy?"
"John...It's me?.... It's me..... It's me!" I thought. "Wow!" God told me and I understood right away the magnitude of His message. In a word, he told me that I am my own worst enemy.
Overjoyed and scared.... I had to call the one and only person I knew would believe me and understand me, and she did, of course. I am grateful that my best friend is and always will be my beautiful wife.
God revealed to me something that I really needed to know, and I want to share. I learned that yes, indeed, I am my own worst enemy. Now, I have a definition of pride which I feel is useful: "My thinking I am in charge."
This caused me to take a key step in my faith as a Christian. I made a complete surrender to Jesus. I got to take a good look at what God meant about my evil (John) in all aspects of my life. I saw my true nature and I am so much more grateful for God's gift of Eternal Salvation. I also realized I couldn't earn my way to heaven, nor intellectualize my way to heaven. I realized that God held me in the same regard as the rich man and the poor man, and that my sinful nature was no better and no worse than any man's. I could no longer judge others. A life of daily obedience to God has freed me from the bondage of alcoholism, and more importantly, myself.

To learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous, visit http://www.aa.org
John Gage is the talented & humble author of "Moved" http://www.2theheart.com/inspirational_stories/ is a devout Christian and family man; he teaches Sunday school and leads two fellowships in his home in Utah. He also performs duties as a Major in the United States Air Force. Email John and let him know how his story affected you!  John.Gage@HILL.af.mil


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AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Taston

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Treasuring Grace: Book Club Discussion Questions Ch. 23 and 24

Hi friends, we are coming close to the end of our Treasuring Grace bookclub and we hope you have enjoyed it. When we are done we'd love to hear what you have thought of the experience. 
Here are this weeks book club questions for chapters 23 and 24.


Jennifer is featured prominently in Chapters 23 and 24.  What do you think about her response to Liz ’s despair?

We don’t really know a lot about Jennifer, but we can imagine and extrapolate from what we do know.  Despite the porta-potties when we first met her, image was very important to her.  The parade was also very important to her, so she didn’t leave it lightly.  This was almost heroic, and her subsequent rescue of Liz was crucial – you can imagine the Swansons sitting there for a long time without her help.  Sharing her own story was generous and pivotal in helping Liz .  Acknowledging the wrong and asking for forgiveness was a necessary approach.  Liz wouldn’t have responded to anything else, especially not an attempt to minimize it.
 
Do you think the relationship between Jennifer and Scott will change?  

I think Jennifer and Scott will think a little differently of each other, but they enjoy antagonizing each other too much to let it go.
 
Has Jennifer gotten over her own abortion?  

Probably not.  By her own admission, her personality changed.  She became an “Ice Queen”.  There was a stronger term before editing.  That’s why Scott’s kind words got to her.  It was almost easier for her to believe that she was just a hard, cold person than that she was a good person who made a mistake.

Read Chapters 25 and 26

Friday, August 17, 2012

Making Whole: Illustrate a Quote


by Diane Steinbach
The written word, whether it is a particularly significant song lyric, bible verse or famous quote, can sometimes resonate so deeply with something within us that we grasp onto it like a life raft in times of trouble or sorrow.

Write down whatever quote or verse that reflects your current mood.  Illustrate it through the abstract use of color and lines, or a more representative image. Think about the words while you work, and how the words relate to you and your own feelings and situation.  Take your time and develop the image fully.

When you are done take a deep breath and release all the emotion you have tied to the words, be them sadness, loneliness, regret or anxiety. Release those emotions and deposit them into the drawing. Walk away feeling lighter and more at ease.


Diane Steinbach is the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups


Image:
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AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by mellowsundrops

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Treasuring Grace Book Club Discussion Questions Ch 20 -22

We are nearing the end of our Treasuring Grace Book Club adventure and we hope you have been having fun and enjoying the author insights and discussion questions.  Here are the questions to delve into for chapters 20-22.

Consider the path of Liz ’s emotional state through Chapters 20, 21, and 22.  How do you think it relates to her belief in Grace?

In Chapter 20, the Swansons enjoy an idyllic evening on the lake.  Jake and Scott enjoy a heated game of catch, jabbing at each other.  Alyssa is annoyed by it, by Liz is wiser and tolerant even though their bantering and competing must get tiresome.  Just like their day on the lake, Liz is the glue that holds it together.  She makes the dinner.  She gathers the ingredients for the s’mores.  She keeps the peace.  She’s happy and content, and she believes that Grace is safe, snug, and fast asleep in her bed.

A transition occurs in Chapter 21.  Liz gets a warning from her grandfather but attempts to ignore it.  Liz is anxious to get to the parade, and puts on quite a show with her singing and stomping around to be sure that everyone is awake.  She’s still in good spirits, but it may almost seem forced with her joke about clowns and then snapping at Alyssa.  Grace is gone by the end of the chapter, but Liz doesn’t understand yet.

Liz fully understands the truth about Grace in Chapter 22, and she falls into complete despair.
 
In Chapter 22, the Swansons finally understand what Liz has gone through.  What do you think of their reactions?

Well, the reactions of Scott and Alyssa may be a little idealized.  A husband immediately acknowledging the significance and accepting blame for something that happened 8 years prior might not be typical.  But he loves her, largely understands her, and saw her weekend’s joy turn to heartbreak overnight.  

Alyssa had spent hours analyzing her mother’s tormented journal entries.  She would have to be pretty cold hearted not to immediately express sympathy and assurance.  

Jake was the holdout.  This was his first stumble, but we felt it was important to the story to acknowledge that the path to self-forgiveness might not be entirely smooth.
  
Read Ch. 23 and 24

Thursday, August 9, 2012

God Speaks: True Stories of God's Interactions with Everyday People

 The book "Treasuring Grace" was inspired by a dream in which co -author Tracy Roberts feels that God spoke to her and directed her hand in the writing of the story. Many people feel God's special influence in their lives in direct or indirect ways.  This recurring column seeks to bring you some of their inspirational stories.

"Kim's Story"

"I was at the end of my rope. I was at the brink of making some very big decisions in my life and I felt as though the two people I counted on the most had let me down. My two best friends, the two people I counted on to love me and support me unconditionally, finally, in my darkest hour, exposed themselves as being...well, human after all. They looked at my situation, this big life changing decision I was on the brink of making, and put themselves into my place and judged me.  They put their own emotions and thoughts ahead of my feelings and needs, and although I had begged for understanding, support, and had wailed in grief, expressing my pain and distress, they both had let me down.
I remember hanging up the phone, from my conversation with a friend I thought I could turn too, and realizing I was alone. Alone in this world with this huge decision. I had no one to talk to, no one to work out the problem with until I could come to an answer. No one could listen to me without judging me or being hurt themselves I guess.
I got up, after crying out the depths of my pain. I felt empty and alone. Desperate. Dejected, I walked into the bathroom to shower and rinse away my pain. 
I stood in the shower, crying more.. sobs heaving through my body. I thought to myself.... and to God... "I surrender."
I do believe in God... although we have had our moments and disagreements in the past, but I wouldn't call myself a "religious" person per se.   I was at that moment however talking to Him.

"I surrender."  I said.  "Just tell me what you want me to do."
I heard His words in my head.  He said, "Just Live." 
I was suicidal.  I have been before.  And I took a deep breath, and I agreed, I would do so.

Then I heard. "You are a healer. You are meant to Heal, Kim, You don't get to have the things, the people, not even the life you want... You are meant to step in and heal others lives, and then step away..."

I knew the sad truth of that.  I knew it to be true and just. A Just sentence for my life and my mistakes and a gift as well, the joy of healing and helping others...although I would suffer, and have, greatly by having to love and give up over and over again.  It seemed just.  I would have to accept it.  

I knew it was God.

I still pray sometimes, asking for a way to have some Peace, some love for myself, ... the answers I receive seem to remind me of my penance... heal and move on." 

image: Flickr: 
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Treasuring Grace Book Club Discussion Questions: Ch. 17 -19

Hey book club members! We hope you are enjoying your summer with Treasuring Grace. 


In Chapters 17 through 19, do you notice anything different happening with Grace?

 
In Chapter 18, Liz ’s grandfather says “And you can’t reach her from here.”  What are two possible explanations for that?

SPOILER ALERT:

 In Chapters 17 through 19, do you notice anything different happening with Grace?

 Prior to this, Liz ’s belief in Grace has been mostly unobtrusive, with a lot of whispered conversations.  There have been instances where Liz ’s word choice might have confused others, but it was always easy to find an explanation that didn’t include Grace – which would have been the perception of a character grounded in reality.  However, there are events in these chapters where Liz ’s behavior would seem increasingly odd to someone who was observing her or listening closely: laughing, jumping in the lake, playing games by herself, etc.  She’s getting closer to a breakdown.

In Chapter 18, Liz ’s grandfather says “And you can’t reach her from here.”  What are two possible explanations for that?

Liz is supposed to understand that Grace is dead and with her grandfather in heaven.  That’s why she can’t reach her.  However, the interpretation that Liz chooses and the one more obvious to a reader would be that Liz needs to get her butt moving so that she can reach Grace in the water.


Read Chapters 20- 22

Friday, August 3, 2012

Making Whole: Yin Yang of You



The Yin and Yang symbol is an ancient Chinese symbol that says so much with its simplicity. It represents balance, not opposition, a philosophy that dark cannot exist without the light, that beauty cannot exist without things that repulse, that day cannot exist without night.

Embracing that philosophy means accepting ourselves for all that we are. That without having made mistakes, perhaps we would not be the loving, caring people we are today, that without having felt pain, we would not be able to heal others. It is with that in mind that we can use the basic Yin Yang symbol to promote self acceptance and healing within ourselves.

You'll need:  a digital camera, printer, scissors, drawing paper, dry glue stick (optional: this can also be done on a pre stretched canvas, with Modge Podge and acrylic paints)

Use a digital camera and take a bunch of photos of your very best feature. It could be your eyes, your hands, your hair, your smile...whatever you think is your very best, the physical thing that is the best about you, take a shot of it.  Take pics at different angles, have a friend take some images and upload the images. Crop the shots so that you have isolated just that part of you that you think is your very best feature. Re size the images so that you have a variety of sizes and shapes to work with in a collage format. Print them out on lightweight card stock or heavy printer paper.

Now, pick up that digital camera again and take some pictures of what you consider your very worst feature. It could be your toes, your crooked teeth, your ear lobes, your broken finger nails, whatever it is, take some photos of it in all its unhappy glory. Again, upload, crop and print as you did before.

Draw out a classic Yin Yang design, a circle with a basic curve design in it that both divides the circle and yet brings the two halves of the circle together in some way. On one half of the circle, cut and paste the Best Part of You features into the space, covering the white of the paper entirely all the way to the edges of the circle and to the separating curve in the center.  Save a small circle of Best part of you image for later.

Yin Yang Collage in Process
On the opposite side of the circle, cut and paste the images of your Worst Parts of you in the same way. Save a circle of the Worst part of you.

Now, glue the circle of the Best part of you onto the Worst part of you side in the upper section to mimic the classic Yin Yang design, repeat with the other side and the Worst part of you circle.

(If you are doing this on canvas you can apply the Modge Podge Decoupage sealer over the entire collage now and allow to dry. Then, once dried, go back over the project with acrylic paint to define the Yin Yang symbol's edges  and to enhance the image as you desire.)

Now, when you stand back and look at your work, what do you see? What do you feel? Do you want to make any further adjustments to your image? Any further enhancements? Why? What does the Yin Yang symbol teach you about accepting your two sides? Can you accept them? Do they balance you? Can they exist without each other? Write out your revelations if you choose around the perimeter of your Yin Yang symbol to complete the project.

Another Option for this project: Instead of using photos, use colors and words to express the personality traits that describe the best parts of you and the worst parts of you, your best traits and worst traits. 

This project has so many different options and various interpretations it can be done over and over again and provide you with new insights each time.


Diane Steinbach is the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

image: flickr
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Attribution Some rights reserved by DonkeyHotey

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Treasuring Grace Book Club Questions for Ch. 15 and 16

Hi Friends, 
We hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer read of Treasuring Grace. If you havent started, its not to late! Pick up a copy and catch up. The discussion questions for previous chapters can all be found on the Treasuring Grace Book Club tab at the top of the blog. 
Here are the discussion questions for Chapters 15 and 16.



We see some more of Jennifer again in Chapter 15.  Describe her and her relationship with Scott.
 
Jennifer calls herself the “Ice Queen”.  She’s demanding and focused on tasks.  She’s sensitive and already feeling the loss of her graduating daughter, but she tries to hide her feelings.  We know from further reading that she evolved into this person after her own abortion.  The graduation of her daughter is particularly poignant knowing that the aborted child could have helped fill the void.
 
Jennifer and Scott enjoy being enemies.  They enjoy trying to irritate each other.  Instead of simply not getting along with each other, they’ve found a way to make their occasional forced contact enjoyable.

SPOILER ALERT QUESTION:
 
Chapter 16 is the Swanson’s day on the lake.  Why is it so enjoyable for them?
 
Liz believes Grace is alive and with them.  Not only does this erase the burden of the abortion, but Liz immensely enjoys her imaginary Grace.   Liz laughs more and does more things.  Everybody enjoys the day more as a result.  Even Scott is willing to go to the party afterwards.
  

Read Chapters 17,18, 19

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