Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Drawing people by Claire Graham

I've realised recently that many of my journaling entries involve people... and that most of these people look like me or members of my family!

I guess it makes sense really, it's MY Bible that I'm personalising by journaling ... and it's a record of my walk with God, but somehow it still came as a surprise!! I've always struggled drawing people in the past and I've never been a huge fan of how I look but God has been working on me with that over the past few years!! 
But I've come across some amazing tutorials, hints and tips that have really helped and shared some of these at the most recent Bible art journaling group I lead. Some of the photos are of their work (and I do have their permission to share them!) 
I shared about the whimsical girl tutorial  http://www.rebekahrjones.com/create-whimsical-girl-shonna-bucaroff-guest/  and how Shonna creates beautiful characters with detailed faces but simplifies some of the tricky bits like hands and feet! Belle (11) and Eloise  (13) drew their own whimsical girls. 

I also shared about the faceless girls ... these are definitely my favourite. There's a great 'Drawing Lesson Flower Girl' tutorial on YouTube by Ashley Magnolia   https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=emfZVXLupsg  

I love the way that these are simplified too... just keeping distinguishing features of hairstyles and glasses, etc without the trickyness of eyes, nose and mouth! Hayley had a go at one of these too.
We spoke a bit about proportions of faces and bodies, that your eyes are half way down your head, your nose 3/4s and your mouth 7/8ths. And Mel and Chloe drew more realistic self portraits using this info.  

While we doodled we chatted about how God loves us as we are which drew us to a few different verses.

And some of the tips about drawing people... practice may not make perfect but it will help! Develop your own style! Keep it light til you get it right and... enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

She Did What She Could - by Deborah Gregg

It's good to pray before I read my Bible, to ask God to speak, and to make sure that I am ready to hear.

Here's a verse and a prayer I found online (can't remember where!) that I journaled into a bookmark for my 'reading' Bible.

When I'm reading my Bible, prayerfully and expecting to hear from God, I'm often find that there are certain words or  phrases I am particularly drawn to by the Holy Spirit, and that's what I love to journal! I especially love to discover something new that I hadn't seen before in a familiar verse or passage.

Here's a journal page that is really meaningful to me, and I'll try to explain why.

In this familiar passage in Mark chapter 14, Jesus was annointed with the jar of expensive perfume, as the woman poured this on his head, amid fierce criticism. I love how Jesus defends her saying, "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Mark 14:6-9 NIV)

I read this passage again back in February, at a time when God was speaking to me about my need to surrender to Him, every single area of my life.

For me this beautiful story shared how this amazing woman did what she could - she surrendered all she had - her most precious possession - to Jesus. And how He loved her, and honoured her! And gifted her with the blessing of a lasting legacy of honour. And as her story is shared today, God continues to speak through her actions and Jesus' words to her - and to us.

To me, the phrase 'She did what she could' really struck me - yes she could have sold the jar and given the money to the poor, and that would have been commendable. (In fact that's what Jesus told to rich young ruler to go and do!) But instead she offered and used what she had, in the way that she felt led to, in order to honour Jesus - even at huge risk of criticism and backlash from others. She was obedient to what she was called to do with the gift she had to offer. Jesus said she did a beautiful thing.

Ephesians 2:10 says: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." We have all been created in order to be given a job to do, that God has assigned to us individually, that no-one else can do quite like us!

I created this page in my journal to try to reflect my own response to God to this passage. It's my first attempt at a self-portrait (!) and though not perfect it came out a bit better than I'd thought it would! I used my Inktense pencils to colour this page, I love the vibrant colours. I did smudge the colours with a damp brush after colouring, as this really lifts the colours, but only a little bit as I quite liked the pencil marks. I then used a Micron pen to outline and to add the wording.

I have deliberately not shared this until now in the main Facebook page, because I was concerned that the full meaning of this passage would not be reflected in these 5 words! I felt that the phrase 'She did what she could' might be mis-interpreted as 'Well, she tried!' or 'She gave it her best shot!' or 'She had a go!' - all of which seem a bit negative with a hint of failure. Completely the opposite of what Jesus actually said, and meant!

Let's respond to Jesus' call to offer our very best - all that we are and all that we have - surrendered to Him. Don't we long to hear His words over us, saying 'She has done a beautiful thing to me...she did what she could.'

So it's been good for me to be able to write a few words here about the context of this verse in the passage, and its application in our lives. Sometimes when doing Bible Art Journaling it can be easy to be drawn towards key 'catchy' phrases or verses we love but may be over-familiar with. Let's remember to read the whole passage - to study God's Word diligently and to try to establish some context. We don't have to be Bible Scholars - the message of the Gospel is for everyone! But let's make sure we prayerfully read around our verses that we are journaling, to gain a greater understanding of God's Word to us. That's how God's Word will speak deeply to us, and meditating on His Word will bring transformation to our lives.

Another example of this is the familiar verse: 'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you'. I love this so much and it has provided encouragement and comfort to me time and again over the years. Yet, in context - this is actually only a tiny snippet in the middle of a whole section of very strong words all about repentance from sins!
'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded! Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." James 4:7-12 (NIV)
Same verse, still with the comfort that God will lift us up and draw near to us - but much more challenging when read in full context! We're not just to draw near to God, but we're to fully repent from all our sins and change our lifestyles too!

That is another example of living a life of surrender. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price. Let's offer our lives fully, completely, utterly surrendered in His Love.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Wilderness by Jane Butcher

What does this word mean to you? The desert and mountains of the Middle East, the rolling plains of America with tumbleweed blowing across the landscape, or the frozen tundra and steppes of Russia, white, cold and unforgiving?

Any or all of these images can represent that feeling of being lost, abandoned, isolated, fearful, sad and hopeless.

As Christians, most or all of us will at some time have a wilderness experience. A time when we lose sight of God, when we lose that precious awareness of His presence. We can fool the world that everything is good by going through the motions, we can even fool ourselves for a period. But…there comes a point in our experience when we can no longer pretend, we are confronted by our personal absence from His presence.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed, guilty, hopeless and exhausted, any, or all of the above, and yet our isolation is an illusion, a deceit. Our way back into the presence is just one tiny step of faith away.

The prodigal son certainly knew what life in the wilderness felt like. As is so often the case, it was only when he hit absolute rock bottom that he found the courage to take that first tiny step of faith. The part of the story which speaks to me, even resonates with me, is the response of his father. He didn't stand at the end of the road, stern, challenging, he didn't stare reprovingly, waiting for his wayward son to crawl back. He ran, wildly and exuberantly to meet his son, flinging his arms around him and weeping tears of utter joy at the return of his son. The Bible tells us that he had been standing watching, waiting for his son for days. WOW!

When we find ourselves in the wilderness and come to that point where we are finally willing to take that first small step of reconciliation our God, our Heavenly Father doesn't stand aloof. He runs to meet us, He weeps tears of joy as He embraces us and celebrates our return.

Wilderness experiences are painful but our rescue is always only one small step away; a simple prayer and a heartfelt desire to take shelter in the arms of our loving Heavenly Father once more.

Our wilderness experiences can be a catalyst, leading to renewed faith, strength, hope, purpose and anticipation. As I shared with our Bible Journaling family, I have had my time in the wilderness over the last few months, finally I've taken that first small, tentative step back into the Son light. I have been so blessed by the encouragement of so many of you and I am already feeling the stirrings of my old excitement spending time in the Word, in prayer and in worship. I'm looking forward to journaling the story of the prodigal son but I won't be focusing on the carousing, wild living, pigs! I’ll be focusing on the Father, Abba/Daddy, running to welcome his son home.