I’ve just come back from a fabulous holiday in the Eastern USA going as far north as Portland, Maine, south as far as Washington DC and including 13 States.

It has been lovely, made especially so because of the time we’ve spent together as a family.

It’s also had its emotional places which have caused me to reflect deeply; the Korean and Vietnam war memorials, Arlington cemetery, 9/11 memorials at Ground zero and the Pentagon, and of course the Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center.

I reflected on the meaning of these places – great commitment and great sacrifice and yet at the same time ultimately lives wasted through the greed for power in many different forms.

Two days before we left there was more violence in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, where intolerance and fascism reared its ugly head. White supremacists, every bit as extreme as those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, caused 3 deaths and 19 injured. And the President failed to send a clear message condemning them.

As I look back at all my photos of Downtown Manhattan, I see the Freedom tower standing out, reflecting the light and shining above the sky line.

My hope and prayer is that this beacon might inspire all who see it to work for love and peace, not hate and war. I pray that we would remember these words from scripture …

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.

1Peter 4:8-9


Art makes me happy!

I thought today I’d share another of the pages from my art journal. A totally frivolous and fun page celebrating my rediscovered love of just doing art for the sake of it.

It’s taken me 20 years to rediscover the love I had for drawing, doodling, painting, gluing and sticking. I feel I’ve recaptured the joy I experienced in doing these things as a child. I realised how the values and expectations of others had gradually eroded away the value I placed on doing these things. It’s taken me till now, in my forties, to be able to re-experience the joy, to not care whether others value what I do (though its nice when they do) and to realise that ‘Art makes me happy’.

In church settings I’ve come across people who feel God must be calling them to something (youth or children’s work, making the tea, looking after the crèche) because they find it difficult and God must want them to do it so he can teach them something. Well I don’t believe that’s how God works. Why would he inflict on our precious young people someone who clearly had no interest or gift in that area?

I think God gives us gifts for our benefit, to bring us joy in our lives and then expects us to use them to bring joy to others.

So if you’re not sure what you might be called to, take a look at what brings you joy; what makes you happy; what excites you; what gets you out of bed in the morning. And then think about how you can share that gift with others to bring them joy … and in the process acknowledge and glorify the God who gave you those gifts to share.

‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received, to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’ 1 Peter 4:10

This art journal spread began with strips of blue and green tissue paper glued onto the background. The clouds are dabs of white acrylic and the butterflies are some stickers I had lying around (you never know when something might be useful!)

The flowers I made from some foam stickers I had which I stuck onto foam sheets and then used multicolour ink pads to print onto watercolour paper. The stems were made from some green striped paper I had.

I bought a cheap address printing set a while ago with tiny little characters you have to fit into a stamp with tweezers (I remember having something similar as a child). I fitted letters into it and stamped the word ‘dream’ a number of times around the page. The edge of the pages are done with a dry brush and dark blue acrylic paint and I finished the whole thing off with some black outlines, dots and swirls and hand lettering the ‘Art makes me happy’ phrase.

I hope this post prompts you to think about your gifts, what makes you happy and what you can share with others.