Archive for April 2014

Inspiration in a Single Bluebird   Leave a comment

What inspires you? Here’s a little something that inspired me.

Erin Sloan Jackson Art

I have been enamored with this bird silhouette for a few weeks. It all started as a picture in a book on bluebirds. Longing to master sketching birds, I drew the bird several times in my sketchbook. I just love the freedom of spirit that a bird in flight represents. We really are meant to soar, you know.

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I cut out the sketch I liked best and have been using it as the starting point for three pieces so far:

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I love that a single photograph has transformed into so many versions.

What about you? What inspires you? Which dream are you pursuing?

Blessings,
Erin

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Project 365: Day 103 How Not to be *That* Sports Parent   Leave a comment

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We are a sports family.  Between the 3 kids, my husband and myself, we have played soccer, cross country, track, baseball, basketball, football and cheerleading.  As an athlete, a sports mom and also a coach, I spend a lot of time at games and practices, and a lot of time on the sidelines.  Today I even had the special opportunity to watch my niece play in a volleyball tournament in Dallas (my picture of the day.)  What really struck me this weekend were the voices and messages from the parents and fans around me.

For the most part, the parents and other coaches I overhear are supportive and encouraging, but not all of them.  I heard a coach reprimanding his player-son this weekend in a way I would never accept as a way he could coach my child.  I’ve half-joked with other parents that you can always tell who the coach’s kids are because the coach reserves a special tone of voice for yelling at their own kid…although to be fair, usually that same coach’s kid reserves a special tone of voice for talking back to his coach.  Among the fans, there are a handful of parents that say things like “Why did you do that?!” “Are you going to actually play hard this game?” “What were you thinking?!”

I’ve also overheard  plenty of parent-fans openly and loudly criticize the calls of refs, usually just teenagers or volunteers working as a referee for the game.  My brother shared with me that the niece I watched play today has spent time working as a referee, and was really hurt by snide comments fans made about her calls.  My niece is beautiful, smart, talented and an all around lovely young person, so it’s painful to hear about how thoughtless parents/fans could be.

It’s tough to just sit there and hear kids getting berated like that, especially about playing a game.  Sure, it’s tough to watch the kids you love lose a game or play poorly, but that doesn’t mean it is your job to criticize them.  I love sports and I hope that kids grow up loving sports too…but I wonder if how we adults are on the sidelines can kill the joy of sports. I even wonder how many of these vocal critics could play any better if they were on the field. There is a lot to be said for encouragement over criticism.  In fact, I think there are really important lessons here for parents, coaches and youth ministers alike.

To parents and fans:  As an athlete, I can tell you that players know full well when they mess up.  There are plenty of self-critical voices. Critical voices from the crowd or from parents especially do not help.  Here’s an idea on what a parent or fan could say at the end of a bad game or play instead of criticism:

Good: “I am proud of what a good team player you are/of how hard you work.”

Really good: “I loved watching you play!”

Even better, add: “I especially loved when you did [specific play here].”

The message that gets caught here is one of love, no matter what.  Add to this an offer to work on a specific skill in between games, or to somehow spend quality time with the kid, and you’ve got a kid who knows unconditional love.

To the coaches: The best coaches I’ve seen will substitute out a player after a bad play to explain on the sidelines what could be done differently, then put the player back in.  It’s the difference between openly criticizing (ouch!) and patiently redirecting…which may feel like the difference between being scolded/embarrassed versus being taught.  To the parents who are coaches (myself included here), let’s remember to try to treat our own kids like a part of the team – neither giving them special treatment beyond the rest of the team, nor giving them harsher criticism.

To my fellow youth ministers: There are great lessons learned on the playing field for youth ministry.  Our “players,” the members of our youth ministry, need us to come alongside as encouraging voices and coaches, not critics.  They need us to come alongside their lives and not say things like, “what were you thinking??!” “Why did you mess up like that?!” but rather, send messages into their lives that say, “I love watching you grow in your faith!” “I’m proud of who you are becoming.”  “I loved when you did [this specific act of love, grace, mercy].”  When youth mess up, we can quietly pull them aside, coach better behavior and then send them back in.  Correct privately, praise publicly.

What results from this is players (youth) who know unconditional love – that’s what we hope for, right?

Blessings,

Erin

Questions:

How do you handle critical voices?

How can you relate sports and faith?

Who has inspired you as a coach?

How do you encourage others?

 

 

 

 

Project 365: Day 100 Wholeness   Leave a comment

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I love Whole Foods grocery stores. There isn’t one near my house, so it’s a rare treat. I love walking the aisles surrounded by vibrant colors and aromas of natural, organic, healthy foods, most of which are foreign to me. Chia, flax, collard, gluten-free, vegan super foods with brands like Annie’s and Kathleen’s and Organic Pete’s. It almost feels like shopping in a foreign country’s market.

I’ve been focusing on the word “whole” a lot in my prayer life lately. Having been so broken for the last couple of years has made me appreciate the fullness, the vibrancy of Wholeness. I am so thankful to the God that restores my soul and makes me whole again.

From 1 Thessalonians 5:

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Blessings,
Erin

Questions:
Do you have certain words that speak to your heart? What are they?

Project 365: Day 99 A Lent/Passover Bible Study on John 13:1-35   Leave a comment

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Wednesday night is senior high Bible study night (SBUMCSHBS). Tonight we continued our series on the book of John and Jesus’s last days. Tonight’s lesson was multisensory and went really well, so I thought I would share it with everyone.

Supplies: dish tubs filled with warm water, towels, chairs, hand sanitizer, matzah, kosher grape juice, kosher candy (optional), Kings Hawaiian Sweet Bread loaf (or whatever your church uses typically for communion)

Introduction:
The study begins before anyone enters the room. A sign on the door asks participants to remove their shoes and socks, and to enter and sit quietly.

In silence: One person at a time, leaders guide each person to a chair in front of the water tub. Ceremonially wash and dry each person’s feet. We ended with leaders washing each other’s feet.

Pause.

Then we welcomed everyone to Bible study and reviewed the stories we have been reading (for us it was Jesus raising Lazarus and Mary anointing Jesus’s feet)

We took turns reading parts of John 13. I’m putting the text here, courtesy of Biblegateway.com, with some of the discussion questions interjected:

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

This led to discussion about whether or not Jesus was naked under the towel. Did towels look like we think of today? The good news is we are in the habit of visualizing the stories as we read! (Religious scholars and historians feel free to help us out here. I’m just reporting what we talked about.)

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

At this point we talked about how it was a common practice of hospitality to provide a basin for washing guests’ feet. The actual washing would be done by a slave, not the host, so Jesus’s act had more meaning. How did it feel to have your feet washed?

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned[a] against me.’[b]

19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

At this point I introduced the matzah and explained it’s history in Jewish tradition. We talked about the significance of unleavened bread to God’s saved people. I also taught about what “kosher” food means. We sampled kosher grape juice with a piece of matzah as we read the next section:

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

Snap! What just happened? What did it look like when Satan entered Judas?

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Here we tried the sweet bread so everyone could taste the difference between leavened and unleavened bread.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,[c] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The last two verses are our memory verses for next week. Whoever can recite them next week earns a candy prize. To close the lesson we shared our joys and concerns, we prayed, and then everyone got to sample a piece of kosher candy on their way out.

Questions:
How does it feel to have someone serve you?
When have you served others?
How is your foot washing like baptism?
Which character would you be in this story?
What did you think of the foods?
How do you show love to one another?

Project 365: Day 93 Art with my Kids   Leave a comment

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Taking a cue from their mom, Trey and Kat felt inspired to paint tonight. Soccer practices were called off due to weather so it was a perfect chance to make art.

Here’s what I made:

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The middle school classes are collecting gift cards and my painting will be part of a “Giftcard Tree” for the ACA Auction and Gala Fundraiser.

And a highlight if my day – unexpected lunch date with my BFF at BFF:
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Posted April 3, 2014 by erinjackso in Personal Blog, Photo Blog

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Project 365: Day 92 My Crazy Idea   Leave a comment

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I almost forgot to take a picture today. Other than Zumba class with mom, I spent most of my day sitting at a computer working on another scholarship application – which was completely lost when Safari suddenly shut down (grrrrr.)

I’m going to seminary in the Fall and I even got an article posted on Youthworker Movement today about my journey. You can check it out here.

The article mentions the expense of seminary, which is of course why I’m spending any spare hours working on scholarship applications. I also applied for a part time job that I hope will both give me a new type of nonprofit work experience, but also help us prepare for college financially.

What I’d rather be doing is working on turning the above unfinished pieces into art. So this is where I admit to a crazy idea – how about selling the art I make to help pay for seminary? It’s a long shot possibly, but why not? I’m thinking either open up an Etsy shop online, or sit on a corner with a cardboard sign saying “Will Make Art for Seminary Tuition.” (Probably the former, I’ll keep you posted.)

What do you think? Should I do the crazy thing? Anybody want a commissioned piece of art made with much love and gratitude?

Blessings,
Erin

Questions: What would you do if you could get paid to do what you love? Is that the same or different than what you do now?

Project 365: Day 91 Creative time   Leave a comment

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I got a lot of productive work done today, scholarship essays and other legwork, but I also carved out an hour to go to my happy place, my painting table.

I painted and got my hands sticky with gel medium. I’m working on about 5 mixed media canvases at once, alternating as my heart whispers to me. I would love to create art that inspires others, and I would love to inspire others to create art.

If we are the sons and daughters of a Creative God, and we are made in His image, it only makes sense to me that we can draw closer to Him as we explore our creativity. How do you do this?