Friday, September 30, 2011


After the little artist completed his book, it was time to tell us the story.

We took 2 videos (photo/1 frame) & wrote down a hard copy as he told his story 3x, pointing page to page.

I've edited the story, combining all three stories (slight variations) into one. It is totally our grandson's wording and story. I resisted making any changes. I am wowed by how his book pages look & story reads in Blurb's SmartBook program.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Working on the little artist's book. All his own - pictures and story.

He created it here last summer. Click to see.

Putting in story next.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Creating again. Painted scraps are on the table.

Started 3"x21" accordion book in the summer with bright grass & sunny sky.

Today adding houses & trees.

I think the houses look happy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Always inspiring for me to look back at earlier work.

The Castle

collage of
painted papers

Monday, September 26, 2011


Time to get back to creating!

Maybe I'll even cut up the paper paint palettes!

It sure is good to be home!

Great Africa trip.
Those 8 posts below.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


On from Abuja, we traveled to Ibadan where I would do the story ropes on Saturday at my friend, Bisi's church. (top photo)

But the flow was not in the meeting as it always is. Why was that? Just a few made story ropes & shared, like the young woman in the bottom photo.

As I had some distance from the event, I realized why. I failed to send the guidelines that I set up for venues in Rwanda that worked wonderfully. I never thought about it being a large group.

So here is a teaching moment:

1. Limit the group to 12-15 women.

2. Seat everyone in a circle or around a table.

3. No taping or videoing of the session.

I learned something else on this trip. When using highly patterned African fabrics, it's good to add in colored ribbons. Also make a story rope of my life using the same materials I am providing for them.

Once again, my experience was a learning experience. There is always something to learn.

The joyful woman in this photo, came up to me after the story rope session,

"This was meant just for me.
You are here because of the Holy Spirit."

Maybe she was right.
Flow or no flow,
I was there for just for her.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


We had come to the end of our time @Movement for African National Initiatives 2011. The dream to pass the story rope on to all the African nations had not happened. It was OK. Not His plan.

It was dinner time, long lines, full tables. Got our food, hunted for a place to sit. 2 guys got up, cleared their dishes, we sat down.

Nelson introduced us to the woman across the table & she introduced herself as Dr. Emily Obwaka, (photo) the Continental Coordinator of the Pan African Christian Women Alliance, an organization passionate about restoring the true dignity and self worth of women who have been victims to gender based violence and abuse. THE opportunity I was hoping for!

"I have something you might be interested in. It's a way for women to tell their stories. I first did it with the genocide survivors in Rwanda. You might be interested, but maybe not."

"Oh but I think I am!" she said. As I rounded the table with my story ropes and cards, Nelson told her it is useful to help in situations of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, spousal abuse and depression. "Now I'm really interested!"

As we talked, she said the healing process has to start with stories & so they've been having the women do drawings of their stories but now they will do story ropes!

She looked at me and said. "This conference has been amazing for networking but something has been missing for me. You are the missing link." And my dream just happened!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

THIS IS MY STORY! Africa no.6

"Jane, tell me about your story rope."

September 8, 2011
Abuja, Nigeria


My friend, Jane, is from Nairobi, Kenya. She sat next to me all week at MANI*. When Jane saw that she could tell the story of her life using strips of fabric, she wanted to make her own story rope.

As she tied on appropriate patterns & colors to tell her story, she told me about her life. I reminded her that God Wastes Nothing. I'm sure she knew this already but something about those words grabbed her heart & she embraced that truth, making it her own.

Though there were dark strips throughout her rope, representing much pain suffered by her family, there were colorful, bright African fabrics & ribbons between the darks. In making the rope she saw the God of hope in those brightly colored areas and realized that he was always there, even in the dark times.

Early in the week Jane told me that she wondered why she was at MANI but then came the story rope. Now she knew why she was there. It was so she could tell her story when she got back home to Nairobi.

She was so excited about her story rope. For the first time she could 'see' God is in her story & He doesn't waste anything.

Coming...a video of Jane talking about her story rope.

*Continuing to report on our September 2011 trip to Abuja, Nigeria, where we attended the Movement for Africa National Initiatives, invited to come alongside of the Africans as they lead their continent in the Great Commission.


It was a good idea. Materials were cut & packaged up to make 70+ story ropes. But it didn't work. Not in a conference venue with full schedule, short breaks, crowded tables, wall to wall sessions, long lines & long days.

One story rope was made at MANI. ONE! Well 2 if you count the woman who sat down at our table at break time and started to make one. I'm not sure she understood what it was all about but she was enjoying the process. (bottom photo)

The one story rope that was made & Jane, who made it...was God's story - the only story I needed to hear. Tomorrow.....

Continuing to report on our September 2011 trip to Abuja, Nigeria, where we attended the Movement for Africa National Initiatives, invited to come alongside of the Africans as they lead their continent in the Great Commission.

CAN YOU COME? Africa no.3

There was no doubt in my mind. The story rope was the thing to pass along @MANI. It had roots in Africa where I first used it in Rwanda with the genocide survivors. Now I was bringing it back to Africa, humbly offering it as a ministry tool to African leaders - for healing, sharing the Good News & discipleship & it adapted to any culture!

This may sound a bit crazy but I actually had the dream of connecting with every African nation, passing along the story rope through conversation, hands-on-experience & 500 colorful cards linking to the new 'Our Stories' teaching blog. Then I would have fulfilled the task of passing it on. My times of traveling to Africa would be over...NOT!

"Can you come to Togo to teach this? Will you be coming to Jos? Please come & I will take you around to all the villages. Will you come to South Africa? Could you teach this in Ghana; Cote d'Ivoire; Kenya." & on and on! This was not the plan! It was about handing it off to them!

The most unusual invitation came from Dinah Ratsimbajaonam of Islands Mission, in Madagascar, the big island off the south-east coast of Africa. What a priviledge & learning exerience to meet him and his friends working in their homeland islands in the Indian Ocean.

"Please come and teach the story ropes." (Dinah)
"What would we use? Wood? Notches on wood?" "We have raffia. We could dye it."
"Oh, with roots." "Come. We have a small helicopter. We could drop right down into the rainforest."
I smiled & shook my head in wonder. (photos of Dinah in the helicopter & in the village.)

Monday, September 19, 2011


"I planted... but God gave the increase." Corinthians 3:6

Before I went to Africa I contacted 9 women, who would be at MANI - Movement of African National Initiatives - 'planting emails' to connect ahead of time. Surely I would meet many more but these 9 would be a good start.

In reading their profiles, I thought these 9 might be interested in using the Story Rope in ministries back in their nations - perhaps even make one with me at the conference. I sure was prepared on that front!

Interestingly enough, I met only 3 of these women and spent very brief time with each, just a quick conversation & handing them the 'OUR STORIES' card with web links to the teaching blog.

So who did I talk to? Mostly very interested male mission & church leaders, who saw the potential of using the story rope back home in their nations, in their work, with their people - for sharing the Good News, in discipleship & in the healing process (photos w/2 bishops & other African leaders.)

It was interesting how differently things worked out than expected..but in the end "God gave the increase." That story will unfold in the next posts.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Nelson and I are home from Africa. It's time to begin telling the stories that come out of 4 highly concentrated days at MANI* 2011 in Abuja, Nigeria with people, mostly Africans, from 58 nations.

I bought my tie-dyed dress in Jos in 2005, the last time I was in Nigeria. All to say I have been to Jos, taught & shared my art quilts in many ministries there & even took a drive into the village area outside of town. At my assigned table at MANI I was seated with 5 Africans. One was from Jos.

As we introduced ourselves around the table, I said I was an artist & briefly told about the story ropes & art quilt experience I did in Rwanda with the genocide survivors & how I also shared art in Jos. The man across from me said he was from Jos & wanted to talk to me at the break time.

"Do you remember the genocide of the village outside of Jos last year? That was my village." I did remember. "600 tribesmen surrounded my village & murdered 500 people." He had been in Abuja that day but some of his family members were slaughtered. Then he asked, "Will you be coming to Jos?" I felt so badly saying no. I knew why he was asking. So the storytelling begins.

Just before & during the time we were in Abuja there were more brutal killings in Jos.
*Movement of African National Initiatives
(photo) With my friends, Bisi & Comfort, after presenting the story rope to their women's group.

Friday, September 2, 2011


To leaders coming to Africa, from the outside, to MANI* 2011 consultation:

How can we create space for the African stories to be heard?

*Movement for African National Initiatives

Tomorrow our journey begins.

"We're coming, Africa, to come alongside in your process, to listen & help you think creatively - outside the box, in order to reach your goals for each country & beyond."

More trip thoughts: Our Stories blog.

Creating story ropes in Rwanda at World Relief Headquarters.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

'OUR STORIES' Came Today !!!

The box of 500 business sized cards arrived this morning from Modern Postcard in California. THANK YOU, GOD! And I love how they came out!

Their timely arrival looked pretty dim a day ago. The UPS website located them stuck in a Chicago warehouse overflowing with boxes, all held up because of a natural disaster. That would be the infamous hurricane, Irene.

Prayers moved the impossible & OUR STORIES cards showed up on our doorstep today!

Shortly they'll be going to MANI 2011 in Africa with me! I'll be handing them to African leaders & global delegates interested in using storying techniques for healing, sharing the Good News & discipleship.

The design coordinates with the current header on OUR STORIES blog. Blog address & story rope uses are on the card's reverse side. Click on photo to enlarge.

Thank you to a special friend for her totally unexpected gift of funding these cards to be made & inspiring me to create them at all ! May God give the increase!