Weekend Links

Happy Friday internet friends!

Another work week coming to a close and I thought I would celebrate by sharing some things that have made me smile these past few days:

Dream Again by Starling, think catchy rock riffs blended with a grandeur orchestral sound. Their album comes out next month so keep your eye out for them.

Angel Gowns; are beautiful dresses made out of donated wedding dresses for babies that never make it out of hospital. The NICU Helping Hands organisation in Texas began the practice as a way of showing respect and compassion to grieving families and saying that their babies’ life mattered. It is a beautiful thing to and you can find out more about the organisation here here.

45 Ways to Avoid using the word ‘very’. An excellent tool for stuck writers!

This series of photos showing children fighting monsters from their nightmares!

And finally, I love this illustration of a quote by Amy Poehler reminding us that great people do things before they’re ready!

Have a great weekend folks!

From Cracked Pots to Blossoms

One night, at a prayer meeting, someone told a story about an old woman who walked to a well every day to fetch water. On her shoulders she carried two buckets. One of them was perfect, but the other was cracked and leaked. Each day she plodded to and fro, but it never got any easier. The months went by …. the ground was hard and dry …. then a remarkable thing happened. Along one side of the path beautiful flowers began to grow. People began to look at them in wonder, and they pondered why they only grew on one side of the path, and not the other?

cracked-pots

The answer lay in the cracked pot. Where it had leaked as the old woman walked to and fro, seeds had begun to germinate and grow. So even cracked pots have their uses!

Later that evening someone remarked that they see me as a ‘cracked pot’, leaving a trail of blossom. It made me think ….. are we allowing God to use us, cracks and all, to bring about something beautiful for all to see?

God has blessed me with the gift of creative communication. Creative ideas come in many different forms. Sometimes it’s a thought planted by God as I’m driving or walking. Occasionally something I read leaps out at me and strikes a chord. It can also be something I see or hear that just settles in my brain, and may lie there ready for a re-awakening, much like the seeds.

I find it helps to jot things down as quickly as possible and then just allow them to grow in their own time. If they are not from God they usually fade away and come to nothing. It also helps to have some purpose for the ‘seed’. As I organise a variety of events at my church, I can usually identify pretty quickly where it is leading, but then it needs time to germinate and grow, to be watered, weeded, pruned, and occasionally discarded for something better. If the ‘seed’ is God inspired, it usually changes from a tiny bud to a blossom in a relatively short space of time ….. a blossom bringing life and pleasure to others.

Once I have the foundation and basic outline for a programme or theme for whatever is planned, I like to discuss it with other people involved so we can refine it, add things, examine other possibilities, etc, until we are all satisfied with the finished product. Often success is in the minute details.

One of the ideas God gave me for an Away Day for our church this year was titled ‘BIRD IN A CAGE’. This partly originated from a vision God gave me many years ago. I was going through a tough time and my self-esteem had gone. I was the bird in the cage. The problem was I was too frightened to step out of the cage even though the door was wide open.

I believe there are many people in our world today who are trapped in prisons or ‘cages’, either of their own making, or at the hands of others, and they do not have the courage or ability to take the plunge, step out, and fly!

That was the main theme of our Away Day …… ‘flying free’. We made collage displays and dressed up lots of ornamental bird cages to represent different kinds of captivity:- drugs, alcohol, money, loneliness, fashion, gambling, isolation (particularly with the elderly), greed, homelessness, unemployment, rejection, sex trafficking, and so on. Throughout the day people participated in various activities together including making banners and enjoying a visit of wild birds from a local falconry centre. But the main focus was to draw near to God and allow Him to release us from anything in our past or present that was preventing us from being the person God intended us to be, or from following His purpose for our lives and ‘flying free’. God really moved in power in the afternoon, and it was wonderful to see people breaking the bonds. When the Holy Spirit moves, He sometimes touches spots we are totally unaware of!

Blossoms1

Some people see me as a bit of a ‘crackpot’. Maybe I am, but this is different. I am definitely a ‘cracked pot’. I find it quite astounding that God uses broken or cracked vessels to accomplish His mighty works, rather than perfect people (if such exist!) You only have to study the Bible to see the numerous characters that God used to fulfil His purposes :- murderers, adulterers, cheats, liars, prostitutes, and many more. However, ‘those who are forgiven much, give much in return’. God loves everyone and can use anyone who comes to Him in sincerity. He can turn dead bones into living creatures. He can turn a dry, dusty path into a flower bed.

If you have a creative mind …… give it to God and let Him use you to enable others to have fun and blossom in His love.

Wishing you all the best on your journey.

Maggie

Fun in the Sun

Back in May (2014) we had some lovely sunny days. When you are in the North of England you need to make the best of them while they are around, and we did. Plenty of walks around our local area and a bit of exploring too.

Cathy my wife writes a blog and her next entry would be on a skirt she up-cycled from an old dress which had been damaged. The day was warm and light was right. So we took the opportunity and did a quick photoshoot in the near by field.

Here are the results, hope you like ’em.
Rob

spin

holding flowers

standing

poser

bright sun

picking flowers

Let the broken-hearted rejoice

In God’s hands. When my life is in God’s hands, everything looks very different. I wrote ‘Let the broken hearted rejoice’ when my sister, Liz died.  The words of the poem describe how I felt at the time.

 

It is hard to imagine that God can meet you in such a place of pain, grief, loss and brokenness and speak words of comfort and strength.  But this is just what He did.  Life can look so different when God has his hands on it, moulding, making and transforming it.  In order for this to happen, I have to surrender to Him – I don’t find this easy!  But when I do, it’s SO worth it.  The key factor is to remember how much He loves me then it isn’t as difficult as I thought.

If I give my pain to God He will transform it to make something beautiful.  I cannot do this, but He can.


Let the broken-hearted rejoice

My heart breaks,
There is such pain,
Raw, sore hurt,
But Lord, you are here
To comfort me again.

You touch my very soul
With your tenderness,
Your gentleness;
You bind up my wounds with your love.

When the waves overwhelm me,
I stand,
For you hold me in the palm of your hand.

You reach down into my soul,
You lift me up,
You place my feet on the rock.
You take my pain,
You mould it, and transform it,
Creating something new,
Something beautiful, unbelievable.

Your hands work with such love.
Compassion flows through your fingers,
Deepest love controls your every touch.

You will fulfil your purpose for me.
You glorify your name.
You are so gracious to me,
So patient and kind.

You heal the broken-hearted,
You bind up their wounds
With your unfailing love,
Your faithfulness,
Your mercy
And your grace.

You lift up those who are bowed down.
When I feel all is lost,
You find me again,
You lift me onto your shoulders
And carry me home.

Let the broken-hearted rejoice . . . . .

Sunset-Cover

Midnight Forest Display Stand

I am still fairly new to the world of crafting; I own a glue gun but have yet to use it. I have plenty of ideas and are often inspired but I am rarely equipped or consistent enough to follow the impulse through to the end. I have a lot of half started projects cluttering the corners of our spare bedroom.

But here is a project that I managed to see through from inspiration to completion, and for that alone I am pleased with it!

It started, as many crafts do for me, whilst browsing Pinterest. I was scrolling through the images when I saw this beautiful illustration:

Isn’t it stunning? It is an illustration by Inge Friebel from 1959.

There was so much to love here. The forest imagery, the midnight blue background, silver leaves… it reminded me of Narnia.

I decided that I couldn’t just walk away I wanted to use the illustration as inspiration to make something new.

So I pulled out this plywood box that had been part of a mulled wine gift set. But the mulled wine had long gone and the glasses were safely stored in the cupboard. The box was just sitting there all forgotten and forlorn, just yearning to be revamped!

I gave it a generous three coats of System3 ‘Ultramarine’ acrylic paint. The colour came out exactly as I hoped, not too bright so that it lost the night-time look and not so dark that you couldn’t tell it was blue.

Then I scoured Amazon for two woodland themed stamps. This took some time to find but eventually I managed to find a tree and a rabbit that looked like they would be in scale with one another.

After a bit of research and a few trial runs I decided to paint the stamp with Silver water based enamel paint by Plasti-kote. As you can see I played around with how much of the stamp to use. I did have a silver ink pad but it failed pretty miserably at getting the colour to stick.

Once happy with the technique, I used the stamps to create a winter midnight forest scene in the box. They didn’t some out perfectly but I was happy enough with the results. Once the paint had dried I had a pretty display stand. After a few experiments I decided the best use for it is displaying tiny bottles of perfume!