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“Our.” Such an inclusive little word. I love the way it expands my view from singular to plural, from individual to collective, from isolated to encompassing. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that’s why we share our “Lessons Learned” with you. To let you know you’re not alone either, and to include you in our journey by giving you a composite view of our lives, our issues, and what we’re learning at the ACTS House. Our lessons learned are yours, too. Our stories are your stories. Our pain is probably your pain, too. And if we can change, so can you!

As different as we are from each other in many ways, the Journal helps us form a composite of our similarities so we can be more sensitive toward each other and more compassionate toward ourselves. The word composite is derived from the Latin for “putting together,” and is defined as something made up of complicated, related, but disparate parts. No kidding, Cicero! Here we are living in a home together, an unrelated group of people gathered together that would not normally be associated with each other. It’s known as an assemblage, and in the art world, the term is used for a sculptural technique of organizing or composing into a unified whole, a group of unrelated and often fragmentary or discarded objects. Ouch! When we realize that our brokenness, rejections, and survival tactics are more similar than we thought, we’re not so sure we like what we see. But like it or not, we are related. We’re in this thing together, and the sooner we actually learn to do life together better, the better life will be.

For some of us in the ACTS House, it’s comforting to recognize our similarities. We feel less alone after so many years of not daring to let anyone really know us for fear of being misunderstood or shamed. For others, it’s absolutely infuriating to see the issues we’ve managed to deny for so long in our own lives being played out right in front of our eyes, and we have little or no patience for what we see. We act like we can’t relate. It’s complicated….

One last art form comes to mind to illustrate this idea of doing life together. The simple collage. Loved by kindergarteners and life coaches alike, the collage is “composed by pasting onto a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, e.g., magazine clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, and fragments of an envelope.” Such an inclusive little art form. We have several around the ACTS House. Some birthed in seasons of overwhelming pain when cut-out words and pictures told stories of unspeakable wrongs. Some used as story boards for dreaming again of a life that magazine spreads help us imagine. Others given as gifts… the most thoughtful kind, I think. Simply beautiful… all of them.

So, if you’re connecting with us for the first time, grab some magazines, scissors, and glue… and have some fun collaging with us! Read back through our previous posts where clippings from our hearts, fragments of our stories, and lessons we are learning are pasted on the page to give you a picture of who we are. We’re an inclusive little community, and we’re delighted to have you join us as we learn to let God make beautiful collages of us all.

Love Julie