Beauty In Life · Feeling God's Pleasure · Pleasure of Creating · Spiritual Places · Touching Transcendence · Uncategorized

A Retreat For Christian Creatives, Updated!

Good morning.

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve taken a hiatus to refocus, but mostly, I’m now working on a book that I’m really excited about, a book about how God wants us to create and imagine and feel His pleasure while we’re doing it. (You’ll be hearing more about that later.)

A great place to write!
A great place to write!

I’m also working more on promoting a retreat that I first held last spring, Blue Wind Retreats for Christians in Creative Expression. “Blue” represents our creative work, and “Wind” is the breath of the Holy Spirit who fills our work and glorifies Jesus in it.

I’ve pasted the (old) blog about the retreat below. We enjoyed our first day long event at SansMoco Art Gallery in Greenville, PA. The Lord is leading me to move it to an actual retreat center, a “destination” if you will, where folks can really enjoy the sense of “getting away.” So the next one will be at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, Villa Maria, PA (western Pennsylvania), November 6 – 8, 2015.

If you are interested, or know anyone who might be, here’s a link for the brochure. I appreciate your consideration. But most of all, I covet your prayer for this new venture. I believe there is a real need for Christians to make time to get away from all the noise and get alone with God. He wants us to value our imaginative and creative gifts as much as He does. Blue Wind Retreats will hopefully provide that space and create a community of like minded, creative believers for networking and fellowship.

Thanks for your time.

Beach Glass from an October search
Beach Glass from an October search

Lora Zill

Blue Wind Retreats: A Gathering For Christians In Creative Expression

As a Christian artist/writer, I often don’t give myself time to pursue what feeds and restores my spirit. It’s tough to justify the total focus my latest project demands when other, seemingly more pressing issues, demand my attention.

But when I’m creative, I feel God’s pleasure. Why do I have to justify (even to myself) the time I spend in His presence?

During my last prayer retreat at the Benedictine Monastery, God spoke to me to begin a retreat for Christians who practice creative expression. You can be an artist or crafter, jewelry maker or woodworker, composer or a dancer, in other words, anyone who feels the need to make time to create.

He gave me the name: BlueWind Retreats. “Blue” to represent creative work, and “Wind” for the Holy Spirit who glorifies Jesus and breathes life into our expression.

Scene of my sister's home near Clearfield, PA made from cut and painted glass
Scene of my sister’s home near Clearfield, PA made from cut and painted glass

I will offer workshops on imagination and creativity, including a Scriptural basis for our creative gifts. My friend Ben Beck, a fellow artist passionate about Christians in the arts and director of SansMOCO Art Gallery in Greenville, PA, will help host and teach a workshop. There will be time to work on your art or craft and share if you like.

Our focus will always be, not on the artist within, but on The Artist Within: Jesus, in Whom and through Whom all things are created.

If you are interested, I talk about this more on my website.  Here’s a link for more information and a downloadable brochure. My first retreat is in April 2015.

I covet your prayer for this new venture. I believe God is in it. It’s time for God’s people to have confidence in their creative gifts and in His power to use them.

Art and Knowing · Beauty In Life · Spiritual Places · Uncategorized

Go On ‘Til You Find What You’re Looking For

Those who watch us pursue our passions often don’t understand what they see us do, or why we do it.

This past summer I was on the hunt again for beach glass in an area frequented by boaters and folks playing with their dogs. A couple was sitting on an old picnic table as I approached, head down, scanning the sand.

Beach Glass from an October search
Beach Glass from an October search

The man called out. “What are you lookin’ for?”

I played a little coy. I’ve met other searchers on the beach and we’ve compared our finds. But just then I didn’t want to divulge that location as a rich source of glass. But there was also no reason not to be honest.

I looked up. “Oh, just some pieces of glass, maybe some cool rocks, and I pick up garbage too.” (All true.)

The man chuckled and ribbed me in a friendly way. “From the looks of it you haven’t found much.”

All he could see was me walking with my hands in my pockets. I smiled.

“Yeah, some days are better than others.”

In my pocket my right hand jiggled two dozen pieces of glass from just that day, a “better” one. The man didn’t understand what he was seeing. But I knew what I was looking for.

Could be you are pursuing your passion and loved ones don’t understand what you’re doing or why. They don’t know you’ve found it, or that you’re simply content in the process until you do. All they can see is you don’t seem to be what they consider “successful.”

But still you go on, until you find what you’re looking for.




Beauty In Life · Power Of Symbols · Spiritual Places · Uncategorized

More Sacred Spaces: Beauty For All

The beauty of Sacred Spaces must please God and the people who enjoy them.

St. Hedwig Church on East Third in downtown Erie was built in Tudor Gothic style. Two “crowning interior features” are an 18th c. baroque crucifix hanging over the altar and an icon depicting the “Black Madonna and Child” sacred to Polish Catholics. I was also captivated by the stunning blue ceiling and stained glass windows (pictured).

Ceiling, St. Hedwigs Church
Ceiling, St. Hedwigs Church












Altar area, St. Matthew's Lutheran
Altar area, St. Matthew’s Lutheran

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on West 7th was built in a Romanesque Revival style and considers itself a traditional “neighborhood” church.  I loved the cross hanging over the altar, the focal point of the sanctuary.

I believe a “sacred space” can exist whenever and wherever you meet with God. But the sanctuaries set aside for worship and buildings that house His work and the work of His people deserve special attention. Given tight budgets and differing priorities for precious resources, we may not see new construction like this again. Those that tend these sacred spaces also deserve recognition, from the priests, organists, volunteer “docents,”and cleaning workers to the ladies who provided refreshments for visitors. I also am grateful for the woman at St. Mary’s who shared warm words of comfort with a stranger.

They welcome strangers, perhaps even angels, and so welcome Jesus Himself.

Beauty In Life · Feeling God's Pleasure · Pleasure of Creating

Steve Jobs: Bringing Beauty To Life

Have you ever reflected on why you pay the money to own an iphone?  Or why you shell out bigger bucks to own an ipad rather than a cheaper tablet from someone else? (If you’re an Android user you’ll get a “take away” too from this blog.)

Steve Jobs’ love for simple and elegant design drove his professional vision.  His “big idea” or “mission statement,” if you will, guided his product development. He believed that technology can be and should be intuitive and easy to use and pushed his engineers to develop products that fulfilled those beliefs.

These products (including ipods and ipads) have become so integrated with our lives we can’t imagine living without them.  But they aren’t only functional, they are lovely, sleek, and elegant. Form and function complement each other; one has not been sacrificed for the other.

Todd's iphone
Todd’s iphone

I’m not a shill for Steve Jobs. But I appreciate how he intuited the importance of beauty when we had been conditioned to believe that elegance served function, if it appeared at all. (This is a general statement, I’m sure you can think of exceptions.) But our “conditioning” is changing. More and more products, from potato peelers to plastic shampoo bottles, motorcycles to personal watercraft, are now beautiful and elegant as well as functional.

I think our love of beauty and ease of use arises from God’s creation. Surely God was the first One interested in bringing beauty and elegance into our everyday lives. Our appreciation and desire for it reflects His desires for us.

Not a bad thing, this integration of beauty and art into our daily lives, wouldn’t you say?