Writing

Writing is the foundational tool of RMSS. There is power in the pen. John 1:1 tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Wow! Words can command. In Proverbs 18:21 we are told: “The tongue has the power of life and death”. Words are also effective tools for coping with grief and tragic events. RMSS uses the practice of writing as an avenue of healing as well as an instrument to speak life into members’ lives.

Writing and journaling is part of the human experience. It has been around a long, long time; some say as early as handwriting itself. Researchers have found journals dating back to the 10th century. Journaling is both cross-cultural and cross-professional. Maritime museums house sea Captains’ logbooks and journals dating back 100’s of years. U.S. presidents often maintain journals to help them process the heavy responsibility of governing a world power.

In social sciences, psychologists often advocate the importance of journaling claiming the following benefits to keeping a daily journal:

1. Clarify thoughts and feelings

2. Self-reflection

3. Improves memory

4. Reduces stress

5. Helps problem-solving by engaging the right side of the brain

6. Improves writing

7. Inspires creativity and allows more effective brainstorming

There is growing evidence that writing helps our physical well-being. The University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher, James Pennebaker, believes that writing about stressful events helps individuals come to terms with them. He advocates writing can be a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on physical health. Other researchers suggest journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

RMSS embraces sound research on writing as well incorporating led by the Spirit writing. Led by the Spirit writing involves teaching members to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit to communicate the heart and mind of God for themselves and sometimes others (see John 14:16 & 26 and Romans 8:14). Writing can take a variety of forms from simple journaling to creative writing to administrative writing and even instructional writing. In the studio/support groups, RMSS focuses on journaling and creative writing. We also combine writing with visual arts and music.

RMSS invites new members to tryout writing as a powerful means to work toward healing. To enroll in a studio/support group, please contact us at 720-316-7491 or info@rmsurvivorsstudio.org. Enrollment forms are under the “Get Involved” tab.   

 

Visual Arts

Practicing visual art is the second tool RMSS uses to assist members in seeing and expressing the heart and mind of God for themselves and sometimes for others. Members do not need to have experience with visual art and may choose to focus more on writing or music. However, RMSS encourages members to try out visual art in the safe environment of the RMSS studio/support groups. Making things with our hands is often very rewarding and validating in that the results are tangible and can be seen.

There is power in creating that originates from the Creator and we are all innately part of it. The very first verse of the bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth”. God is the creator and originator. Goodness and authenticity come from the Lord. Then in Genesis 1:26 we are told God created humans in His own image. If were are created in His image, we too are creators. What are we to create? Why are we to create?

We are to create beauty. In Exodus 31 God is instructing Moses to create a tent for the Ark of the Covenant, and God mentions several artisans whom He has chosen to create “artistic designs” to beautify the tent. God says, “In the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill.” Another good example of God’s desire for beauty is in 1 King 6:4, where Solomon is creating a temple for the Lord. The verse states “artistic frames” were made for the house.

Why? We are to create beauty for the purpose of worship to our creator but also as a means of being closer or being stronger in the presence of God. It is a like minded language that helps us to communicate with one another. Sometimes there are no earthly words that adequately express what the Father wants us to know or what we want to share with the Father. It is like the old saying, “A picture says a thousand words.” Visuals art also prepares our hearts to receive what God wants us to know and express. It can be a powerful tool to push back oppression and focus a person’s attention on seeing things from above and giving us new and fresh perspectives.

Further, researchers conclude engaging in visual art provides many health benefits:

1. Builds confidence by establishing a sense of accomplishment.

2. Builds self-esteem by finishing a work and/or learning a new skill or technique.

3. Improves physical health via sensory stimulation and develops hand-eye coordination as well as helps maintain dexterity.

4. Improves a person’s mood by using parts of the brain that are sometime not accessed, especially during a time of great stress. Visual art helps the artist feel a new sense of control which facilitates relaxation. This is particularly true for people grieving over sudden and unexpected deaths in which life seems totally out of control.

5. Studio art classes assist members to combat isolation in a safe environment.

6. It encourages playfulness and a sense of humor.

7. It can be a tool to help with trauma as the artist may use the projects as a way to deal with their feelings about the homicide(s) in a healthy manner. Often just a few weeks after a homicide, it is common to hear people tell family and friends of victims it is time to get over this and move on. As survivors we know murder take time to process; longer than less sudden and violent criminal deaths. To process all the emotions can be difficult. With Spirit led instruction, the artist has the opportunity to express soulful emotions at his/her own pace on his/her own terms. Visual art may be a catalyst for the members to move forward from tragic events and at the same time honor God with beautiful work.

8. Finished visual art can be very helpful for others in the group who are struggling to express their feelings. Sometimes just looking at a visual piece is a blessing in that the art says what others are trying to articulate. There is a sense of relief that someone else feels similarly.

RMSS invites new members to tryout visual art as a means to create beauty from the tragic ashes. To enroll in a studio/support group, please contact us at 720-316-7491 or info@rmsurvivorsstudio.org. Enrollment forms are under the “Get Involved” tab. 

 

Music

Music is the third tool RMSS uses to assist members in progressing toward healing and as a means of encouragement. Members do not need to have experience with music and may choose to focus more on writing or art. As with writing and visual art, RMSS encourages members to try out music in the safe environment of the RMSS studio/support groups.

Music is a language of the heart. We were created to be instruments of song and worship (see Ephesians 5:19). There is something very special about music that transcends all cultures and time. Music is said to be the universal language of mankind. Historians document music as early as 3000 BC Mesopotamia where they found evidence of a sophisticated musical harp. Music often triumphs where words fail. Playing and singing music is recorded throughout the Old and New Testaments. The longest book of the bible is Psalms – a song book.

Listening to or playing music may transcend a person’s mind to a God honoring state and God responds. A great example of the power of music is in Acts 16 where Paul and Silas were in jail under religious persecution. They begin praying and singing hymns to God when a violent earthquake shook the prison and all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.   

According to modern music therapists, music can:

1. Promote wellness

2. Manage stress

3. Alleviate pain

4. Assist in expressing feelings

5. Enhance memory

6. Improve communication

7. Promote physical rehabilitation

In RMSS studio/support groups, music is used as a form of worship and means to connect to the presence of God. We often incorporate music with writing and visual art. For example, writing lyrics for music or listening to music while journaling. Percussion instruments are available for members to play. Members may bring their own instruments to be used at appropriate times during studio/support groups. Members enjoy experimenting with melodies, rhythms, sounds and lyrics in a fun and supportive environment.

RMSS invites new members to tryout music as a means of processing heart emotions. To enroll in a studio/support group, please contact us at 720-316-7491 or info@rmsurvivorsstudio.org. Enrollment forms are under the “Get Involved” tab.