Saturday, February 23, 2013

Letters of Love, a book review

Book Review

I’ve had the privilege of following Joi on her writing journey as she penned the book Letters ofLove.

Sophia wants to reach out to her husband, who is away in the service. But, she’s afraid. She turns to her grandparents for comfort and guidance. Sophia’s grandmother, Lucia, gives her granddaughter the letters that her husband, Tozier, wrote to her as he served his country during WWII. She prays that the letters will reveal hope to Sophia as she suffers through a rough time in her life. The truth that Sophia learns helps her find peace.

Joi included the actual letters that her grandfather wrote so many years ago. The beauty in the writing and the story of the times adds a sentimental yet eye opening element to the story. I enjoyed his words and the glimpse into his heart. The author wove the two stories together and created a lovely tale of hope.

I asked Joi to tell me a bit more about her inspiration for Letters of Love.
She said:

Joi Copeland's Book PageI wrote this story for my grandparents. My nana asked me years ago what I wanted from her house when she passes away. One thing caught my attention: her trunk from China. Unfortunately, my cousin claimed it first. I told my grandmother whatever she wanted to leave me was fine. I had memories my cousin didn't.

One day, Nana was going through things and found the letters Papa wrote her while stationed in India and China during WWII. She called me and asked if I wanted them. Without hesitation, I answered with an affirmative!

That's how this story started. While most of it is purely fiction, the letters themselves are not. It was a joy and pleasure to write about my grandparents.

About the Author:

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom! She enjoys spending time with her sister Steffanne, and loves to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends! She's been a Christian for over twenty years. Following Jesus has been the best decision she has ever made. Joi's books include Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, Christmas Rayne, and Sheriff Bride Rob's Story, and Lettersof Love.

You can find me on the web:

Inherit the Kingdom of Light

Colossians 1:9-12
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

My friend, Joi, published a fictional account of her grandparents lives intertwined with the story of a young couple facing the struggles of life. In the story, she included the actual letters her grandpa wrote to his young wife during WW II. She explained to me that those precious letters are her inheritance from them. By reading and archiving the letters, she received a blessing that is priceless.

Often when I hear about an inheritance, the circumstances involve money or property. Things that are valuable on earth. But, as a follower of Christ, I have a greater prize waiting for me. The apostle Paul prayed for the church in Colossia and encouraged them to understand why God sent Jesus. He wanted them to know that he lived, died and rose from the grave, so that they could be part of his kingdom. I share this prayer of Paul and ask “God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…”

What do you think of when you hear the word inheritance?

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Thousand Mornings

I believe that each person experiences God in different ways. I’m most connected to God when I’m walking the dogs by the lake or working in my flower bed. Experiencing nature draws me closer to my Lord. I love the beauty he’s created for our world. A colorful sunset and soft fallen snow bring joy to my heart. And the animals, they are so incredible. Whether a giraffe at the zoo, a squirrel in the park, or cute baby goats, I love seeing God’s handiwork. I also relate to God through poetry. I write poems from time to time and I read poetry, particularly poems that feature the natural world and everyday circumstances of life.

My most recent poetic read is A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary Oliver.  In A Thousand Mornings, Mary surrounds herself with nature and the unexpected pleasure of the everyday. In the morning, she grabs her notebook and pencil and delves into the world with her poetic eye and mind. From lamenting the short life of the Luna moth to remembering the delight and sometimes bruises from tree-climbing, Mary captures an almost magical insight into the world that surrounds her. This slim volume of poetry both delights and intrigues.

A native of Ohio, Mary Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer for poetry in 1984. She’s spent many years writing and teaching poetry. Much of her inspiration comes from her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 

I also enjoy Robert Frost and Ted Kooser. Both poets write about the every day and the natural world.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I read a quote recently about love. "Follow your heart, but take your brain with you." Sounds like good advice for Valentine's Day. Have a happy day and share the love of Jesus.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

That Sweet Old Valentine

I love old valentines. Whether cheeky art work or elaborate lace, the sweet sentiments warm my heart. My mom and I came across some valentines, circa 1910s-20s, that belonged to my grammy. Two of them were addressed to my great-grandmother from her sons and one is signed by Grammy as a child. 

Made especially popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, during the Golden Age of Postcards, Valentines have circulated around the United States since 1847. When Esther Howland, from Worchester, Massachusetts, made paper lace cards to sell in her father’s shop, the patrons embraced the holiday of love. The sentiments caught on and became a staple of American culture. First as penny postcards and now as a booming business for card sellers, artists still draw hearts and cupids to celebrate that special someone.

Have you received a valentine or sent one that you’d like to share?
Do you collect old valentines?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Visionaries + Voices: Art From the Soul

Imagine discovering a treasure chest of artwork that connects you to the soul of the artist. My husband told me about Visionaries + Voices in Cincinnati that provides a professional studio environment for artists with disabilities. The idea of a grassroots program that features work by self-taught artists led us to visit one of the workshops. We admired Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals, and paintings. Then a drawing caught my eye. The impressionistic cabin and evergreen now hangs in my kitchen.

Visionaries + Voices started “specifically for artists with disabilities.” Artists given the chance to grow on a personal and professional level have the opportunity to learn new techniques and sell their work. Samantha Charek, Outreach Director, for Visionaries Voices answered a few questions for me.

Tell me about the mission of Visionaries + Voices and how many people the program serves.

Founded in 2003, the mission of Visionaries + Voices is to provide artistic, cultural, and professional opportunities for artists with disabilities. We create a world in which artists with disabilities not only produce and share works of art, but also are given continuous opportunities to learn, develop professionally, collaborate, exhibit, and celebrate with community members.Visionaries + Voices currently supports approximately 150 artists.

Can you explain what the term outsider art refers to?

Outsider art is a term that refers to art created "outside" the established art world.

Is the group local or are there any national groups?

V+V is a local 501c3 organization. There are a few organizations around the country that have similar missions, but there's only one V+V. Our founders, Bill Ross and Keith Banner, started out just making art with a couple of artists in their basement and things grew from there. V+V later expanded into a studio space at the Essex and today we have two locations in Cincinnati. One is in Northside on Spring Grove Avenue and the other is in the Tricounty area on Northland Blvd.

Where is the artwork sold? Can any be purchased online?

V+V artists exhibit their work constantly. We curate one show per quarter in our gallery at the Northside studio location (the next one, "Up, up, up, and up" is opening on February 21st 5-8pm). Artwork is always available for sale at every opening and we also welcome people to drop in during studio hours (M-TH 8am-8pm and F 8-4) to meet artists and check out the work. Our artists also participate in countless other exhibits in galleries and public spaces (like coffee shops and salons) throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Our website is currently being redesigned. We do have an online store, but it is primarily used for merchandise (T-shirts, posters, etc.) WIth150 artists making work all year round, inventory is a massive job. We've found that shopping for original works of art online is not something that most people are looking for. They need to experience it first hand to decide. We do accept donations online and people can sign up for our "Collectors Club" membership online as well.

Does the artist receive payment when their work sells?

Yes. When V+V artists sell their work at a V+V sponsored exhibit, the artist receives 70% of the final sale and V+V keeps 30%. Outside galleries usually charge a larger commission, but we ensure that our artists never make less than 50% even if that means we (V+V) don't keep anything.

V+V artists who teach lessons for the Education Program also receive a stipend for their work.

Does the organization use volunteers? If so, how does that work?

We love our volunteers at V+V! If you are interested in volunteering as an individual or as a group just contact our volunteer coordinator, Jennifer Franks,

How long have you worked for V+V? Can you tell me a highlight for you from working with the program?

I have worked for V+V since June of 2008. Every opening is a highlight for me. That might sound too cliché to be true, but the environment at V+V exhibition openings is unlike any other I have ever experienced. There is so much diversity and appreciation and respect for that diversity at each event. That includes people and artwork.

Thank you, Samantha. To learn more about Visionaries + Voices go to: 

Do you have any interesting art programs in your area?