Love and Devotion

This is a page from my ‘A to Z of me’ journal where I’m using each letter of the alphabet to prompt me to think of a different aspect of my faith and life.  It’s been some 6 years since I did the letter ‘C’ so perhaps this is a lifetime pursuit.  There are links to the A, B and C pages, and the inspiration for this journal at the bottom of this post.  If you appreciate beautiful art then please do go and look at Valerie Sjodin’s blog which is the inspiration for this journal.

It’s taken me some time to find the right word to represent my letter ‘D’, but finally I settled on ‘devoted’.  Initially it seemed rather arrogant to claim this for myself, so let’s just say that it’s something I’m working towards!

But what am I devoted to?  Well, there’s my family, and I’d like to think also my friends, and for me, I am also devoted to God. 

Devotion perhaps suggests obsession, but I like to think it is more about what I recognise is most important in my life.  But devotion is also an action, so it’s not just about what I think and feel, but also what I do.

I hope and I strive for devotion to God in my life.  So what does that look like?

Well I think there are two verses which I find helpful here.

Firstly …

“if you love me you will keep my commandments”

John 14:15

And what are those commandments?  Well the other three gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – all report a response from Jesus to the question ‘What is the most important commandment?’ The enquirer is referring to the ten commandments given by God to Moses and recorded in the Old Testament books of Exodus (chapter 20) and Deuteronomy (chapter 5).  But Jesus doesn’t choose one of the ten commandments, instead he captures the spirit behind the commandments and summarises them into two, simple to remember, statements…

” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

These two commandments form the basis of my faith and life.  This is what forms my devotion.  Firstly that I should aim to love God with all my being, and secondly that the outworking of this love should be that I love others equally, with no prejudice and no injustice.

But that is an incredibly difficult task to do, and relying on my own strength I fall short frequently.  But I don’t rely on myself.   The Bible verse on my art journal page is the verse given to me when I was baptised as a believer back in 2001. 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Galations 2:20

It is Christ living in me and through me that enables me to both love God and love my neighbour.

I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom, whose sister Betsie died in a Nazi concentration camp while she, herself, survived.  After the war, Corrie travelled around testifying to how her faith in God had sustained her even amidst the darkness and evil abounding around her. 

She recounts how on one occasion after preaching a sermon on God’s forgiveness, a man came up to her whom she vaguely recognised.  He confessed that he had been a guard at the concentration camp where she and her sister was imprisoned.  He had come to faith, and repented of all he had done, but he was seeking Corrie’s forgiveness. 

Corrie looked at his hand and knew that she alone could not forgive him, so she reached out her own hand and asked Jesus to step in and make it happen.  She was overwhelmed by the feeling of forgiveness that flowed through her so that she was able to take this man’s hand and genuinely forgive him.

THAT is Christ, living in Corrie Ten Boom.

I hope and pray that I never have to endure the suffering that Corrie did, but I am thankful that when Christ lives in me I can do things that otherwise would be impossible.

I say “I am devoted” as an aspirational statement, rather than an achievement.  I pray that each day I may get better at being devoted; that I may grow in my love of God and my love of neighbour, and that in doing so, I make a positive contribution to the lives of others, and to the work of God in this world.

The artwork:

This journal is just a simple plain paper notebook.  I used coloured pencils and a fineliner on this page.  Sometimes I add felt pens for emphasis but I like the softer look of this page so I didn’t use them this time.  The pages are quite thin and the fineliner tends to bleed through so when I’ve finished I stick the page to the next one with pva glue.

You can find my other pages here:

A is for Accepted

B is for Believe

C is for Called

And for the inspiration for this journal, see Valerie Sjodin’s wonderful blog here

Valerie Sjodin’s A to Z of me


Love one another as I have loved you

A meditative doodle and a meditation on Easter Sunday and in anticipation of the UK general election.

Love one another as I have loved you

Love one another…
The other…
That’s every other, not just the ones who are like you.

As I have loved you…
In the way that I have loved you…
Because I have loved you.

Love; that is an action, not a feeling…
One another; especially those whom others do not love…
As I; God incarnate…
Have loved you; you who do not deserve to be loved, any more than they do.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34


Unconditional love

As we are somewhere between the UK Mother’s Day and the US Mother’s Day, I thought it appropriate to think about Mums and to share some cards I made for my Mum.

This was last year’s Mother’s Day card I made …


And here’s this year’s …


And just for good measure here is the birthday card I made for my Mum too …


The cards are all made with watercolour paints, Promarkers and a black sharpie.

I don’t often make my own cards now because I don’t have much time so I only tend to make them for people I know who will really appreciate the work that’s gone into them.

But I know my Mum will. Partly because she makes her own cards and partly because appreciating your kid’s artwork is what Mums are supposed to do – however old you are.

Encouragement and support for your child is the key to good parenting in my book. It doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to their faults, but in the ups and downs of life, a child needs to know that whatever happens, Mum and Dad are on their side. It’s called unconditional love. And I’ve had to practise it thousands of times with my kids already. Although we want them to do well at school, and develop good values and behaviours because we know that’s best for them, they know that even if they don’t do these things, we’ll still love them. Even if it seems like the world hates them, there’s a safe and loving place to come home to.

And I know that’s true about God too. God loves us unconditionally, whatever we’ve done. He is a safe place to come home to. He proved this by sending his Son to show us the way back to him.

Here’s a quick doodle in my journal to illustrate this …


And this beautiful verse from Isaiah says it all …

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.” Isaiah 44:22, New Living Translation.

Life in all its fullness … now.

This is the letter B in my ‘A to Z of me’ art journal, inspired by Valerie Sjodin.


You can see my letter A entry here. I decided to do this journal just with coloured pencils and felt-tip pens so I could do it anywhere.

For all of us what we believe is a deep-seated part of our identity. Some beliefs we hold are helpful to us, others are less so. Our beliefs can help us achieve something, or can hold us back. Limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves and our capabilities prevent us from growing to be all we are meant to be.

My Christian beliefs empower me to be the very best I can be.

Sadly, for some people, religion (as opposed to faith) has scarred them and they wrongly associate faith and belief with the results of that religion experience. Some people use their beliefs to impose limitations on others, contrary to God’s will. I so wish this wasn’t the case, but the church, like the rest of society, is made up of flawed human beings. When I feel angry, annoyed or disappointed at someone or something to do with church, I remind myself that I too am imperfect, and that I’m a Christian because of Christ, not the church.

Probably the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 …

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.”

I love this verse, it captures God’s complete unconditional love for each and every one of us, and I hang on to that promise of eternal life. But for me, my beliefs aren’t just about what happens in the future, they are also about life now.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

My life with Jesus is full.

That’s why I believe … for today, as well as for tomorrow and for eternity.

I am Accepted

Today’s post is from a new journal I started inspired by Valerie Sjodin, an awesome artist and art journaller. She used a moleskine notebook to journal an ‘A to Z of me’. You can see all of her beautiful pages HERE. Please do go and have a look. You will see that I can only aspire to what she achieves.

However I offer my little attempt.
I took the same approach as Valerie in using an ordinary notebook and I’m using just pencil crayons, fine liner and the occasional felt-tip to highlight.

I was prompted to use the word Accepted for my ‘A’ page because of a conversation I had recently where someone clearly struggled with who I was and what I felt God was calling me to.

I reflected on my response and discovered to my delight that I’ve come a long way in being confident in myself and my calling.

I look back on my life and see how much I’ve been hurt by seeking the approval and acceptance of others and not finding it. Now I know its important to get along with others, to find ways of working together with mutual respect, even in disagreement. I wholeheartedly embrace this.

What I’m talking about here is when people do not accept you just because of who you are, regardless of how you do something. Perhaps it’s because of the colour of your skin, the family you were born into, your gender, your nationality, your faith, or any number of things that form our identity, who we are. Prejudices and narrow-mindedness are out there.

But there is good news. In God’s eyes, through Jesus, you and I are already fully accepted. We are God’s children, and God loves us unconditionally. When we live in that love, God calls us to his plans and purposes because of who we are. We don’t need to justify ourselves to others.

So today, rest assured that you are loved by God unconditionally. When you choose to embrace that love, you will know that you are accepted as a child of God, and what others think will pale beside your status and importance in God’s eyes.

See what love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. 1 JOHN 3:1