Monday, July 28, 2014

Papa Ken Time

Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed by JD Gravitt

As a staff, one of our favorite elements of the 18 Inch Journey is the amount of surprises that we tuck within the 60 days.  However, the way that we find ourselves catching the most traction is within the schedule that we dream up with the Father.  Before the students arrive, the full 60 days are intentionally prayed over and mapped out by our Core Staff.  In planning, we carve out specific times for consistent classes or blocks, which we refer to as rhythms. We use the word rhythms because these classes and activities that we keep coming back to set the cadence and the pace for the summer. They are the beautiful boundaries that we operate within; they keep us on track and create safety through consistency. 

One of our favorite rhythms during the school is Papa Ken Time.  Papa Ken Time is a chance that the students have to sit down with the founding father of this land, a true pioneer in the faith, and ask him questions and hear his heart.  Every weekday morning, Ken meets with one of the five small groups over breakfast.  Often times, Ken will share something that has been on his heart, something that he felt the Lord share with him in their time together earlier in the morning.  In addition, Papa Ken frequently shares from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  The students have the opportunity to glean wisdom from someone who has gone before them – to ask questions that they have on their hearts and learn from someone who has so much to teach and share. 

In addition to weekly Papa Ken Time, Ken and his wife Mrs. Linda invite each small group up to their house for a Sunday Lunch during the school. During these Sunday lunches, the students get to have more intentional time hearing family stories and learning more about Ken and Linda and A Place for the Heart.  These times with Ken and Linda are one of the greatest gifts the students receive during the summer. 

As young people, it is extremely rare to have someone who is generations ahead of us that wants to intentionally invest in our lives, pray for us and answer our questions.  Our community is exceedingly grateful for Papa Ken and the way that he has chosen to give his life to see our generation fall more in love with Jesus. Many times, including this summer, he has chosen to decline overseas ministry trips, just so that he can pour into the students who have come to be here. So many of the staff have had seasons where we have been invited to sit around Ken’s table and hear his stories and each of us that have had this opportunity have been forever changed because of it. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Heart and Art

Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed JD Gravitt

The 18 Inch Journey is built on the pillars of Creativity, Community and Worship.  Though it isn’t necessarily an art school, we do a lot of art.  We love creativity in all forms. We are a community of photographers, artists, writers, musicians, cinematographers, chefs, bookmakers and dancers. What we love most about art is the way that it is so expressive of the heart.  Art, in all true forms, is a mirror that reflects what is going on inside of the heart of the artist.  

Every Tuesday and Friday, our students participate in a rotation that we call Art/Heart.  During this time, the students are split into two groups.  The first group spends the first half of the time in an art class with Justina while the second group spends the time in a session where one of the staff members shares something they wrote for the Eighteen Inch Journey book.  The students spend an hour and a half in the session and then switch—the students who were in Art go to the Heart session, and the students in the Heart session make their way to Art. 

In the art classes, the students typically spend time working in their history books.  History books are an artistic tradition at the 18 Inch Journey.  A history book is a space to creatively log your history with the Lord.  In the art sessions, Justina along with the Art Interns, Kateland and Lindsay, teach art lessons on color theory, line quality and technique.  Additionally, the students are given various art assignments, referred to as prompts, to explore their heart and the work of their hands.  These lessons and prompts are completed in the students’ history books. Some of the students that come to the Journey are art majors and others have never held a paintbrush in their hand.  There are all levels of experience, and in the art barn, all of the students are working alongside one another creating and discovering who they truly are as artists.

In the heart session, the students have an opportunity to hear from one of our staff members and learn more about their personal journey and experience.  Each session, a different staff member leads the students through a piece that they submitted to the Eighteen Inch Journey book. The Journey students get a chance to listen and ask questions and are often given a prompt to complete in their journal. At the last Art/Heart session, Chris Miller shared on the Goodness of God and his experience of hearing from a farmer at an orange grove in Valencia, FL (pg. 49 of the Eighteen Inch Journey book). Chris then released the students to craft a prayer to the Father about His Goodness.

We have found that these times we’ve set aside for Art and Heart are a beautiful way that the students are finding themselves coming more and more alive.  They are simultaneously discovering their true identity and from that, they are unearthing their identity as artists.  They are choosing to let the Father soften their hearts and are bravely embracing the creativity of the Trinity and in doing so, they are becoming so vibrant and full of life. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jessie Miller Teaches on Words & Poetry

 Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed by JD Gravitt

Here at A Place for the Heart, we believe in the power of words.  We believe that our words hold so much potential and possibility and we have come to learn the value of them.  Jonathan often says that our words create the world we live in. This simply means that what we speak (the way we communicate with others, the perspective that we have and agree with, etc) is powerful and will have an effect on the way we live our lives.  Throughout the course of the Journey, we invite the students into several different moments of choosing to understand the importance of their words. They frequently write declarations over themselves, are given prompts that involve journaling and spend time in sessions about communication.  This week, the students were invited into another way of valuing their words as Jessie Miller taught on the art and importance of poetry.

Jessie shared some of her journey with words with the students and staff and unpacked how exploring the gift of her words has been such an excellent tool for her in seasons past.  Throughout the night, Jessie taught on “Jesus the Poet” and the mystery and beauty preserved in the intentionality of the words of Jesus.  She went on to explain the idea of language as a mirror: that when we approach writing, we are holding a mirror up to our hearts and simply writing down what we find there. Writing and language are an overflow of our hearts; more than something we have to produce, it is simply the beauty that we already find inside of us. Additionally, Jessie explained the value of trusting our words. She taught how, with poetry, we must trust our hearts, our ability to communicate and the heart of the reader to understand what we are trying to convey. Jessie explained that when we craft poetry, the beauty is in the ability of our words to meet people where they are. By creating something more open-ended, we are creating an invitation for people to find themselves more known and understood. We are giving language not only to where we are at, but also giving the gift of language to the reader. So much of this reflects what Jesus did with parables and the way he communicated with people. Always extending an invitation for people to find themselves known and loved.

We encourage you to take time to explore your words with the Father, just as the students are doing. It is our prayer that as our hearts soften before the Lord, our words will reflect Jesus more and more.  It is our aim that our words will empower us, and those around us to be more like Jesus in our creative endeavors and in the practical moments of our lives. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Open Mic Night

 Written by Allie Sampson, Writer for Cageless Birds
Photographs by JD Gravitt

Last Thursday night, we began one of our favorite parts of the 18 Inch Journey: Open Mic Nights. These nights are a chance for the students to share their songs, poetry, art, photographs, dances and any other creative expression that they have found themselves coming alive in. Open Mic Nights are so special to us as a family because these are the moments where we get to celebrate the students, to champion their greatness and to affirm that they are seen and heard. We set aside three of these nights during the school and encourage all of the students to participate at least once. We believe in creating environments for the students to be seen and heard without any comparison– a place for them to share their voice in the safety of family. 

So much of the 18 Inch Journey is discovering that we are not defined by our giftings. Though our gifts are a beautiful part of who we are, they do not make up our identity. We are sons and daughters first, loved before we ever set our hands to anything, believed in before we even attempt prove ourselves worthy. When we come to that place of confidence and security, knowing that the Father loves us and is proud of us regardless of our abilities or success, we can create and explore without the pressure to strive or produce. We are set free as artists when we step into our identity as beloved children. 

There is nothing that excites our community more than seeing people walking in their true identity and embracing their gifts from a place of wholeness. The 18 Inch Journey students blew us away on Thursday night as they shared songs and poems that they had written. After sharing their heart, every student was met with a standing ovation and wild cheering as their fellow students and leaders celebrated their brilliance and their bravery. Standing ovations are not something we have taught these students, it’s simply something they began to initiate as they have learned to love, honor and celebrate their friends. We were joyfully overwhelmed by each of the students, as they shared with us and as they championed each other, walking out of comparison and into wholeness as confident, creative sons and daughters.