Saturday, 31 December 2011

all things new

New year, new journal, new challenge!

Having set myself a challenge of 31 prompted days of journalling for January, I realised this morning that I would have to get a move on to even get the first day done. It's Sunday, so I have to work around church services. So I got up, watered the vegetables, had a shower, and got straight to work.

Today's prompt was 'consider the flowers'

So I considered them.

Tomorrow's prompt is 'things that bring joy'.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

When you're in a rut

I've been looking back over the past year, as you tend to do when a new one is about to begin, and found an altered book I made a few months back when I was in a  bit of a rut with art journalling.

I wasn't happy with what I was producing so, having read Alphabetica by Lynne Perrella, I decided to do a book entirely in the style of other artists to help me break out a bit. It was great fun to do and had me using colours and techniques I don't usually go for. Here are some of the pages I ended up with:

They are in the style of (from the top) Lynne Perrella, Linn C. Jacobs, and Sarah Fishburn. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A theology of creativity pt II

In part one of this look at creativity in the Bible it was noted that God has made us in His image. He is creative and therefore so are we. This time we'll look at some specific examples of God speaking creatively to His people.

Sometimes God uses our own imagination to speak to us. I don't mean that we imagine that He is speaking, but that the message is not necessarily blunt, but more symbolic, using the imagination He has given us to engage with us more fully on an individual level. This makes us wrestle with the message and ponder it. Then comes a flash of understanding, a moment of conviction, or a flood of strong emotion. The sudden realisation of what the Lord is saying.

Let's look at Nathan and Joseph.

In 2 Sam 12 Nathan rebukes David over his affair with Bathsheba. Does he go in to see the king and tell him straight out that he is in the wrong? No. Nathan values his life. Instead, he tells a story that instantly gets David on his side. The king is enraged by the story and pronounces the death sentence. Imagine the dawning of truth in David when Nathan declares, 'You are the man.'
I imagine (it isn't stated in the Bible) that when God told Nathan to confront David that the prophet was horrified. But God insists, and inspires Nathan to tell the story. Nathan doesn't tell David, 'This is the word of the Lord,' as usually accompanies a prophetic announcement in the OT. This makes me think that the story is Nathan's imagination in the service of God. The rebuke is given in a slightly obscure form to improve the impact. Had Nathan baldly accused the king, he might have been murdered, too.

Now let's look at Joseph. We all know about Joseph and dreams. He had ones of his own but also interpreted for others such as Pharaoh. Pharaoh knew that his dreams were important and contained a message, but he didn't know the One who had given them. He had no idea where to start in interpreting the dream until his cupbearer remembered Joseph. Joseph asks God and receives the meaning of the dream. Pharaoh recognises the truth of the interpretation even though he doesn't know God. The truth resonates with him. Would he have received that message if it had been given by other means? Personally I think if a prophet of God had turned up with the message he would have received a frosty reception.

So what can we conclude? That God inspires us to be creative in our speaking (Nathan), and He speaks to us in creative ways (Joseph). God will use whatever means necessary to get through to us. He has not given us an imagination for nothing, and I have no problem believing that He will use it to speak to us, and wants us to use it to speak of Him.

Be encouraged to use everything you've been given, especially your imagination, inletting people know of our Great and Glorious God. Be bold in your creativity.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A new year is coming

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Our church fed about 240 people yesterday who all seemed to be having a jolly good time. Our thanks go out to all the volunteers who worked so hard setting up the room, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards.

As a new year is coming I thought I should set myself a creative challenge. For the 31 days of January I shall attempt an artistic journal page a day with prompts. If you would like to join me in this, the first prompt is 'consider the flowers' for January 1st.

In my Bible study journal I shall be looking at the book of Proverbs. This is something my husband likes to do each January (31 days and 31 chapters, so it fits nicely) for his sermons and he encourages the congregation to read it, too. It is fun because you can focus on one verse or a whole section. Lots of material to get your teeth into.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A few recent pages

These are all from an altered book exploring the theme of love. They are, from top to bottom, 'til death us do part', 'many waters cannot quench love', 'How do I love thee, let me count the ways', and 'the garden of love'.

A theology of creativity pt 1

A theology of creativity is simply looking at what the Bible has to say about the subject. So began my fascinating study. I found that the Bible is full of creative acts and creative people. Sometimes the references are obvious and sometimes implied. Not only are lots of craftspeople mentioned, but there is a whole creative way of living going on. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The first thing we are told about God, the fifth word in the Bible, is that He created. Does this not tell us that creativity is important? The first thing that God tells us about Himself is that He is the Creator. We only need to look around us at the trees. Look at the abundance and variety. Not only do they have different leaf shapes, but also different barks, different shapes of growth, different fruits, different seeds with a multitude of dispersal methods. God could have made all trees the same. But He didn't, because He is a God who loves to create.

Not much further into the book of Genesis we are told that we are made in God's image - we are creative, too. We cannot create from nothing with just a word, but we can create with everything around us.

Now I know that some people dispute the fact that they are creative, but the Bible says otherwise. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the word 'creative'. Or bad experiences in art class at school. Whatever the reason, to say that you are creative is incorrect. Can you bake a pie? That's creative. Does your garden look lovely? That's a creative gift. Does your house always look well put together, even when you bought everything secondhand from lots of different sources? A flair.

Are you starting to get the picture? Creativity is not just about producing wonderful works of art, or singing, or playing an instrument. We are all creative in different ways. Have you ever watched a child drawing or painting or making a model? They are absorbed in what they are doing, and they are so pleased with what they have made. They experience joy in making things just because they can. My daughter has whole stories that go with her drawings. They are never just a picture, but more like a still in the movie going on in her head. It is only once children start to receive criticism about what they have done that the joy of creativity starts to wane. The intervention of man spoils the way we look at our creativity. When we can create without worrying about what others think, we can begin to commune with God through it and regain the sheer joy that I believe was the way we were made in the first place, reflecting the joy God took in creating the world.

We have now defined creative gifts very broadly as ring any gift that uses hands, imagination, and/or inventiveness to make something come into being. So are these things mentioned in the Bible? Certainly. Throughout the Bible we see people using creative gifts in practical ways, like boat-builders and carpenters; and in more decorative ways, such as the calligraphers and embroiderers. Often the two things are found together. We still see this today when we find cabinetmakers whose furniture is beautifully decorative, rather than just functional. Why? Because the craftsman enjoys his gift.

This is very general, you may say. What about specifics? Well, Joseph was a carpenter, Paul was a tentmaker, Dorcas made clothing, Lydia dyed cloth, Jesus was a storyteller, David was a songwriter. The list goes on. And on. The Bible is littered with creative people using their God-given gifts in His service.

Yes, creative gifts are mentioned in the Bible. They seem to be important to God and so they should be important to us, too. Not something to downplay, but a gift given by God to use in His service and to aid us in drawing closer to Him. So embrace your creativity as an integral part of who you are and who you were made to be.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Some work in progress

At the moment I am working on an altered book on parables. I've done most of the backgrounds. Here are a couple of the finished pages for the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the Sower.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Quiet, Still, Resting

There are times in our lives where we are eager to get on with what we feel the Lord has asked us to do. Times when we just can't wait to get going. But our timing isn't always in line with God's timing. I have had to learn to wait. To rest in His presence. To realise the value in just being with God rather than doing things for Him. I was pondering this at a time when I was desperate to be doing something but God was asking me to wait. The pondering became a poem. I hope it might touch your heart.

I am eager to be moving
but You ask me to be still.
I want to climb a mountain
You bring me to a hill.
I want to soar like eagles
You say I need to rest.
You want me to regain my strength
I want to fly the nest.
You, O Lord, are wisdom
I am merely dust.
You know the perfect thing for me
I need to grow in trust.
So I will sit here, quietly,
and drink of You my fill.
Cause me to grow peaceful
as I wait upon Your will.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

How's your quiet time?

For years I found it difficult to have a regular quiet time for Bible study and prayer. I felt like a failure; like I wasn't fully committed to my faith. Then I listened to a CD which suggested something really simple. So simple that I wondered why I hadn't thought of it. Link your quiet time to something you enjoy.

Think about it for a moment.

What do you do most days that you can link your quiet time to? It might be something as simple as reading your Bible when you have your morning coffee.

This simple idea made me wonder why, when I did actually have a quiet time, I wrote straight across the page in black biro. I am an artist, for goodness' sake! Where was the colour? Where were the pictures?

And so started my venture into art journalling. As I became more adventurous so my pages developed. Now I have several journals on the go - my Bible study journal that I use virtually every day to record insights from my Bible study and prayers inspired by this; a travel version of this which has decorated pages so I can just add a simple, pithy insight; a journal to keep a record of what the Lord has said to me either directly, or through others; and countless altered books that are in various stages where I can work freely and see what comes to the surface.

I am now at the stage where, if I don't go into my art room and spend some quiet time with God, I feel something is missing from my day. I can't wait to get in there in the morning and stamp, paint, stick, and write. I hope that you, too, may find a creative way to engage with God and go deeper with Him.