Sow 2016

Happy New Year everyone.  Welcome to 2016 and to a more concerted effort on my part to blog, since last year I pretty much abandoned blogging.

The new year is often a time for setting new goals or resolutions, a good time to refocus our lives on what’s really important, though I tend to do this throughout the year as and when my context changes.  Being in education means we have a refocus in September as well.

But this year I’ve decided to have a focus word for the year.  You can find lots of info on the web about this from both a faith and secular perspective.  I did it a couple of years ago when I chose the word ‘being’ – I used it to help me to focus on the importance of just being rather than doing.  Being with people and being with God, without the need to have a purpose to the being other than just a presence.  I believed it helped me develop tremendously.

This year’s focus word is ‘Sow’.  I am anticipating a change in my role this year which has caused me to reflect on what my calling is and who I am.  I believe I am a ‘Sower’; I think I’m called to help people develop new things or change things that aren’t working for them.  As I go through a process of discernment as to where to go next, my focus word will help me to know whether I’m heading in the right direction.

Here is my page at the beginning of my faith journal…


As you can see I have chosen a verse from Luke 8 which comes from a parable that Jesus shared.  The verse reminds me that when God is present in the place that I choose to sow, then the crop that flourishes there will be amazing.  It is a reminder to me to discover where God is already working in the world and to join in with the heavenly mission to bring healing and reconciliation, light into darkness and love in abundance.

The words on the left are from Galations 6 and are a reminder that whatever we sow we will reap.  So if we sow hate we are likely to reap hate.   When we sow fear and close our borders to those in need, we are likely to increase our fear of the stranger, which in turn has many other negative consequences.  When we decide to solve problems with violence we are likely to reap more violence.   We reap what we sow.

When we sow love, we are likely to see love flourishing.  

Our governments, as well as us all as individuals, would do well to heed these words of wisdom in Galations.

The words among the letters of the word SOW are the things I aspire to sow – faith, hope and community.  All things I believe God wants for the people of this world.

What would your word for 2016 be and what quote might support that word and inspire your focus for this year?
Share in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.

The Arty stuff:

My journal is a Moleskine notebook with printed grid pages.  The pages are quite thin so although I used Crayola twistables coloured pencils, when I outlined in a black fineliner, it showed through on the adjacent pages so I’ve glued them together.  It also makes the pages stronger.

This year I want too try to participate in some other online communities as we faith journal together.  Here are links to some that I’m joining in with.  Go ahead and join us … I look forward to seeing you there.

Documented Faith

Faith Art Friday

Logos365 with His Kingdom Come


The Red Poppy

[mixed media art journal entry]

Today is Armistice Day here in the UK, when we remember those who have lost their lives in military service. We use a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance because after the First World War, poppies grew across the fields of Flanders where previously people had fought and died.

It’s often a day that provokes mixed feelings. I know people who are uncomfortable wearing the red poppy as they see it as promoting and glorifying armed conflict.

I understand this point of view but I am sad that people feel this is the case. The poppy bloomed across the fields after the war was over. To some the visual display of red was a reminder of all the blood that was shed in that terrible conflict. But at the same time as the red might be reminiscent of blood, the fact that poppies grew on these fields is, I believe, a symbol of renewal and restoration. That something beautiful can again grow, where once there was pain, suffering, loss and despair.

Over the last few days, two news stories have stood out for me. The first item; a Marine has been charged with murdering an enemy combatant who had surrendered. The second; through social networking sites, hundreds of people gathered at the funeral of a 99 year old World War II veteran who they never knew, but whose life they felt it was important to honour.

These stories for me stand alongside each other as an illustration of the divided and dividing nature of armed conflict.
We live in a broken world, and there are often no human solutions to our very human problems, and life is messy.

And it was into this broken and human world that Jesus came. He came to bring reconciliation, and peace, and liberation from the brokenness of this World.

And so while I hate armed conflict, war and violence, for me it’s not an option to just let Armistice day go by without marking it.

I wear the red poppy to remember …
To remember, but not to celebrate.
To remember, but not to glorify.
To remember, but not to be triumphant.
To remember, and to acknowledge the loss, the pain and the sacrifice.
To remember, and to be grateful for peace.
To remember, and to keep alive the horrors of war and armed conflict, so that we do not take today’s decisions lightly.

I take comfort in the vision for our future depicted in the book of Revelation …

Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ Revelation 21:1-4

[Digital image produced using Paper 53 for iPad]

Simply praise

I think the content of this one is self-explanatory …


The process however …

I found a beautiful book of fairy tales in my local charity shop. I bought it because I wanted to do an altered book and turn it into a journal (more of that some other time). I needed to remove some pages to make room for things to be stuck in or painted on, and I’ve kept these pages to use for other things.

I was really taken by this image, originally of Cinderella. The illustrator of the book is artist Jane Ray whose work you can see here. I love her style. Please go and have a look at her work as she is truly brilliant. I have a book of the Christmas Story that she illustrated and I particularly like the fact that she has painted middle-Eastern looking people (one of the things that annoys me is a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus!).

Anyhow, back to the journal page. I tore up some text and borders from the book as well as the picture of Cinderella and pasted them on the page. I then gessoed most of it leaving the picture of the girl with the dove. On top of this I used acrylics and permanent promarkers. I thought the image of the girl and dove really lent itself to this quote from Psalm 63. So here it is, just a declaration of praise and thanksgiving.

Oh and this is going to be my contribution to Paint Party Friday so hop on over there and check out some other artist awesomeness – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Doodling prayer

Like many others, I have been moved this week by the news of the bombing in Boston where two people died and 175 were injured. I was also moved by the news that on the same day bombings in Baghdad killed 31 people and left 200 injured.

Yesterday I decided to ‘doodle’ a prayer as my response to this news.
Here is what I did…

(If you scroll down this post, I have shown how the doodle developed.)

The Christian tradition often uses candles as a symbolic representation of a prayer. The imagery is linked to Jesus as the light of the world shining in the darkness, bringing hope into difficult situations. Other traditions use prayer flags and I don’t know what they mean specifically in those traditions but I like the idea of a flag waving in the breeze as a symbol of God’s spirit blowing into the lives of those who are troubled or need comfort.

So I decided to doodle both candles and flags to represent ‘all the Lord’s people’, as the verse from Ephesians says.

Today I woke up to discover there had been an explosion near Waco at a fertiliser factory, and again bombings, and deaths occur daily amongst our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and many other places around the globe.

The colourful nature of this doodle reflects the diversity of humanity. As I drew and decorated my flags and candles, my prayer was, and continues to be, for comfort and consolation for those caught up in these situations and for a global community of peace and love amongst all the Lord’s people. Can you say Amen?


I tend to create backgrounds in my journal when I have time but with no particular idea what I will use them for. Sometimes I use an old teabag dipped in water which works well, but for this one, I soaked the pages with water then dropped blobs of paint around in a random way. On the right hand page I just did random streaks of paint.

I then drew a basic outline of my doodle in pencil. I don’t recommend doing too much rubbing out though as it takes away the background. Even if you’re not completely happy with what you’ve done, just go with it – it’s a doodle and doesn’t have to be a masterpiece.

I then added some more flags to fill the gap at the top, the bible verse I wanted to use, and lightly drew in patterns on the flags. I coloured the flags with felt pens (nothing fancy just basic children’s ones – art doesn’t have to be expensive!). For a contrast I coloured the candles with pencil crayons, picking up the colours of the background and just using random colours on some (be careful not to mix these as you end up with a mucky brown!)

I then outlined everything with a thin fibre tip pen and added some doodle patterns to the candles. I was going to leave it at that but it didn’t look right to me so I picked out some areas of the candles with felt pens but tried to preserve the rainbow nature of the colours below. I also added some little dots around the flames and some pen lines around the flames and flags to give a sense of life and movement.

And here’s the finished piece … a visual prayer.
Hope you feel inspired to have a go yourself – feel free to copy what I did or just do you’re own thing. God hears your prayer either way!