Working together with Art

Mar 03

Working together with Art

Ammi is from Japan she has a fine arts degree in textiles. She is also a member of MV Logos Hope crew. During the power-up project when the ship was out of action many of the crew members were sent out on teams all over the world. Ammi became part of the Arts link team at Lifehope near Birmingham. Her time at Lifehope is now over and she is returning to the ship this week.Ammi

It was for me a real blessing to have her come to stay with me for three days and paint together.
Her name Ammi means my people but her parents used the Chinese characters which mean Apricot. We talked about her life, her journey with Jesus, her disappointments, joys, thoughts and future. She was feeling a little discouraged about her art, but soon as we began to paint a beautiful piece emerged.
I was amazed to see the confidence with which she applied paint to a board and to hear she had no idea what it would be. We talked about her name and how God had planted a seed in her life and how that seed had grown. She shared her desire to continue to grow and produce fragrant blossom and good fruit for the kingdom and to be able to use her art gift. She began with putting paint on card in different tones, then cutting it into strips and re ordering them. Sticking them down she cut out the apricot, the seed and then thin strips for the tree trunk. Putting it on to the blue impasto background it came to life. God had watered her life by His Spirit and also placed her on the sea to serve Him. To see this young girl smile as her art unfolded was beautiful.
She joined our team devotions and shared her testimony and life through her art work. It was very moving and a blessing to all who heard it. It was a good encouraging experience for her too. She is taking it to the ship with her to share there with her friends.
For me it was another step along a path the Lord is taking me to share the Gospel through visual art. I want to be an encouragement to those who want to use their gift in this way. I am hoping to host an artist weekend here at OMUK in June to explore with others how we can use what God has given us, and to encourage and develop together.

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Journey of a painting – Part 2

Feb 19

Journey of a painting – Part 2

The painting was finished! Off to the OMUK office to share in devotions. I explained my journey and then unveiled the piece. Team members sat and looked at the painting and came up to see it closer. After a few minutes I asked what they saw. These are some of their responses,

Jesus is reaching out from the cross towards people.God is using our hands to do His will.
I was drawn towards the praying hands praying for the lost.
Two sides, dark and light, death and redemption.
Lots of colour and textures showing diversity.
Light breaking through the darkness of the cross below.
Explosion of hope in the light.
There is a guiding hand bringing people to the light and the cross.
The revelation of what Jesus has done on the cross and the life he brings.

One person wrote afterwards the following:
“The painting, to me, showed a world in anguish on the bottom section and with God’s hand at the top guiding people to the cross of Jesus as the answer. I am not sure why, but the pain of the world , suffering, reaching out and praying showed, that above it all, unseen, God is directing all of us to the cross as the answer.”

station picture 2
For me, I had incorporated a Belgian flag using newspaper, textured cobblestones which are very much part of old Brussels, some lace which again Brussels is famous for. The multi-coloured hand was representing all the different people groups found in Belgium, The figures are Mary and John with others representing those who reject Jesus and turn away, however there is a harvest field in Belgium for which we need to pray. Our hands can do the will of God, bringing care, harmony and others to Christ as we disciple them. The sunrise and light is the hope for Belgium through the resurrection and those who come to Jesus will have streams of living water flow out of them.
You may see other things let me know!
On Saturday I held a dinner party for two OM friends and my neighbours. The conversation went eventually over dinner to the painting. It was a good time to share what the painting was trying to convey and how it will be used. My neighbours were able to say what they liked about the painting, but I hope they heard much more.
Sunday the painting went to church where during the worship time people were invited to come to the front to sit before the painting and see what God would say to them through it or to just enjoy it. Afterwards I had people telling me what they felt the painting was saying.
I can only say that for just these three opportunities it has been worth it.
I was praying about how I would get it to Belgium in the next week. I had some prices from shipping companies but they were expensive really. Then one of my guests on Saturday night told me that he would be driving through Brussels on Saturday and he could take it with him. I was so blessed by this. The Lord had even planned beforehand how He would get His painting to Belgium. This is no coincidence this is really God planning.
Journey of a painting part three will follow after the outreach at Easter. Please pray with me that through the painting people will come to know Jesus and become His hands.

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The journey of a painting – part 1

Feb 12

The journey of a painting – part 1

<- THIS IS NOT MY PAINTING

Embarking on a painting 90x60cm for some who are used to this wouldn’t be as daunting as it has been for me. (Yes I know in the real world this isn’t such a big painting.)One year ago I picked up a brush and began. I offered to do a painting for the outreach mentioned on the previous blog post. During the past three months I have been on a journey. In my head I could see what I wanted to paint, the concepts, the passages, the interpretations and even, in my head, I could see the finished piece. This was an exciting project, one that filled me with excitement, I couldn’t wait to begin. So where to start?

I began with a small piece of board and tried out some of the ideas and colours. As hands would form a large part of the work I set to drawing my hand, other people’s hands, reading books about hand anatomy and art, watching you tube videos of accomplished artists doing the same. I became rather good at drawing hands. Ah but then you have to draw them on to the board and paint them.

The first hand I drew and painted was Christ’s hand on the cross. This was daunting, who was I to be doing this I can’t even imagine what it would have been like. In the end I had to bite the brush and go for it. Getting colours right, varied, shaded and blended was a challenge, a big learning curve. I was doing this in acrylics and I must confess I am an oil girl.  The backgrounds the textures, ( newspaper, sand and collage) the fitting in of a Belgian flag it was in my head but this wasn’t so easy as I began to lay down the first layers of paint. Dark oranges gave way in the end to hues of blue and purple. I have been amazed at the development of the piece as now it is not exactly as I imagined it to be. My relationship to Jesus and my faith journey has been a bit like this painting. What I once was, the views I used to have, the attitudes I expressed have changed and as I learn more they will keep changing I hope urging me on to be more Christlike.

There was a point above the Belgian flag that I wasn’t happy with; I was just not sure what to do with it. It wasn’t a large area only a few centimeters high. One Thursday morning I was sat in the prayer meeting at the OMUK office and a music video, At the foot of the cross by Kathryn Scott, was played with beautiful scenes on the screen. As I sat in the moment I realised what was needed for the top of the picture. Returning home I painted, it flowed, it worked and the whole direction of the painting changed.

On a Monday evening I go to my art class. I realised that I paint much better when I am in the class. Yes it is still me painting the same piece as when I am at home, but there is something different about doing it in a class with fellow learners. There are people to ask questions of; ‘is this right?’ or ‘what do you think about that?’ The teacher is on hand to offer suggestions and guide the process. I have a greater confidence in painting when I am with fellow learners and artists. As I reflected on how I paint in the class and how I paint at home I realised that this is the same as the Christian life.

While it is important to be alone with God and read and study and pray, there is a confidence and different feel to doing so with others. Going to church on a Sunday morning is something I look forward to. It is a time to worship corporately and to share the week, ask advice, listen to others share and expound scripture. Only I can paint my picture, only I can walk my faith journey, but it is wonderful to do so with others. I want to give a big thank you to all those who are on a journey with me.

The painting is now finished, I dare say I could continue to work on it tweaking here and there, but it had to be finished today as I will be unveiling it and sharing in our team devotions tomorrow. Then I have to pack it up and ship it to Belgium. I unveil it in my next blog too.

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The work of my hands

Jan 16

The work of my hands

Ever since I can remember I have been creating (some would say havoc! But that is down to interpretation). I remember vividly receiving a red plastic wallet containing 12 coloured pencils one Christmas and loved the feel and smell of them. I also received what seemed to me then, a gigantic mental painting box with more colours and hues than multiple rainbows.

One thing that was a must was a new pencil case at the start of the school year and it seemed one was judged by what pencils you had that you were willing to lend to another. Colouring in pictures in your exercise books was far more exciting than doing the writing. My father was good at sketching and often used to draw the pictures that went with my homework. (I once got 7/10 for my work and dad got 9/10 for his pictures – teachers were not stupid). I never really enjoyed the art class, more I think to do with the teacher than the actual art. At 11 I remember having to redo the colour wheel so many times as the teacher didn’t like what I produced, it sort of put me off. I did get my ‘O’ level art but only a D, however CEE art grade 1. One was drawing still life and the other creative expression using materials and free thought. I wasn’t  good at art but I loved the process the ideas and the materials.

Just over 12 months ago in South Africa I went with my friend Hermien to her art class and fell in love with the smell of the paint, and the studio. I returned to the UK and found my own art class. I loved it; I was hooked.

Let me back track somewhat. I had been with OM for 22 years and been involved in training at various levels on four continents (if you count the OM ship Logos II as a continent of its own). I had specificallybeen praying about my future ministry. Usual questions – Am I doing what I should be? Am I doing it where I should be? Will I be doing this for the next 10 years? What does the Lord want me to do with the next 10 years? That sort of thing. One day after I had been at my art class and produced my first painting I had the sense of God giving me a box. It was a large box all wrapped up. I undid it and found brushes and paints and boards. God said go play! So I have been playing for the past year. I sold two paintings have done three painting for friends, I also have six on my wall at home and one at my mothers.

There is one thing finding something to do that is new and relaxing it is another thing when that ‘thing’ comes from God. If God has given me the permission to play and develop this gift then there has to be a kingdom purpose.  OM has a ministry called Arts link – www.omartslink.org and this coming April over Easter (paarfees) I will be in Belgium for the art link outreach. I am producing a piece of work based on John 19:25-27 and Matthew 12:46-49. This will be included in an exhibition of the stations of the cross. I feel very humbled to be accepted to do this and at the same time excited. My art teacher Penny has also agreed to help me with my concepts and critique the work as it develops.

I want the work of my hands to reflect the message of the Gospel and my prayer is that I will be able to do this to the Glory of God and that it will be finished and in Belgium by 15th February.

The image is a self drawing of my left hand!

 

 

 

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Making memories

Aug 29

Making memories

This past weekend my cousin and her husband (and my mom) came to stay. I hadn’t seen my cousin for several years. We are six weeks apart in age. As children we would see each other a few times a year when my family went four hours north by car to stay with theirs or they came to us. It was a really great weekend of catching up, sharing and feeling the comfort of our childhood connection. We talked often about our childhood adventures and family dynamics.
We both became Christians in our pre-teen years and our friendship was a close one. Over the years she became a social worker, myself a teacher. She and her husband had two children and were also foster parents and adoptive parents. I moved into missions and overseas.
After they left I was thinking about how easy it is to have close connections and mutually experienced events and then through changes in circumstances, family, distance and the ever quickening pace of time lose touch. How could we have been so close and then drift apart?
When we do meet up with old friends I sometimes find that after the initial how are you, and a catch up on things there often comes a time when even I don’t really know what to talk about. We share about the past our memories of school, or holidays or family events. Then what? How do we re connect? What will make the difference?
I have come to the conclusion that memories are great, the good ones that is, but we need to be having continual shared experiences if any kind of relationship is to flourish. Memories have to be made. They are made through mutual experiences.
As I thought about this and the fact that my cousin and had some good experiences together this past weekend I realised that we were making memories. No experiences no memories.
I have been follower of Jesus for a long time now. I have the memories of the experiences I have had over the years. The memory of the time I first asked Jesus to be my saviour, the experiences of answered prayer, of my calling into missions, the way I experienced and have continually experienced His provision for me as I accepted the call. There have been some experiences that I would rather not have had but with hindsight I can see that even they were meant for a purpose.
However I don’t want to live on memories of those experiences. I want to have new experiences of following Jesus. I want to have a fresh experience of His provision, His love, His use of me, His grace; and so on. If I can continue to ‘visit’ with Him, share my life with Him, feed my spirit, soul and mind with His presence then I know I will be making more memories while at the same time strengthening my relationship with Him leading to new experiences.
In re connecting with my cousin I don’t think it will be as long as it has been till we see each other again.

ps. The one thing we never got to do was to take a picture of ourselves – but the lack of visual memory doesn’t diminish the actual experience.

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Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word

Jul 25

Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word

So the Commonwealth games have begun in Scotland. Thought you might be interested in the OM UK’s Headlines article

OM United Kingdom
As thousands of athletes and spectators descend on Glasgow to enjoy the Commonwealth Games, so begins outreaches all across the country.

In partnership with More Than Gold, teams from OM Ireland and OM Lifehope are working with local churches for the next 11 days hosting events and activities, bringing Good News to communities throughout Scotland.

– Pray for outreach participants, that they will have the opportunity to share God’s love.

– Pray for the people of Glasgow – that the city motto ‘Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word’ will ring true as the legacy of the Commonwealth Games.

For daily updates on ministry occurring in Glasgow during the Games (including OM’s partner organisations) visit the More Than Gold website. http://www.morethangold2014.org.uk
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The next decade

Jul 21

The next decade

Recently I received an e-mail from the department of work and pensions. They informed me that on June 1st 2024 I will be eligible for my pension. It was a bit of a surprise to actually be given a date 10 years before. Fortunately in the UK we pay into a state pension fund and I will have a little one from my 11 years teaching. OM in the UK has also used some of my support each month to pay into a private one. However it is only small and in ten years time it may not be worth very much.

I guess I have been thinking a lot since receiving the email about what I would like to see happen in the next ten years with regards my ministry. I want to continue to invest in the lives of God’s people and ensure that I leave a legacy. I want them to be productive for the kingdom and I want to finish well. Ten years may seem a long time to some but others will know how fast time flies. The two things that fire me most is my love of seeing people grow spiritually and in the knowledge of God and also that of introducing people to Jesus for the first time and then discipling them.

Since I am not traveling as much internationally I have been able to begin to make relationships more  locally and through my new found creative outlet have been able to begin to share the reason for the Hope we have.

So some prayer requests:

That I will be able to balance the work I have to do and the desire to get out amongst the people.

That I will be able to use my painting to bring Glory to God and I will have opportunity to share Him with those with whom I paint.

That the Lord will reveal how He wants to use me in the next ten years and that I will be open to any changes He wants to make.

On a physical level I have some muscle problem with my left side for which I am receiving physio but it is a ‘bit of a pain’ to have this problem.

So let us go forward with hope and determination into the next decade.

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