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As I sit here at the end of the year, literally New Years Eve, I am reflecting on such a diverse and interesting year. I am grateful for it all. I have had so many new opportunities to grow as an artist and person, stepping out in faith - often through difficult or painful experiences. However the end result is a closer relationship with myself and God. It seems that the more I search for answers out in the world, the more I realize it all starts with me, and self care. I am the only one I can change, improve on, or fix. This is huge if you know me at all, since I have been a lifelong teacher, caregiver and “fixer” of everyone else. And even through years of getting it “wrong”, I now realize I am still beautifully and wonderfully made by God. This is a journey and I am starting to realize that I am not alone; that inside me is a part of God Himself - the Holy Spirit.

The idea of the Holy Spirit has always been a little confusing to me, and still can be. Growing up no one really ever explained what it all meant and how God works! I was even a Sunday school teacher and a church member my whole life just going through the motions, but never understood that the Holy Spirit is God’s presence in me. This presence is tangible and a bridge between me and a more Christ like heart. Inviting the Holy Spirit into MY heart and daily practices has been life changing —especially with my art. I am still working on this and sometimes forget to ask for help until I am stuck. But the Holy Spirit is always right there ready to join me - it is a wonderfully peaceful experience. It is how I was able to paint these past few months when I completely overloaded my plate (again). It is how I will move into 2022, planning for more self care and connection to God. I am grateful to all of you, for such a wonderful year of connecting and making/sharing art. It seems fitting for my word of the year to be connect - to you, myself, the Holy Spirit and God.

Praying for a beautiful, connected 2022!!

Beth Affolter