Central IL, Faith

Karitos 2019

Yes, I’m telling you about something that happened this summer, but #throwbackthursday mmkay? 🙂

For five years now, I’ve been attending the Karitos Christian creative arts conference in the greater Chicago area. This year it was in Streator IL, closer than ever to my house as it’s usually much further north.

(I’m pictured with author Olivia J. Bennett and flagger/author Kim Kouski. Check out Olivia’s book A Cactus in the Valley and Kim’s fantasy novel Hidden Secrets (those are affiliate links – I may receive a portion of sales).

I’ve written past posts about Karitos and what I’m learning there, but here’s overall what keeps bringing me back:

  • a gathering of creatives
  • creating together in all art forms
  • worshipping God and figuring out how their art fits into that

You can find that first one a number of places. The other 2 are harder to come by. If you can find a place that combines the things you love, go.

Photography by Kim Kouski on our way to the event

You can find a thousand writers conferences, but one that includes dancers and visual artists and actors and filmmakers and musicians and…. All those together feed off of each other into an amazing creative experience.

And, while I don’t write within the Christian genre, it’s beautiful to find a place where my giftings can contribute to my faith community and my worship.

And now, a couple exciting milestones of mine with this year’s event:

A couple amazing things happened for me personally this year.

The past 3 years I’ve been assisting with the Literary Arts department, and as of last year, I’m the department head for Literary Arts. This was my first Karitos that I was responsible for making Literary Arts workshops happen, and it was a delight to see it all turn out. To be able to step into ministry in a way that uses my passion and giftings is such a privilege.

And the other thing: Last year’s Karitos, I took Angel’s selfpublishing workshop. This year, my book was in the Karitos bookstore alongside hers. We got a photo to document our excitement…

Check out Angel’s devotional, Love’s Great Design (affiliate link).

So that was my experience at this year’s Karitos. And we’re already on to planning the next! Maybe Karitos 2020 will have you in it? 😉

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

Indy Trip 2015: Karitos

Karitos Indy 2015

Karitos brings together artists of all types – musicians, dancers, writers, painters, actors, and everything in between. We have breakout sessions on our area of interest, but all get together for large sessions to be all artsy together. It’s also a Christian conference, so the best part is we learn about glorifying God in and through our art, as well as life. I love that there’s this comraderie of we’re-all-in-this-together instead of a spirit of competition and narcissism (quite common among creatives, even myself.) Such a refreshing retreat! I am mostly writer, so most of the sessions I went to were about writing.

My favorite parts were the general sessions all together, but I appreciated a lot of other parts. I came up with a blogpost idea from Paul Lloyd’s Blogging session. It will be titled “How to Find the Circus.” Be looking for that in the near future 🙂 He also gave lots of ideas for content to publish – I’m toying with the idea of making some vlogs because of his session, even though I’m even less videogenic than I am photogenic. We’ll see.

Leanzar Stockley’s worship session continued his theme from last year, on loving others and reconciliation. He reminded us that our art is for God and others – we dance or write or paint or sing for others.

In Donna Cherry’s “Taking It to the Streets” she said everywhere she goes, she assumes she’s sent. So refreshing to remember wherever I am, God has me there for a reason. Living with expectation. She also talked about a healing that happened through her, though she wasn’t even praying for healing. Just with an unintentional touch. She said we shouldn’t think that God will only work through us when we’re trying to have Him work through us. So true. It made me think of the woman healed by touching Jesus’ cloak. And He said, “Who touched me? I felt power go out from me.” JESUS unintentionally healed, why not us?

Finally, in Tim Swain’s Spoken Word session, it was fun to play with spoken word and presentation – as well as his exortation to make writing excellent, because Christians tend towards “If it’s for God, it doesn’t have to be quality.” Ughhhhh, that’s one lie that irks me from Christian culture. Don’t think that you can slide by in mediocrity because you have the stamp of Jesus approval on your work. Excellence is so key. Tim Swain said, “They’ll respect your art before they respect your message.”

One of my favorite parts of Karitos is getting to know other artists, other stories, other dreams. Here’s Linda Harris-Iorio’s artwork that was displayed and/or painted right there – her connection with God’s heart is so encouraging.

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I’m so pumped for the big event – Karitos Retreat in Chicago. Cause one Karitos just isn’t enough 🙂 Come join me! After Karitos ended, we headed to finish our scavenger hunt (come back for tomorrow’s post.)

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.