Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Write Before His Eyes


When I was 23 I was a singer in a rock band...hard to fathom, I know...but true nonetheless. The leader of said rock band was impressed with my voice...I won the audition after all...but not so much with many other things about me. He scolded me for laziness, was constantly aggravated over my inability to hear harmonies and was in general...a General. But little by little I began to see that he truly wanted better for me than I was settling for. He was the big brother I never had...my very first mentor before I knew what the word meant. For my 23rd birthday he gave me some light reading by the name of "Sophie's Choice" and I walked through (ok trudged through) my first piece of literary writing. There were books to be read other than The Little House series....who knew! One day he pulled me aside...finally, utterly appalled at my bad grammar and said "One of these days you will be interviewed and you will be mortified at how often you 'talk wrong'." Apparently there was a right way to speak. He proceeded, with my permission, to bring to my attention every instance of my law breaking....

And so for years after I had left that band and was walking through the real word (ok trudging through) I remembered all he had said and this crazy girl began to read everything she could get her hands on and fell in love with language...and writing...and lessons learned.

We lost touch with each other for a long time, but I somehow managed to find him and contact him when in 1995 when I sold a novel to HarperCollins...a little book publisher right down the street from where he now worked as an editor in New York City. He laughed out loud he was so happy (and probably stunned). When "what's his name" ran off with "what's her name" he was one of the first to tell me..."it'll be ok..."you are awesome"..."he's an idiot."  In the summer of 2001 I was in NYC and we had a great lunch together catching up on the years and marveling at how I could now speak without double negatives. A few years ago he wrote me and suggested I try out this thing called Facebook, because the old band members were on there and we could share pictures of our lives. I said ok...I'll try it. He was my first Facebook friend.

Last night my precious, intelligent, funny and true friend lost his wife to cancer waaaay before her time. I know his heart is broken...their daughter's heart is broken. I am so glad that I know about his wife's passing...I am so glad that we reconnected so that I could know this. You are in my prayers my dear friend and I will think of you often in the days to come. You know where I am and you know you are loved. And if I could somehow put it into words the ways you have impacted my life....I would.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Letter to Whiteclay.....


This has been one of our most read posts and we are reprinting it with a little updating in both text and images. Please take a moment and read the "letter" God gave me a year ago. It was all Him. I can't take credit for a single word. As Mama T (Mother Theresa) used to say..."I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God sending a love letter to the world."





Whiteclay, Nebraska is a town of approximately 14 residents and 4 liquor stores. The first oneconveniently sits 250 yards from the border of the "dry" Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; a reservation that has been shattered into a million little pieces by the ravages of alcoholism.  If Whiteclay could read...I might send it an e-mail something like this....



To: hey-i-am-not-breaking-any-laws@shame-on-you.com



Dear Whiteclay,


You don't know me...and sometimes I wish I didn't know you. But I have walked your streets, talked to your homeless, slept in your zip code, and prayed in your fields. I know you perhaps better than you know yourself. You're not fooling anyone. You fly the flag of capitalism (and when no one is looking you salute it), defending yourself all the way to the bank. In the way that matters to you, you are successful. In the way that matters to anyone who has seen you at work....you are the equivalent of
twist-off-top atomic bomb. They hand you a few dollars and you hand them destruction as complete as Hiroshima...only no one comes back to rebuild the nation.

The first time I met you, you frightened me, I'll admit it. I locked my car doors, didn't make eye contact and set my GPS to find the corner of "get me the hell out of here" and "what was I thinking?" I was kinda hoping I wouldn't run into you again, but it seemed everywhere I turned on the Pine Ridge Reservation I met people who had visited your house.  What kind of neighbor, knowing the house next door was made of flammable material, would pour gasoline on it...and light a match?  

But here's the deal. My God is here to put you on notice. I believe there are spirits in the invisible realm. I believe some are so petty that a thousand of them could fit in my shoe. I also believe some are huge, having fed themselves on injustice and evil for many generations. They have gorged on unforgiveness and fear and washed it down with hopelessness. When they open their wings they cover an entire valley....or an entire First Nation.  There is a darkness to their shadows that lingers.

But there is a renaissance afoot; a revolution marching to the beat of creativity, original language, pride, and in step with God and His Son and The Holy Spirit.  The Lakota people you have tried your best to destroy are determined to be a mighty Sioux Nation again. They are warriors. God made them that way. They know how to stand and fight and they know how to get on their knees...and fight. You are no match for the seventh generation. You are no match for the Cross....and the God of the Angel Armies. You think you are safely surrounded by the cloak of darkness that will hide you...but in reality you are surrounded by armies of light that can only be put into motion when the people pray. And the people are praying, Whiteclay. From the four directions...they are praying.

We may not be able to foreclose on your physical residence, but we can take the streets back and there is nothing you can do about. We will love you right out of the neighborhood. Feed them, clothe them, visit them....you get the picture. You tried more than once to shut down this pool of love, but we are ripping off the "Keep out" sign and jumping in the deep end. As a matter of fact your dark notoriety will be our diving board. For as surely as the world has been stunned by the sight of the shattered spirits you roll into ditches...it will have no choice but to take notice of the love that pulls them out. Our hands are raised and we are shouting His name...which from what I have come to understand means that you have to go. Shriek, howl, curse....whatever you gotta do. The shadow of the Cross has fallen across your gutters and you have to go.


Pine Ridge will be a City on a Hill...a light to show the way to other nations of First People. And you Whiteclay, the dark room that you are....will have no choice but to give way to the light. For when light enters a room...darkness has to flee. This is your notice. Consider yourself formally served.


All For Him....KC Willis

light-up-the-darkness@ordinaryclaypots.com






Monday, August 5, 2013

All Tied Up And No Place To Go



Reprint from a blog I wrote in 2011...
When I was ten years old I was picked on a lot for some reason. Oh wait...I remember. I was skinny, wore glasses and cried at the drop of a hat. A bully's dream target. On a really cold winter day I was hitting the tether ball with a friend at recess. Actually I should say I was trying to hit the tether ball. Physical coordination and I were not on speaking terms.
 

A couple of tough guys who were in the fifth grade decided they wanted the tether ball and my girlfriend told them they couldn't have it.

Tough Guys:  Get outta here. We're gonna play now.

Best Friend: (in a confident manner foreign to this writer at that age)   Can't have it!

KC: muffled giggle (thrilled with such bravery)

Now keep in mind I wasn't that one who said they couldn't have it. I simply giggled.  But to these boys, who I realized later had insecurities much larger than their bravado, the giggling was the ultimate insult. That and the fact that they knew they couldn't out-spur the wonderful and brave Linda, they instead turned their attention to the kid that cried.  At that exact moment I thought I had been saved from their anger by the ringing of the bell. Linda must have thought so too, because she dashed off into the building. The boys did as well, but not before they grabbed the tether ball rope and tied me to the pole. One of them looked over his shoulder and yelled. "What are you gonna do now?"

Within a two minute span of time I had gone from a giggle to being abandoned, tied to a cold pole while everyone else ran inside. I think they missed seeing me because I was so skinny the pole hid me from view. And so I did what I did best....I cried.  I recall being scared that no one would know I was missing until I was a frozen, blonde lump on the pole.

But HE knew...THEY knew.  God and....my teacher, Mr. Setter. He was my hero. Not just that day, but everyday. He seemed to know I was tender-hearted (as my Dad called it) and he went out of his way to be extra nice. Sometimes girls like me can be invisible to teachers, but he knew I had not come in from recess and he went looking for me. So not only did he untie the ropes that held me to an immovable object, but he held my hand, wiped my tears and majorly kicked some fifth grade butt. Definitely my hero.

I thought about that story today as I looked back over a pretty tough year. And it occurred to me that Mr. Setter (Mr. Go Get Her) and that whole incident was not unlike what happened to me AGAIN these past few months.  The Great Distractor tied me up and turned me every which way but loose. He grabbed a rope that said Health and one that said Prosperity and entangled them with a hundred knots...leaving me to struggle in vain against them. One minute the pole was ice cold and my tongue stuck to it when I complained and the next it was red hot and miserable. And in my ear every morning he would whisper over and over..."What are you gonna do now?"

And I did what I do best....I cried. I cried in my coffee, I cried in my bedroom....but most importantly I cried while giving Him praise.

And HE heard me...the God of my childhood, the Rescuer of my Right Now. He knew I hadn't come home. He knew that I was missing. He knew exactly where I was.  And He arrived with a big fat knife with the word Redemption written on it and he cut those ropes into little bitty pieces and kicked some Great Deceiver butt. I'm not out of the woods, but He is holding my hand and He knows where He is leading me.  And when I think of what He has planned for me in this new year, in this new life....I can't help but giggle.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Walking Pine Ridge with Joe Pulliam


Watercolor Workshops and Historical/Cultural tours with Lakota Artist Joe Pulliam on the Pine Ridge Reservation.


Here's your chance to spend 3 days with the award winning Pine Ridge Artist collected around the world. This amazing class will be a combination of art and history as you walk through Joe's signature techniques and the history and love he has for his People. Create a piece of art under the direction of this gifted watercolor artist and hear the stories of his ancestors and how they inspire his work even today. With relatives that include the great Holy Man, Black Elk and the legendary Crazy Horse, you are sure to leave different from when you came. (A 2-day version without the day of art is also available below.)


We will have a day and a half in the studio with Joe and a day and a half out on the Rez with him, as well as a visit to the famous Fort Robinson about an hour from Pine Ridge. The first day of the workshop will be walking with Joe and your camera on the lands where his ancestors have lived and died. You will visit Wounded Knee, as well as less-traveled spots on the reservation with Joe's commentary and perspective helping you to see through the eyes and the hearts of the Lakota people.

Basic watercolor knowledge preferred. Class limited to 4.

September 23-25, 2013 is the next scheduled workshop...but you and a friend or two can also work with us on choosing dates that work specifically for you.







Pay for your space in full and receive a signed Pulliam print!
$575

What Folks are Saying.....
"Our workshop with Joe was simply incredible. This experience surpassed our expectations a hundred times over. Joe’s warmth and kindness made us feel comfortable from the moment we met him and it just got better throughout the week. His willingness to share Lakota history and current tribal challenges was incredibly enlightening. We were full of questions, and Joe’s sincerity, quick wit and wonderful sense of humor allowed us to talk about anything and everything in an open, heartfelt and illuminating manner. Once we were in the studio and began creating our own works of art, Joe’s immeasurable patience and support as an experienced art teacher made each of us feel as though we could create a masterpiece!

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. You will never forget this experience. Bring a friend … I brought two and we shared a cross-cultural, creative experience that none of us will ever forget."

Accommodations on and off the Rez are affordable. Suggestions will be offered at registration. There are two nice motels on Lakota lands and others within a short drive "off-Rez". Rooms or meals are not included in the price.

Transportation to the Pine Ridge Reservation is up to you. Closest major airport is in Rapid City about 90 minutes away. I always drive to the Rez...but then I dig road trips. Deposit/payment of $390 button is below, but if you pay in full (above) you receive a limited edition, signed Joe Pulliam print. You may use a credit card directly (MC, Visa, AMX and Discover) if Paypal is not your choice. E-me at lightshinelakota@yahoo.com and we can connect.


$390 deposit for watercolor class or $390 to pay in full for 2 day historical and cultural tour with Joe. Make note of your preference.
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

For The Birds

I think birds dance in their underwear.

Last night was one of my many don't-fall-asleep-at-all nights...the kind where you are in and out of bed every 20 minutes for the whooooole night. I have come to know them well and to see the signs early on that it's gonna be one of "those nights." From this manic part of my life (yes I am bi-polar, which if you know me well you may find yourself muttering "well that explains a lot.") often comes my best creative ideas and in the middle of the night is when God will speak to my heart through prayer or reading The Word. I have learned to whisper in the true desperation of an insomniac "speak Lord for your servant is listening," or in less in-control moments when all I want to do is sleep....I have been known to look to the heavens and say "whaaaaaat???"

I had one of those nights last night. I jotted down every thought, blog idea and made a laundry list of all I needed to do next time we were on The Rez in an effort to find why I was up....what I was supposed to not miss in the middle of the dang night. Nothin'. So I did what every good soldier in the war on this terror called insomnia has learned to do. I made a latte' at 3 a.m. Actually, oftentimes that will do the job. Sorta like a hyper kid being given uppers to negate the hyper. I like to explain this phenomenon when it does not work by using the technical phrase "whatever."

But at 4:44 this morning....I stepped out onto my front porch. It was still totally dark, but I sure thought I heard a bird singing....and so I stepped outside. I expected to hear the sound of a lone bird...I had heard this before. But this was different. This sounded like dozens and dozens of birds...birds with a beautiful song, clear and strong...lifting their voices to the crescent moon...performing just for me. Or so I thought. Then a picture came to me so clear that I thought for a moment, in my now-latte-induced insomnia, that I could see him. David. David so full of love for his God and joy in his Spirit that he danced in his ephod before Him and His Angel Armies. Couldn't even wait to get dressed....just danced and sang and wrote love poems and worshiped in his priestly underwear. Perhaps the birds weren't singing to me, but their abandon and confidence in the Creator was something he let me in on for a few minutes.

Birds who had no idea if they would find a worm that day for breakfast, who weren't worried about what they would make their nests out of or if their feathers were prettier than the bird next door. To me they seemed so excited about the sun coming up and a new day dawning....that they couldn't even wait for that actual moment to occur. They didn't wait to get dressed. They danced in their underwear.

So there I stood on my porch in my holey pajamas....(that's holey not holy), closed my eyes, raised my hands and saw David dance in the sounds of the birds. Oh God, let us seek only to please you, to offer you our praise even in the dark, even at odd times...even when everyone around us might look at the tattered and torn nest of our life and say "that is one crazy bird." They can't hear the sound of you singing over me...but I can. And so I dance.





Friday, May 3, 2013

Lifting The Light

This has been one of our most read posts and we are reprinting it with a little updating in both text and images. Please take a moment and read the "letter" God gave me a year ago. It was all Him. I can't take credit for a single word. As Mama T (Mother Theresa) used to say..."I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God sending a love letter to the world."





Whiteclay, Nebraska is a town of approximately 14 residents and 4 liquor stores. The first one conveniently sits 250 yards from the border of the "dry" Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; a reservation that has been shattered into a million little pieces by the ravages of alcoholism.  If Whiteclay could read...I might send it an e-mail something like this....



To: hey-i-am-not-breaking-any-laws@shame-on-you.com



Dear Whiteclay,

You don't know me...and sometimes I wish I didn't know you. But I have walked your streets, talked to your homeless, slept in your zip code, and prayed in your fields. I know you perhaps better than you know yourself. You're not fooling anyone. You fly the flag of capitalism (and when no one is looking you salute it), defending yourself all the way to the bank. In the way that matters to you, you are successful. In the way that matters to anyone who has seen you at work....you are the equivalent of
twist-off-top atomic bomb. They hand you a few dollars and you hand them destruction as complete as Hiroshima...only no one comes back to rebuild the nation.

The first time I met you, you frightened me, I'll admit it. I locked my car doors, didn't make eye contact and set my GPS to find the corner of "get me the hell out of here" and "what was I thinking?" I was kinda hoping I wouldn't run into you again, but it seemed everywhere I turned on the Pine Ridge Reservation I met people who had visited your house.  What kind of neighbor, knowing the house next door was made of flammable material, would pour gasoline on it...and light a match?  

But here's the deal. My God is here to put you on notice. I believe there are spirits in the invisible realm. I believe some are so petty that a thousand of them could fit in my shoe. I also believe some are huge, having fed themselves on injustice and evil for many generations. They have gorged on unforgiveness and fear and washed it down with hopelessness. When they open their wings they cover an entire valley....or an entire First Nation.  There is a darkness to their shadows that lingers.

But there is a renaissance afoot; a revolution marching to the beat of creativity, original language, pride, and in step with God and His Son and The Holy Spirit.  The Lakota people you have tried your best to destroy are determined to be a mighty Sioux Nation again. They are warriors. God made them that way. They know how to stand and fight and they know how to get on their knees...and fight. You are no match for the seventh generation. You are no match for the Cross....and the God of the Angel Armies. You think you are safely surrounded by the cloak of darkness that will hide you...but in reality you are surrounded by armies of light that can only be put into motion when the people pray. And the people are praying, Whiteclay. From the four directions...they are praying.

We may not be able to foreclose on your physical residence, but we can take the streets back and there is nothing you can do about. We will love you right out of the neighborhood. Feed them, clothe them, visit them....you get the picture. You tried more than once to shut down this pool of love, but we are ripping off the "Keep out" sign and jumping in the deep end. As a matter of fact your dark notoriety will be our diving board. For as surely as the world has been stunned by the sight of the shattered spirits you roll into ditches...it will have no choice but to take notice of the love that pulls them out. Our hands are raised and we are shouting His name...which from what I have come to understand means that you have to go. Shriek, howl, curse....whatever you gotta do. The shadow of the Cross has fallen across your gutters and you have to go.


Pine Ridge will be a City on a Hill...a light to show the way to other nations of First People. And you Whiteclay, the dark room that you are....will have no choice but to give way to the light. For when light enters a room...darkness has to flee. This is your notice. Consider yourself formally served.


All For Him....KC Willis

light-up-the-darkness@ordinaryclaypots.com








If you would like information on how you can help us with our work on The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, please e-mail us at lightshinelakota@yahoo.com or visit www.kcwillisministries.ning.com. Pilamaya.

The Art Part

Pine Ridge has some amazing artists. Below are the few pieces that are available now. If you see one you want just go to Paypal and do a Send Money to me at lightshinelakota@yahoo.com. If the piece does not say sold by the price it is still available. Thanks!!





Joe Pulliam original watercolor "Buffalo Tipi" 6x12 $100



Kevin Poor Bear original pastel 18x24 "All My Relations"  $275


Kevin Poor Bear original pastel "Eagle Rising" 18 x24  $240


Donovan White Eyes DreamCatcher....$125


Kevin Poor Bear Acrylic on canvas  16x20  $250


Merle Locke original watercolor 18x24 framed $280

Saturday, March 23, 2013

KC Willis Workshops at The Retreat at Mustang Shadows

In order to spend more time on the Reservation, I stopped traveling around the country and teaching art workshops about a year ago. But now I have found a beautiful place in the Cascade Valley of South Dakota...sitting right on the Cheyenne River where I can hold a few classes a year and still be close to the Rez.

Nestled up against the land that is home to The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, The Retreat at Mustang Shadows is the perfect place for a workshop of art or a rebirth of the spirit...or perhaps both! Each class is limited to 5 and accommodations at this beautiful ranch are included in the price. With such a limited workshop size and the fact that I don't teach very much any more...the workshops will very likely fill fast, so reserve your spot today for a once in a lifetime experience.

Workshops are 2 1/2 days long and include 3 nights at the ranch house and breakfast and lunch. We will most likely go out for dinner in the nearby town of Hot Springs, SD. If you want to stay an extra day or two and visit the Wild Horse Sanctuary and/or spend a day on the Pine Ridge Reservation with me, you may do so for and extra per-night fee.

Mornings will find us out on the deck or back patio having our coffee and watching the deer meander down to the Cheyenne River (which is at the bottom of the hill). Bald eagles nest in the buttes nearby. In the evening we can sit around the fire pit enjoying the silence of the ranch and the millions of stars that are visible on the South Dakota plains.

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Collage in the Country

In a setting that has history written all over it, what better place to create a piece of work that is aged, full of story and beauty. Using photographs of your family's history or choosing one of mine from the history of this area or of the Lakota people, we will create a textured piece of art that will remind you of your time on the ranch forever. A half day of the class will be a writing class where we will create a poem, a letter or a short-short story based on our image and tuck it into the piece. We will also walk the area a bit and collect things from the grounds and create a piece that allows found objects, meant to never be used again, to become a piece of art.

While this obviously the Wild West here, your work does not have to be western in theme.

The point of the workshop is as much about rejuvenating your spirit, your creative life and your future, as it is about making art. Join me. Things just might not ever be quite the same again.

Retreat Dates:

The first day of the retreat begins at 3 pm and goes til 7. Arrive by 2. You can fly into Rapid City, which is only 45 minutes from The Ranch. If the dates below don't work for you or your friends, it is possible to book a workshop retreat just for your group on an agreed upon date. Needs to be a minimum of 3 and price does not change. List the dates you are paying for on your Paypal payment or e-me.

May 17-19, 2013

July 11-13, 2013

September 19-20, 2013

November 1-3, 2013

Workshop and bed/breakfast for 3 nights...$620

Each additional night on the Ranch is $100 (includes breakfast and lunch and transportation to Pine Ridge).

To reserve your spot pay in full using the Paypal button or e-me at lightshinelakota@yahoo.com to use a credit card over the phone. If you know you want to spend an additional day or 2 and go to the Rez with me, you can pay for the additional now or let me know no later than 30 days before the class.



Each additional night at the Ranch....$100

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The Fabric of Faith...Five Smooth Stones.

This is a great opportunity to participate in a multi-layered study of Grace, Faith and beating the giants in your life, while creating a mixed media collage piece. In this 2 day class, held at The Ranch (shown above) KC Willis will walk you through a teaching of David and his life, along with a whole new way to look at the scraps collected by The Twelve on the day Jesus fed the 5000. Together these two teachings will offer you an insight into your past, present and future that may very well change how you see your world and its problems...and remove any walls you may have between you and the power of God.

Step by step the conference will explore techniques in collage and mixed media through the creation of a Teaching Tapestry. A Tapestry that will be built on creative skills and the lessons learned from David's flaws, failures and fearlessness, brought to completion in the teachings and the life of Christ. Under each piece of fabric will be a lesson learned from the scraps we have taken onto our own boat as we make our journey in this world and each will determine the strengths we have in the form of our own 5 smooth stones that we carry inside. The scrolls on the piece will house private thoughts on facing the giants...new ways of conquering that you will discover in the workshop. Learn how to "kill" at fabric collage and slay a few giants in your life in this powerful and fun 2 day workshop held in The Black Hills of South Dakota.

Accommodations at the Ranch are included in the price of the conference. You may schedule to stay an extra day or 2 and go with me to the Pine Ridge Reservation (45 minutes away) and/or visit The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary adjacent to Mustang Shadows. The only charge for the additional days is the price to for room and board at the Ranch. $100 per night.

The Fabric of Faith will be held August 12-13,2013.

$470

Tuesday, January 1, 2013