Central IL

Ignite Peoria & 500 wishes

Ignite Peoria is a creative arts event in my city. It’s happened a few years now, but this was my first year attending.

Of course I had to dress creatively for the event, and had to get a picture of my fun outfit:

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It’s not quite like most creative arts fairs where you attend and look at artists booths and buy so many beautiful things. It has that aspect, but it’s more interactive. ¬†There’s speakers and performances. My friend Kim and I enjoyed learning about whips – and of course discussed how to implement that into our stories ūüôā

I don’t actually know how many people attended and hung wishes on the tree, but about 1000 were “Interested” in the event on Facebook, and about 500 clicked “Attending” on the Facebook event. So I figure 500 is a good estimate.

As you entered the event, there was a breathtaking display with a Wishing Tree and tables and tables of trinkets to create a visual representation of your hopes and dreams:

 

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Kim and I created our trinkets and hung them, but the end result of so many Peoria wishes was stunning:

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All in all, we had a blast and can’t wait til next year. We met some great people and had a great time exploring so many of the art forms:

 

Oh, and of course there was this gorgeous floral backdrop, and Kim insisted “We have to get a picture of the back of your head there!” She knows my brand, and let that be a branding lesson for you all ūüėČ haha

 

Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015

 

“Hey! How do you get out of here?”

 

“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.

 
 
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I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.

 
 

I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and¬†hoped to God this wasn’t who I am.¬†Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.

 
 

“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015

 
 

It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.

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But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.

 
 
 

In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.

 
 

“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”

 
 

“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”

 
 
 

“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”

 
 
 

Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that¬†bottled up within us, terrified to face it¬†yet seeing it¬†every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my¬†own¬†doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.
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And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.

 
 
 
 

You Are Strong

 
 

I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack¬†where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.

 
 
 

Blog Signature - Crisper
 
 

Faith, for the Creatives, for the Writers

5 Things I Learned at Karitos 2014

This post could be “500 things I learned at Karitos 2014” I think. My brain and my heart is full and processing. But I decided to keep this short and sweet.

Photo cred: Maggie Schoepke
Photo cred: Maggie Schoepke
  1. Art Ministry is Helps Ministry

    Multiple speakers hit on this. Our calling in Scripture is not to make music or dance or write or act. Our calling is service, our calling is reconciliation, our calling is love. We are not the worship ministry team or the sound techs or the drama team, we are helps ministry. I hope I live this out more and more.

  2. We Must Write for Others

    Blogposts and books and speakers seem to disagree on this. You hear never write for others, but write for yourself. You hear to keep your readers in mind. It’s all a back and forth. Yet here I am saying that I learned we MUST write for others. First off, multiple speakers brought up great points on this, but Jane Rubietta specifically mentioned it. Writing for others makes us responsible and deliberate in our writing. And our spiritual life always affects others; we are “the body,” so what affects me affects you. So we need to always be aware that what we are writing is for others as much as ourselves.

  3. It’s Not a Waste

    J. Scott McElroy spoke about Mary of Bethany dumping the alabaster jar on Jesus. Times with our art can seem like a waste. I could be DOING something! Yet it’s for Jesus, it’s not a waste. And what did Jesus say? “Years from now, people will be talking about this.” And we are.

  4. Interruptions are a Part of the Plan

    Whether interruptions in life or in our writing, God isn’t shocked by them. In fact, He often is planning this. What is God wanting from this interruption? When Jesus healed the blind man in Mark 10, He was on His way to the Palm Sunday celebration. But He stopped. Interruptions are for a reason. I want to be able to find the reason and be open to interruption.

  5. Karitos Isn’t About Learning

    Yeah, you learn alot. And that’s the hope of course. Days and weeks and months later, you’re still processing what happened there. But it’s not about the learning. It’s about the happening. Going with the flow of God and celebrating the arts in every form with likeminded people who are seeking God like crazy in their own crazy way. This is why I hope to be a part of Karitos for a long time to come.

    Want more info? Visit the Karitos site, or like them on facebook. Register for next year, only 65$ this month (almost 50% discount.)

    Photo credit: Maggie Schoepke is one of the coolest people ever. She took the amazing photo in this post, of me and the bathroom decor (coolest bathroom ever at Wheaton Academy!). You can visit Maggie’s blog here.