Mary Ann's thoughts and musings

  • Fall Tinkerbell1

    Autumn invitations…

    There are moments in each season that shimmer with aliveness.

    Our invitation is to notice.

    Autumn mornings greet us

    with the first hint of coolness.

    Crisp breezes invigorate our senses,

    stirring embers deep within our soul.

    Sunlight softens as the earth tilts away from the sun.

    Trees blush with reds, yellows, and oranges

    as leaves are invited to release their grasp

    and float on the wind…

    Swirling gently through the air,

    The time has come for letting go.

    Notice this season in your life.

    What is invigorating your soul?

    What are you being invited to release?



    (image by Hilary Mercer Photography)

  • Bless the World With Your Eyes by Christine Valters Paintner




    I am so happy to welcome Christine Valters Paintner to Consecrate the Day!  Christine’s website Abbey of the Arts, Transformative living through Contemplative and Expressive Arts offers wonderful resources, inspiration and sustenance for my personal Spiritual Journey.   Christine’s books and online retreats offer invitations to deeper paths of communion and connection with God.  Christine’s latest book, Eyes of the Heart, Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice explores a way of seeing that goes beyond the superficial, straight to the heart and soul.  I invite you to consider saying “yes” to the invitations within Christine’s blog today…


    Bless the World with Your Eyes


    I resonate deeply with Mary Ann’s invitation in her blog to focus on consecrating the day. It inspires me to consider how might photography become a way to consecrate the day to God?


    I am reminded of the beautiful Jewish practice of blessing the day.  In this worldview, each act becomes worthy of blessing. Gratitude is offered for the gift of every moment – upon awakening, when crossing a threshold, eating a meal, lighting candles. The Talmud calls for 100 blessings each day.


    This act of blessing is really a special way of paying attention. It is a moment of remembering wonder as our primary response to the world. It is an act of consecrating the day.

    Photography is an especially accessible art medium in our modern world, where almost everyone carries a camera built into their phone, or small, portable cameras with good picture quality are widely available.  In my book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice, I suggest ways to engage your camera as a tool for prayer and way to cultivate a different way of seeing the world.  Eyes of the heart refers to a kind of graced vision, that is focused more on receiving gifts, than “taking” photos.  Seeing in this way is different from our ordinary way of scanning our field of vision for the information we want to find.  Instead, it is a spacious gaze which savors each moment.


    In the Benedictine monastic tradition, everything is considered sacred.  The stranger at the door is to be welcomed in as Christ.  The kitchen utensils are to be treated just like the altar vessels.  The hinges of the day call us to remember the presence of God again and again, so that time becomes a cascade of prayers.


    So what if I imagine my eyes as a vessel of blessing?  What if I moved through the day, and each time I felt drawn to take out my camera, I paused before pushing the button and consecrated what I was gazing upon?


    Perhaps I might even say a short prayer: “Bless this shimmering moment, may my eyes receive its gifts, may my heart open ever wider in response.”  You might craft your own holy words.


    In this way, our photography can become an act of deepened awareness and love.  We can begin to see all the everyday things of our lives as openings into the depth dimension of the world.  The steam rising from my coffee, the bird singing from a tree branch outside my window, the doorbell announcing a friend’s arrival, the meal which nourishes my body for service.  Each of these moments invites us to pause and to see it through a different kind of vision.


    Consecrate the day with your camera.  Bless the world with your eyes.  Offer gratitude for every ordinary gift.


    Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, is the online Abbess at Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and community for contemplative practice and creative expression.  She is the author of 7 books on art and monasticism, including her latest, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice (Ave Maria Press). Christine currently lives out her commitment as a monk in the world with her husband in Galway, Ireland.





    Christine Valters Paintner, OblSB, PhD, REACE

    Transformative living through contemplative & expressive arts


    {Subscribe to receive regular Abbey Soul Nourishment straight to your in-box}

    {Sign the Monk Monifesto, watch the Monk in the World Visual Meditation, take a f*ree e-course, or listen to f*ree podcasts}



    Christine is the author of 7 soulful books on monastic spirituality and creative expression:


    Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice (Ave Maria – coming spring 2013!)

    Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings (SkyLight Paths)

    The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom (Ave Maria Press)

    Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art: Transforming Words & Images into Heart-Centered Prayer  (SkyLight Paths)

    Water, Wind, Earth, & Fire: The Christian Spiritual Practice of Praying with the Elements (Ave Maria Press)

    Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction (Morehouse) with Betsey Beckman

    Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening & Awareness (Paulist Press) with Lucy Wynkoop, OSB


  • Pasadena Faith In Action 2013


    This morning, trucks loaded with construction materials headed to homes across the city of Pasadena, Texas.  It was an amazing sight to see!  Christians from many Pasadena churches came together to help our neighbors in need.  Activities included everything from yard work to major home repairs.

    Our site was blessed with Christians from 4 churches who worked together with the homeowner to replace cedar shingles on a home with hardiplank siding, scraping & painting the house, and replacing a door and the flooring under the doorway.

    What I saw more than anything today was hope… Hope in the eyes of the homeowner as she saw repairs happening on her home and participated with us in transforming her home’s appearance.  Hope in the hearts of those who worked together as their love for God overflowed into love for neighbor.  Hope for a future generation that lived out their faith today.

    One precious moment in the day was a conversation between two elementary aged children as they scraped paint in preparation for painting the house…

    “Why do we have to scrape?  My arm is tired.  Can’t we just paint?”


    “It’s like when you have nail polish on and you want to change colors.  You have to take the old polish off first or the new polish won’t be as pretty.”

    They were so precious and worked so hard!


    Our luncheon devotion written by Ron Lyles, the pastor of South Main Baptist Church, captured the essence of the day perfectly…


    We are seemingly quite busy people.  Most of us have plenty of other things that we could be doing today or need to get done today.  We chose instead to do what we are doing.  Why did we make that choice?  It is because we are people of faith, faith in a God who loves us and has shown His love for us in Jesus.

    This Pasadena Faith in Action Day is about showing our community what we are always sharing with them.  God loves people in this world, and so we love people in this world, people in our world, that is our community.

    The Bible does not allow us to choose between declaring our love for others and demonstrating our love for others.  The apostle James expresses it most clearly.

    • In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:17

    James would be proud of us today because we are putting our Christian faith into Christian action.

    As we put our faith into action today, we boldly affirm two powerful attitudes or perspectives.  They are unity and humility.




    We will let Paul speak for us here.  Ephesians 4: 1-6

    As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.


    Today we work out of our one faith in the one God that we love.  We are members of one body of Christ with one purpose, to offer our one service in the power of one Spirit.




    During the last week of His earthly life Jesus served others with complete humility.  He washed dusty feet of His disciples.  The humility in His service to others in practical ways is a worthy pattern for us to follow.  Paul expressed that attitude most beautifully in Philippians 2: 3-8.

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made I human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!

    What a privilege we have today to be walking in the footsteps of Jesus, our supreme example, as we put faith into action by serving others.  (Used with permission)


    Today was a day of unity and hope in the city of Pasadena Texas!  I am filled with gratefulness for the many who participated and pray for continued blessings for the families that allowed us to enter their lives for a day and put our Faith Into Action.

  • Active Faith at Faith In Practice



    Faith In Practice

    I have recently become aware of a medical mission group serving the people of Guatemala.  The more I learn about this group of physicians, nurses, dental, pharmacy, educational and maintenance workers who give of their time in caring for the medical needs of the people of Guatemala, the more I am amazed at the huge hearts of those involved.  I invite you to go to the website for an in-depth view of this wonderful organization.

    Faith In Practice is committed to serving the poor of Guatemala through short-term medical mission trips that take an integrated approach to care that strives to reach those in the greatest need.  Each year, over 1,100 medical professionals and support personnel from across the United States and world travel to Guatemala, paying their own direct expenses to serve the poor through Faith In Practice.  Each year, nearly 700 Guatemalan volunteers work beside our volunteers in this endeavor.  Faith In Practice teams see more than 22,300 patients annually.  Our volunteers serve through a variety of teams that are connected, providing a continuity of care in the context of short term medical mission.

    Why We Go-

    Since the very beginning, Faith In Practice has always sought to serve in response and in gratitude to the grace we have experienced in our own lives.  We also experience the humble blessing that comes when all come together in a common purpose.  In all things, we rely on the calling, wisdom and love of God.  We truly believe that we could do nothing without God’s hand in this work.

    The majority of the Guatemalan population lives in extreme poverty and has virtually no access to medical care.  Over the years, Faith In Practice has developed a deep respect for the medical, clergy, and administrative Guatemalan staff as they seek to meet the needs of the poor. We are honored to join them in this mission.

    Join us in this Life Changing Medical Mission APPLY NOW



    As always, blessings for your journey!

    Mary Ann



  • Happy St. Patrick's Day! Happy Anniversary Consecrate the Day!

    altered clover


    Consecrate the Day celebrates one year today!

    This past year has been an amazing, challenging experience as I have discerned my path forward toward a deeper walk with God.  It has been a time of releasing and a journey toward trusting God in every nook and cranny of my life. One aspect of crossing this threshold is further development of my website, which I hope will be a blessing to you!

    St. Patrick”s prayer is my prayer for you today…

    The Prayer of St. Patrick

    I arise today
    Through the strength of heaven;
    Light of the sun,
    Splendor of fire,
    Speed of lightning,
    Swiftness of the wind,
    Depth of the sea,
    Stability of the earth,
    Firmness of the rock.

    I arise today
    Through God”s strength to pilot me;
    God”s might to uphold me,
    God”s wisdom to guide me,
    God”s eye to look before me,
    God”s ear to hear me,
    God”s word to speak for me,
    God”s hand to guard me,
    God”s way to lie before me,
    God”s shield to protect me,
    God”s hosts to save me
    Afar and anear,
    Alone or in a mulitude.

    Christ shield me today
    Against wounding
    Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
    Christ in me, Christ beneath me, australian casinos online Christ above me,
    Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
    Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
    Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
    Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
    Christ in the eye that sees me,
    Christ in the ear that hears me.

    I arise today
    Through the mighty strength
    Of the Lord of creation

    flourescent clover



    From everything I have read about St. Patrick he was a gentle man with a fierce faith in God.

    I pray for both for you today.

    Blessings today and always dear friends on the journey!

    Mary Ann





  • The Greening has begun…


    I love this time of the year.  Ancient people called it the time of greening that happens in Spring.

    And so the greening begins.  Trees and plants that have been dormant through the winter awaken.  It is a beautiful sight to pokies 88 see!

    Take time to notice the greening of nature in the next few weeks.  As you do, give some thought to what is greening in your soul.  What is reawakening in this season of your life.  My prayer for you today is for your soul to awaken to all the possibilities God has in store for you.

    Mary Ann

  • What is it about a Christmas tree?



    I love to sit by my Christmas tree in the early morning or late evening.  I turn out all the other lights and enjoy the soft glow emanating from the tree.  My ornaments are quite a conglomeration.  Everything from 33 year old ornaments purchased inexpensively at Pier 1 in its early years to beautiful felt ornaments I made the first year I was married, to Christopher Radko metallic ornaments.  The tree sparkles as light shimmers on the various colored metallics and glitter.  Oh, and don’t let me forget the recent Walmart shatterproof ornaments purchased for Chloe that are actually quite lovely.

    So what is it about a Christmas tree?  Christmas trees are full of memories of family and friends, joys shared, of love given and received.  I am reminded of the wonder of Christmas as I see it in my granddaughter’s expression as she looks up at our tree and exclaims “Wow!” in her most precious toddler way.  The lights shimmer in her eyes and the smile on her face is one of innocence and purity, of hope in all that is good and unspoiled in the world, of love pure and sweet, of joy in the simple things in life that make life wonderful.

    So as I sit here one last morning, enjoying the beauty of my Christmas tree, thinking of another babe who brought with him all the same qualities I see in my precious babe, and so much more;  I wish you many blessings.  Most of all, I pray that you open your hearts to what God is manifesting in your world this Christmas season.

    Blessings dear ones!

    Mary Ann



  • Soul Food


    Soul Food

    Butterflies need very specific plants in order to live and reproduce.  They eat nectar from specific plants and they will only deposit their eggs on specific leaves of specific plants and trees.  As humans, we have a deep sense of knowing which people, places, activities and foods nourish our souls.  Unlike the butterfly, we can survive by partaking in relationships, encounters, foods and activities that do not feed our soul and sometimes even harm our soul, but if we are to live fully and freely we must feed our soul.

    So, what is soul food?

    Soul food will be slightly different from person to person.  Consider these ideas for blessing your soul…

    Spend time with people of like mind and heart…

    • Think about people with whom you laugh, love and experience life fully; the kasino people you can relax with; the persons with whom all pretense or masks can be dropped. These are friends of your soul.

    There are places where our souls can breathe…

    • Walk barefoot on a beach, letting the saltwater wash over your feet.  Breathe in the moist salty air.  Listen to the waves…Breathe.

    • Walk in an ancient forest.  Breathe in the verdant moisture of the earth as it filters up through deep roots.  Look up to the sky, shimmering through delicate leaves as they move in the wind.  Listen…listen.  Listen to the sounds within and without.  Savor this moment.


    Spend time with God each day.  Check out some spiritual practices that are great ways to connect with God.  Spiritual practices feed our souls.

    Practice gratefulness.

    • Take a little time each day to acknowledge things in your life that evoke gratefulness in your soul.

    The good things in life come to mind first and foremost when we think of gratefulness.  I want to challenge you to think of ways that difficulties in life can be sources of gratefulness.  Sometimes the most difficult people or situations in our life, those things and people that bring us pain, can be blessings in disguise.  Dissonances can gain our attention and cause us to step out of our comfort zone and into new possibilities.

    Most of all…

    Just as a butterfly

    in flight

    looks for the perfect flower

    as it glides

    on the breath of God…

    Have fun!



    Feed your soul!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Mary Ann

  • Eggs Beach Path1

    Mindful Living

    Over the past few years, as my own spiritual walk has deepened, it has become apparent to me that living mindfully is an enriching experience.  Most of our lives are very fast paced at this point and the thought of slowing down enough to consider what is happening in any given moment seems foreign to us.

    Mindfulness includes being present in and aware of my thoughts, feelings, resonances and aversions in the present moment.  Acknowledging them, staying with them for a time and then releasing them.  This presence and awareness to the moment can be very eye opening.

    So often, we like to remain in the joys and pleasures of our life and seek to avoid people or situations that bring dissonance or uncomfortableness.  In fact,we often put great energy into avoiding things that bring pain.  Mindful living calls us to lean into that pain, if just for a moment.  In acknowledging the dissonance, the pain, we take the first step toward healing.

    Mindfulness carries with it renewal and contentment.  These come over time and can be found in profound simpleness.  Try these ideas…

    • Notice the wind blowing a leaf gently to and fro…
    • Watch a squirrel leap from treetop to treetop…
    • Slow down for a short time daily.
    • Pay attention to your breath…take time to let your soul breathe.
    • Take a walk, open your senses to notice all the sights and sounds you usually ignore.
    • Be gentle with yourself.
    • Sit and sip a glass of tea and just be in this moment with God.
    • Lean into the pain you feel when you are hurt or rejected; step outside yourself and notice where the source of the discomfort originates; stay with your feelings for a time, take a breath and release your pain.  Know that God is with you in this moment.
    • Do the things that refresh your soul.

    Mindful living includes-

    • Living in the present moment
    • The realization that God is present in this moment.
    • Practicing gratefulness- is the site of Br. David Steindl Rast.

    Take time to view the video called “A Good Day” …you will be blessed.

  • A Call for Creative Expressions of Faith…

    Dear friends on the journey,

    One thing I want to accomplish with this site is to provide ideas for deepening one”s relationship with God. One of my primary goals in creating this website is to discuss ways to consecrate each and every day ?????? and moment to God.  If we take something that we love to do and invite God into the midst of the activity, the experience can be transformed and can be used to develop an ever closer relationship with God.  This act of invitation becomes a sacred moment of connectedness with God.

    Today, I am inviting creative people of faith…poets, artists, jewelry makers, cartoonists, photographers.. who find creative expression a wonderful way to journey toward God, to share your creative expressions here as a way to encourage others on the spiritual journey.

    Blessings today and always!

    Mary Ann

  • Putting Our Faith Into Action


    Pasadena Faith In Action


    Sometimes the grace of God overflows into action in our lives.  Yesterday an amazing thing happened in Pasadena, Texas.  Churches from all over the city came together to put their faith into action.  We united to share our faith with hammers slots and nails and scrapers and roofing materials in order to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It was amazing!

  • Home

    Step into your faith…

    Think of Spiritual Practices as a way of stepping into your faith, much like stepping into a body of water…

    I love to walk along the beach at the water”s edge.  Sites, sounds, and sensations abound as my feet are tickled by the water”s touch.  Waves in the distance are reduced to a gentle whisper as they push water gently over the sandy shore.  Clear water flows over the sand, caressing my feet.  Shells glide along, weightless in the tide.  Clams burrow into the sand as tiny crabs skitter quickly across the surface looking for their next meal.  There is safety on the edge.  One can take in the beauty of the ocean, the waves, the wetness without being engulfed by the water.

    My pastor, John Stephenson, is an avid surfer.  John knows what it is like to be in the water.  This is part of his description of surfing…”The thing about surfing is that you glide across the water powered by the energy present in a wave. It is an energy that comes as a gift from far away. As that energy reaches the shoreline it dies on the sand. It is an honor to dance with that energy in its final moments. The memory of that dance, the ride, stays with you and it has a transforming effect over time. It breeds humility because we know we don”t deserve that honor. It breeds respect because we know that energy has the potential to take our life as it loses its own. It breeds gentleness because you learn you don”t “make things happen”, you learn to go with the flow and receive with gratitude the gifts that come. It breeds joy because it is just play casino online ridiculously fun to ride waves.”

    One of my most vivid memories of my husband, Curtis, is of a moment on a family vacation when he took an unexpected plunge into 33 degree water in the Great Smoky Mountains.

    • Imagine water formed from thawing ice caps on the Smoky Mountains…
    • Imagine an experienced water sportsman, Order of the Arrow Eagle Scout, father, husband, wilderness enthusiast…
    • Imagine an inner tube with a wooden platform on top that makes your center of gravity entirely too high…
    • Imagine the look on Curtis” face when instead of gliding atop the icy water he flipped upside down into rushing water…

    For a moment the water literally took his breath away.

    So whether you are ready to let the water tickle your feet at the edge, glide along on the energy of a wave, or take the plunge that takes your breath away…Take the first step into your faith journey.  The water is fine…in this water you will find refreshment for your soul!

  • IMG 25251

    Don't Look Away…

    Next week is Holy Week in the Christian Church.

    This is the week in which we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The images associated with Jesus” last week are difficult to take in.  I usually avoid looking at them or at most, glance at the images before looking away.  These moments are very challenging to contemplate.

    This year I have spent the past few weeks creating artworks that tell the story of Jesus” last week.  Along with my paintings, I chose sacred images from the Renaissance and Baroque periods and embellished them using modern techniques, textures and color.  Each work required many hours over several days.  This year, I literally could not look australia online casinos away.

    In staying with the images, an awareness came to mind that amidst the harsh reality of Jesus” suffering, a kinship was born with humanity…

    We all casino online holland experience suffering of one kind or another, not of the magnitude of Christ, but suffering nonetheless.  The loss of a job, betrayal by someone we love, illness, pain, humiliation, mockery, poverty of spirit, or death of a loved one, bring suffering.  Suffering is part of the human condition.

    We want to look away.

    If we don”t look, perhaps the suffering will not reach us.

    We turn away…

    This Holy Week, look at the images of the last week in Jesus” life.  Remain with Him in his suffering, knowing that he is with you when you experience suffering.

    Remain with Him this week.

    Don”t look away.

  • Excited to launch new website!

    This is my sample blog…

    ?????? ????????

Page 2 of 2«12

Sign up for a free Journey Circles Experience Here!

You have Successfully Subscribed!