NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Using Your Gifts and Talents

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to make artwork for a women’s conference. I’ve always enjoyed making little paintings and watercolors, but in more recent years I’ve started to see ways how I can use this hobby for God’s glory.

It all started with my mom’s birthday a few years back. She wanted to celebrate with a lot of people, but she didn’t want a bunch of presents. So she thought we could have a few donation options for people to give to in lieu of presents. Our church had been doing a similar thing with Christmas where you could donate to a charity and get a small ornament to give to a friend or family member and let them know that you gave the gift in their honor. My mom set up the church’s charity as one of her options, so people could get an ornament if they gave to that. (Maybe I should mention my mom’s birthday is in December). Anyway, she had a couple of other charities that she wanted to support and she thought it would be fun to have something to give if you supported one of those. Since all of the girls in my family like art, we decided to make several small paintings. Then if someone gave $50 or more they could have their pick of a little painting.

Here’s a couple of the paintings:

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These were my first attempts at more inspirational artwork. And one lady at the party asked if we had ever heard of or done prophetic art. The idea sounded a little weird to me at the time, but I think I kind of understand it a little better now. We all have different gifts and talents in the body of Christ. And art, just like any gift can be used for God’s glory. He can sometimes speak to people in pictures instead of words and I’ve found that combining the two is especially meaningful to me.

So fast-forward a couple years and my parents got involved in a Healing Ministry that wanted to give artwork to people who came to be prayed for. My mother volunteered and got me in on the reoccurring project. We decided to make watercolors since they are quicker and cheaper to make, especially if you need so many for one month. As I began with these paintings, I started to focus more and more on God’s Word and verses that spoke to me. Sometimes I’d start with a verse and try to paint something to match it, other times I’d start with an image and then find a verse to go with it. But each time I was excited to see how it would turn out and how others were impacted by it.

Here are some of the watercolors I’ve made:

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So when the opportunity came to do some more for a conference, I said yes and got to join with a friend and do it together. It was a little new for both of us to be making art with other people around, but it was also fun and I hope all the women at the conference who ended up with one of the paintings or drawings was blessed by it. In any case, I’m excited that God has given me these talents and opportunities and has more in store for me in the future.

So whatever your talent or gift is, I hope you look for opportunities to bless others with it and glorify God.

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Why Do I Spend Time Alone with God?

Book, Bible, Old, Antique, Holy Scripture, Christianity

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Growing up in a Christian household and in a Bible church, I have learned from a young age to have a “quiet time” with God. As I’ve grown up this time has gone through the phases or being a chore, a learning experience, a comfort, and a joy. It’s also changed as I’ve grown and matured. When I first started having a time by myself with God, I was focused on reading the Bible. That seemed to be the whole point. I was supposed to read God’s word in a quiet place and maybe make some notes about what I had read. It was similar to doing homework that my teachers had assigned.

But I clearly remember one year in high school I decided to read the whole Bible in one year. My Bible came with a handy little reading guide in the back, and I used it to read the whole thing. Well, when January 1st came I had done it, I had finished reading the whole thing. I got out my Bible again and my little sister asked me, “Why are you reading that? I thought you finished it.” And I realized that reading the Bible is a lot more than just reading a book. The point isn’t to read the whole thing and then put it back on the shelf. It helps me get to know God, it shows me what He’s like:His character and feelings. And it shows me what needs to change in my own life.

Well, on top of this reading of God’s Word, I had the clear impression that I was supposed to pray, or talk to God during my “quiet time.” Kind of like God’s Word was what He said to me, and prayer was my response to Him. So most of my time with God involved me reading, then righting down notes, and then writing out a prayer to God.

I found that after that year of reading the whole Bible, that if I ever took a day off from reading, life just seemed more difficult. I didn’t have a good attitude about things, and I didn’t feel right. I also remember a few specific times when I was really upset about something and decided to pull out my Bible to read, and found a sense of comfort and peace.

Thus I learned that a time alone with God wasn’t so much a requirement to being a Christian, but a way for me to handle all that life threw at me. No matter what crazy project I had to finish, or big decision that had to be made, or drama that was going on with a friend, I could tell God about it in my time alone with Him and know that He was listening. He cared, and as His Word promised again and again:  I was not alone, He was in control, and He was going to work everything out for the best.

This past month, I have been learning more about spending time alone with God. Our church has been practicing the discipline of Prayer and Solitude. I might have thought that my past years of learning meant that I wouldn’t get much out of this discipline, but it has been exciting for me to see how much joy and happiness is found in God’s presence. During this month I got to spend 10 days setting aside 30 minutes to just talk (out loud, which is not normal for me) to God about anything and everything. It was amazing how much more at peace I felt and how much closer to God I was after these times. Then early one morning I got to go to a park and just sit in God’s creation, marveling at all He had made and what it showed me about Him. During this time I also read His word without being in a rush or facing distractions. I had no where to be, no responsibilities to be mindful of, and I truly enjoyed just being with God.

In addition, this whole month I’ve been reading a book called “Happiness” by Randy Alcorn. This book has been almost a daily reminder of how much God loves me, how He wants me to enjoy Him and be happy in all that He has made and given me. It was truly a blessing to be reminded constantly that God wants me to be happy and can actually give me that true happiness in Himself. And spending time alone with Him is a big way of how I enter into that happiness.

So anyway, that’s what God has been teaching me recently, and I thought I’d share it. Maybe this can inspire you to spend some more time alone with God and enter into His happiness and joy.

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Beauty and Looking in the Mirror

Image Source: http://www.vcpost.com/articles/68112/20150519/beauty-beast-remake-official-cast-revealed-hp-star-emma-watson.htm

One of my favorite movies when I was younger was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I loved Bell, her enthusiastic reading matched my own, and her kind spirit that looked beyond the outward appearance struck a chord in my own heart. I wanted to be just like her. Plus her yellow ball gown was gorgeous and yellow is my favorite color. So a couple weeks ago, a friend let me borrow a book called Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley that uses the basic plot from Beauty and the Beast as a starting point. I’d never read a book about Beauty and the Beast before, and I found this one very engaging. The characters were much deeper than what can be shown in a short animated film and the descriptions were detailed. I particularly liked how Beauty came by her name.

Image Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41424.Beauty

In the book, her real name is Honour, but as a child she prefers the name Beauty, and so everyone comes to call her by this nickname. But as she ages, the “Beauty” title becomes ironic. She looks nothing like her gorgeous sisters, but everyone is used to calling her Beauty, so she keeps the name. However she develops a strong sense that she is not beautiful and will never be so. She accepts the fact and dresses more commonly, even being mistaken for a boy on occasion. This perception of herself continues when she winds up living with the Beast. There are no mirrors in his mansion, so she never sees herself and continues to believe that she is ugly. She even refuses to wear the most fancy dresses offered to her, because she cannot see herself wearing them, they are too extravagant in her eyes and she is not worthy of them. But after the climax, when the spell is broken, she finally sees herself in a mirror, and realizes how she has changed since she came to live with the Beast. She is taller, and elegant, and Beauty is an appropriate title after all.

As I was thinking about what to post about today, I started to think about the passage in James where he compares looking in a mirror to reading God’s Word and then doing what it says, or acting on what you see. James 1:23-25 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”

It was easy for Beauty to remain ignorant, because there were no mirrors around to tell her differently. And even if people around her, like the Beast, or her family when she visited, told her she had changed, she couldn’t believe them. She had to see it for herself. I think the same can be true for us. We need to read the Bible for ourselves to be able to see ourselves the way God sees us. We can listen to what pastor’s say, or our friends, or our family. But in the end, we also need to look for ourselves. And after looking, as James says, we need to do something about it.

I don’t leave the mirror in the bathroom till I’m satisfied with how I look, I work till what I see in the mirror is what I want to see. I want to do the same with God’s Word. In it, I see where God wants me to be, and I don’t want to just close the Bible and say, “Oh well, I’ll never be like that.” No I want to cry out for God to help me, and then step into living His way. Then one day, like Beauty, I can look in ‘the mirror’ and see all the change that He has worked in my life to make me truly Beautiful.

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