Archive for the ‘Photo Blog’ Category

Retreated: 2 Things Learned This Week   Leave a comment

This week I retreated to a camp in Glen Rose, Texas, for three days of spiritual retreat. Going on a minimum 3 day spiritual retreat is a requirement for my ordination in the United Methodist Church. I had a lot of flexibility on how the retreat itself would go.

Inspired by the TED Talk I heard from “planet walker” John Francis, I decided to incorporate silence and not using a vehicle as part of my retreat.

Two things I learned in the process:

1. It is relatively easy to be silent when you’re by yourself, but it is a challenge to be around people without feeling pressured to say something. For most of my time away, I was on the camp by myself. I went for a long walks, I hiked through the forest, I spent time creating art and reading. I was quiet.

In the silence, I was able to rest. I was able to just be, just listen. I noticed things I might have overlooked – the smell of dew in the morning, the sound of deer as they scamper away, even the sound of a bird’s wings flapping. I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired.

On the few occasions I walked in to town, people were friendly and I felt compelled to speak. The person I talked to the longest, an elderly man in an antique store, seemed lonely. While a vow of silence seems like a noble idea, sometimes small talk is a compassionate act.

2. Sometimes I have to consciously choose to feel safe. One of the hardest parts about being by myself, especially as a petite female, was getting over feeling anxious about possible dangers. I had to let that fear go in order to feel at peace. The fears of unknown dangers, especially while walking alone at night in the dark, cluttered up my thoughts.

Once I made the conscious choice that I was going to feel safe, I could enjoy nature fully. I was able to pray and sing like no one could hear me. It was only then that I could fully experience God’s presence.

I think it’s worth mentioning that living in a culture that feels dangerous even if the dangers are not real makes spirituality more difficult. When I walk alone at night, a part of my brain is constantly on the lookout for possible attacks, alert for sudden movements around the corner. I cannot be the only woman who feels this way. It’s a bit heartbreaking to have to choose to feel safe. My hope is that by mentioning it we can all work together for more peace, working to create a culture of safety. (Maybe you were expecting me to learn something more profound, and I did learn other things – I spent a lot of time reading, studying, writing and creating. There will be more blog posts to come.)

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ” 2 Timothy 1:7

Project 365: Day 168 Commissioned Art for Good Causes   Leave a comment

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It’s no secret that I love creating art. Especially art with meaning.

I have a few projects I have been asked to paint this summer. One is for my kids’ school outdoor learning center. The second is for bulletin covers for a series of church services. Today I had time to work on rough drafts and the beginning stages of the projects, here are a couple of works in progress.

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It is my dream to pay for seminary (or at least my textbooks!) through art sales. Feel free to pass on my name if you know of anyone looking for artistic help. My Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ErinSloanJacksonArt

Project 365: Day 163 Wrapping up Art Camp   Leave a comment

Last Thursday (I’m catching up on my blogposts.)

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Project 365: Day 162 When Family Becomes Friend   Leave a comment

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Life comes to us in seasons. In childhood, we are babies, small children, big kids, preteens and teens first. Then we get to be young adults, middle aged adults and so on.

I believe the leap from childhood to adult is one of the more fascinating seasons, probably why I have spent so many years in youth ministry. One of the great joys of youth ministry is that we get to be on the sidelines as these seasons of life change for the youth. It is humbling to watch someone go from high school student to discovering themselves as adults. You can guess, but you might not ever be able to fully predict how youth will turn out. Occasionally I’ve had the great privilege of reconnecting with former youth and they have crossed over to become my adult friends.

It wasn’t in my youth ministry per se, but for about the last 25 years, I’ve loved watching my nieces make this journey too. I am really excited and proud of how they are turning out.
This week I’ve also discovered that family can cross over to become adult friends as well. This is a joy in our new season of family life.

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Project 365: Day 161 Joy of Painting   Leave a comment

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At Art Camp Day 2, we studied the color wheel, warm and cool colors and paint! We began our work on an acrylic painting of a whimsical tree. It was fun to watch art unfold from the paintbrushes and imagination of 6-9 year olds.

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Posted June 14, 2014 by erinjackso in Erin Sloan Jackson Art, Personal Blog, Photo Blog

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Project 365: Day 160 First Day of Unofficial Art Camp   Leave a comment

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During the last several months, I have discovered a love for creating art and I have a dream of sharing that love with others. The process of creating art can be relaxing, healing, even a way to connect with God. I would love to lead a ministry someday that encourages people to nurture their creativity.

I often use art and creative expression as part of the senior high Bible study I teach. Even though I have more enthusiasm than artistic talent, I don’t let that hold me back. This summer I thought I’d experiment with leading a mini art camp at my house.

How it worked: I invited just enough students (my friends’ kids) to fit around my kitchen table. I researched ideas from Pinterest and my own art classes, picked up supplies, sketched out a lesson plan. Old shirts were purchased from Goodwill to serve as art smocks, a drop cloth was out down, and voila! Art Camp!

Day One was focused on drawing faces and basic art elements. We created art journals and portfolios.

As a class, we came up with the following rules before we started:

1. We are all artists. (We are made in the image if a great Creator and Artist – Claim it!)
2. Be nice to others.
3. Sharing is what we do.
4. Be nice to yourself. (We tend to be our own harshest critics so those negative thoughts were not allowed at Art Camp!)
5. Everything is an experiment.
6. Be careful.

Pretty good rules to live by, don’t you think?

How could you adapt this idea and use it in your ministry? Who can you ask for help?

Here are pictures from Day One of Art Camp:

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Project 365: Day 148 A Letter to My New Teenager   Leave a comment

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Today is Trey’s 13th birthday.  I dedicate this post to him.

Dennis Jay Jackson, III, or “Trey” as we have always called him, arrived unexpectedly early on Memorial Day of 2001.  He was not due to arrive for another month, but when I was having some medical issues that day, the doctor on call said to go to the ER “just in case.”  It was a holiday, after all, so my doctor’s office was closed, I’d like to point out it really didn’t feel like anything worthy of an emergency room.

Nevertheless, my husband, Dennis heard the words “emergency room,” and went into full “this is it” mode.  He even made me bring my overnight hospital bag.  He wouldn’t even let me walk from the parking lot, but insisted that I be dropped off at the ER door.  All of this felt like overkill to me, I might add.  

Needless to say, it was quite a surprise a few minutes later to learn that my “issues” were that I was actually in early labor! It turned out our little one wanted to arrive feet first, so this meant I’d be having an emergency surgery and having a baby right away.  Dennis Jay Jackson III was born a short while later at 1:53PM, weighing just 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

Just a few days later we were driving home from Arlington Memorial Hospital with a tiny, but perfectly healthy, baby boy.  Honestly, we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into.  You know, they’ll let you take your baby home from the hospital as long as you have an infant car seat, they don’t even ask if you have any idea how to be a parent!  

Well, for the last 13 years, we’ve been able to figure out a little bit about what it means to be parents.  It’s too early to tell the results, we are far from finished, but I can say I am very proud of how our son is turning out so far.

Trey, you are one of life’s greatest blessings to your dad and I.  We are so very proud of you.  I especially love how you show compassion for others and want to help people.  Your involvement in church youth ministry and especially mission trips warms my heart.  I love that you care so much about what is going on in the world and I really learn a lot through you and your discoveries.  I love when we get to go on runs together. I love your art. I like your character and how you seem to be picking good friends.  I really like you, Trey.  I even like that your feet are now bigger than mine and we look at each other eye to eye already.  

My prayer for you as you officially enter life as a teenager is that you continue to grow in your faith and in your walk with God.  I can already see the plans God has for you unfolding, and it is exciting to be on the sidelines cheering for you as you discover God’s plan for you life.

Happy birthday, son.  We love you.

Posted May 28, 2014 by erinjackso in Personal Blog, Photo Blog

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Project 365: Day 126 I made the Youthworker Journal!   Leave a comment

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I’m tempted to play it cool, but I’m really excited and honored to have been selected to write a feature article for The Youthworker Journal. This is a very big deal for me! I have copies of YWJ going back over fifteen years – and now my name is on the front cover. As my husband pointed out, I not only made the cover, I made Marko’s beard! How crazy is that?

My article is about 1800 words on how we as youth workers can explain brain research to parents and answer the question that plagues every parent of a teenager: “Is my kid normal?”. I loved the process of researching and long form writing for the journal.

I only subscribe to the magazine electronically now, so I’m hoping to get my hands on an actual paper magazine copy soon. It is very cool have part of the Youthworker Movement represented in YWJ!

Project 365: Day 122 My Family is a Meme   Leave a comment

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When my high school friend sent me a message today on Facebook about a photo, my first instinct was that it was spam.

“Is this your family?” she asked. She sent this picture:

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“Yes.” I responded.

“I just saw it on a joke website… “And then she put the link. Well, I wasn’t about to click on it because surely it was spam, right?

So I asked her to tell me more about the site, you know, just to make sure it wasn’t an automated conversation. Her response told me that, sure enough, my family is a meme.

The photo itself was either lifted without my permission from my Instagram or this blog post: http://umyouthworker.com/2013/08/28/day-2-of-30-day-youthmin-blog-challenge-where-youd-like-to-be-in-10-years/

I’m not sure how I feel about being included in this list of things that have aged 10 years. I guess I’ve aged better than Britney Spears, and nobody ages better than Pharrell. Since only a tiny percentage of the world’s population will either click on the site or know it’s me, I’m not really that worried about it. It’s annoying. It’s not super flattering.

Should I be concerned, or just glory in the fame?

The same image also showed up here:

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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?