Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #214 — God’s Creative Gift

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National Book MonthAs we wrap up end our tribute to National Book Month, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce my own book. “Last but not least” as the saying goes!

I wrote God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You in obedience to God’s calling in my life. Frankly, many of the topics I wrote about were thoughts and ideas that wouldn’t leave me alone until I had gently guided them onto paper. It is designed as a Bible study and devotional, great for individual or group study. It is not just for artists but creative folks of all forms, mediums and venues.

The Word of God is vital to our lives. It has much to say to all of us, and more than that, it has much to say to artists and creatives! Discover what God’s Word has to say to you as his masterpiece, his poem, his BEaUtiful creation! If you click here, it will lead you to my store where you can purchase a copy of my book signed with a personal blessing just for you! You can read more about my book here.

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #169 — Walk Thru the Lord’s Prayer

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file000126098408On Steal Our Stuff blog you can find some great resources. I want to refer you to a specific post for an interactive prayer walk called A Walk Through the Lord’s Prayer. It was created for a youth confirmation program, and is now available as a free download for your use. A wonderful resource for your church, ministry or prayer event. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #166 — The Bible on Creativity & the Arts

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What does the Bible have to say about creativity and the arts? Although this list may not be exhaustive, it definitely reflects God’s heart toward creation, creativity, artistry, artisans and craftsmen. Please use and share this as a resource for those in creative and prophetic ministry!

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Create-A-Day, your daily dose of creativity #160 — Nature Inspired Art

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Photo by Maddy Thomae

Photo by Maddy Thomae

This is an amazing video from Rachelle Chinnery about how nature informs her artistic process.

It’s 4 1/2 minutes and definitely worth the watch!!

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #155 — Women Who Dare to Believe

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“Women Who Dare to Believe” is a musical by veteran actresses and singers Bonnie King and Nan Gurley. Utilizing a 20-foot piece of scarlet fabric, they tell the story of 21 women of the Bible—women who are all part of God’s story of salvation and hope—bringing them to life through story, song and drama. They also have a CD and a two-part Bible study that accompany the musical. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #153 — Vonda Drees Art Journaling

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Beloved  (c) 2015 Vonda Drees

Beloved
(c) 2015 Vonda Drees

We’ve looked at art journaling several times this year (you can check out last week’s post with links to the other posts by clicking here). Today I want to direct you to the blog of Vonda Drees: Journaling the Spirit’s Stirring. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #149 — Visual Prayer With God

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Visual Blessings is a wonderful blog all about art journaling and Bible Journaling. The blog author is artist and workshop presenter Valerie Sjodin, whose personal motto is to “Love God, Serve Others; Make It Beautiful.”

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #129 — Free Indeed!

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Koren War Vet Mem

The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC makes this powerful statement:

Freedom is not free.

Take a moment, look at these images, and consider the cost.

Count the Cost

What did your freedom cost the young man above?

Natnl Cem

What did your freedom cost the men, the women, the families represented by the more than 285,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?

From the American Revolution to the current situation in the Middle East, have you considered the cost paid for your freedom?

Don’t ever forget!

And don’t forget the cost paid by Jesus Christ as he took your sin to the cross and was buried in the tomb. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #125 — Healing Through Art

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“As long as you find yourself drawn closer to the Lord through the art you produce, you are doing what you are called to do.” ~ Trisha Stern (c) Trisha Stern

“As long as you find yourself drawn closer to the Lord through the art you produce, you are doing what you are called to do.”
~ Trisha Stern
(c) Trisha Stern

The topic of my next book is the artist on the healing journey and the artist as healer, so I was intrigued when I found a Christian Artist Feature on Trisha Stern on The Artistic Christian blog. After experiencing severe wounding trauma in her life, art became the way out of the depths of her grief and pain.

In the words of Trisha, “Art changed my life.” She has much more to say about the power of art!! I encourage you to read the whole feature here. It will inspire you!

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #87 — Redemptive Art

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As a Christian artist or creative, it is important to consider the redemptive value of your work. When viewed from a worldly perspective, we think of art in terms of monetary value—have we sold original pieces, prints, copies, songs, albums, scripts, . . . ? And we limit the value of our work to units sold. However, when we open ourselves as creatives to a heavenly view of value, we come to realize a whole new commodity. Are we changing lives, healing hearts, revealing beauty, seeking justice, claiming hearts for Our Creator? We begin to realize that there is a greater redemptive value to our work.

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #45 — Drama of the Cross

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Easter Devotional and Creative Prompt (i.e., Challenge)

We are two weeks into Lent; Easter is only a month away. It’s important to journey through this season intentionally with your heart open to what the Holy Spirit has for you creatively. So take a deep breath, saying a prayer of openness, and move ahead letting Him move you as you read…

Easter Devotional

As you read the passage below, imagine the scene as part of a larger drama unfolding. Think of the setting (Ancient Israel; very early in the morning at sunrise; Springtime, chill still in the air), the plot (Mary finds tomb empty; brings Peter and John to investigate; they find it as she reported; the body of Jesus is missing), the characters (Mary Magdalene, angels, Jesus) and the dialogue (try to hear it as you read). Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #24 — Prayer Journals

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by Louis crartist FlickrNot only do I love how creatively this blog is designed, but the author Eren McKay gives lots of great ideas and practical resources for your journaling journey, as she discusses how to keep a prayer journal. She offers free printables and discusses why journaling is important for your life as a Christian and your study of God’s Word! Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #12 — You are Chosen

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As an artist or creative, have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? Like others just don’t “get you” or your ideas? Have you ever felt peculiar? Then you need to listen to this podcast devotional on 1st Peter 2:9 entitled “You Were Chosen for this Work” from Tamika Hall Ministries:

You Were Chosen for this Work

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Christ Jesus: A Work of Art!

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Moved by the Spirit, Simeon went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God… 
Coming up at that very moment, Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. ~ Luke 2

We often hear about the shepherds and the wise men that came to worship Jesus following his birth. Yet there are two other characters who show up after the birth of Christ that we might not hear as much about. (Read Luke 2:22-40) Continue reading

And She Lived Her Life a Desolate Woman

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IMG_1000000083This Old Testament Bible Study is an excerpt from my recent book The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to BeautifulIt is about Tamar, the daughter of King David who was raped by her brother Amnon and then lived the rest of her life “a desolate woman.” The story is quite tragic but it helps us wrestle with some very tough questions. Ultimately we must relinquish control and give God our deepest hurts and pains.
May God heal the deep places within all of us.

And She Lived her Life a Desolate Woman: a Meditation on II Samuel 13

Amnon took hold of Tamar and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud [zaaq – a distress signal or cry for help] as she went.
And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate [samem – stunned, denotes something so horrible that it can leave a person speechless] woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, since he was his firstborn. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar. ~ 2 Samuel 13:11-38, ESV

Like a large pill, this passage is hard to swallow. If I’m honest, it tears at my heart. I don’t like it at all. However…  let’s see what God might be teaching us through His Word.

Allow me to set the stage for this terrible tragedy. Amnon and Tamar were half-siblings. Amnon was the firstborn son of King David by his wife Ahinoam. Tamar was also a daughter of King David by his wife Maacah, a princess from the neighboring kingdom Geshur. Therefore, Tamar was not only a princess through her father but also through her mother, who would have been one of the highest ranking woman among David’s wives. Tamar was royal through and through. The Bible also indicates she was both very beautiful and a virgin. As the custom of the day dictated, she was likely promised in marriage to a prince in a neighboring country. As far as women go in that era, she was at the top—the only thing that would have gained her more rank was to be the mother of a son. The future looked bright. Tamar was beautiful, pure and desired, elevated in a society that did not hold many women in very high regard.

And then selfish, evil Amnon destroys her! Filled with lust, he takes what he wants and then literally throws her out of his room with utter disdain! Notice her actions—she rips her clothing and covers herself with ashes—both indications that she is grieving a death. And the hand to her head indicates that she bears an unbearable burden. News of Amnon’s actions and Tamar’s ruin would’ve traveled very quickly through the palace.

And then, not only does Amnon fail her, so does her father David. Amnon should’ve been punished, but his father lets him get away with what is essentially murder in that culture. David also could’ve forced Amnon to marry Tamar, which may have gone against God’s law, but was not out of the question in that culture. By requiring Amnon to marry her, it would’ve secured her place in the king’s harem, even if he never had relations with her again. But David fails to act on her behalf.

Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve.

So her brother Absalom tries his best to make things right. In vengeance, he takes the life of Amnon and tries to take over David’s throne. But as I said, he tries. Eventually his “trying” will cost him his life. I am amazed at the dysfunction of King David’s family. David, the man after God’s own heart, how far from God’s heart your family has traveled.

And amidst all the violence, deception, injustice and death is Tamar. Scripture tells us she lived out her life a desolate woman in the house of her brother Absalom. Once elevated to the highest place in society, she has fallen almost as low as possible for a woman in her culture. Only leprosy would’ve made her situation worse.

I’ve often pondered those words
—“a desolate woman”—
wondering
what that meant for her….
…for us.

My heart breaks for her. I long to know what really happened to our beautiful Tamar. I have often looked at the words of her brother Absalom, “Be quiet now, my sister. Don’t take this thing to heart,” and begin to wonder if this speaks to the real cause of her desolation.

Her injustice is never recognized.
Her pain is never given a voice.

No expression: only repression.

Read the passage above again, paying close attention to the words in italics.

Amnon refused to listen to her pleas.
He refused to listen to her!
Her distress signal, her cry for help, went unanswered.
Her burden so heavy, her violation so deep, it left her stunned, without words.

Then, her brother Absalom, who actually cared for her tells her to be quiet. I know he was trying to say the right thing, but it fell so extremely short of what she needed at that moment. In my head, my heart, my soul, I hear all the words Tamar left unspoken:

Be quiet?!?!?!
All that I am and have ever lived for
has been stolen from me!
By my own  brother!
He violated me in the worse possible way!
I will never have a husband who cares for me!
I will never have children to love and be loved by in return!
Don’t take this thing to heart?!?!?!
My heart has been ripped from my very chest
with no one to bind my wounds!
There is no hope for me! Ever!
I was a princess!
Now….
I am
nothing!

While the men around Tamar paid her voice no heed, her words still echo eerily through this passage that is so hard to swallow. When I question why this story is included in our scriptures, I realize it’s because God wants us to hear Tamar’s voice.

We hear you, Tamar! We hear the depth of your pain calling out from the pages of this ancient story, crying out for justice against the violation you have endured. Keep screaming! Keep weeping aloud! We hear your distressed voice crying out for help, for justice, for the wrong to be made right. We know there is no way not to take this to heart—it grows ugly, twisted roots into the very soil of your soul! Even though you are stunned into silence, we hear all the words you cannot say. All the words frozen in your throat, frozen in your heart, frozen in your soul.

I think God not only wants us to hear her voice, but also to learn from Tamar’s voice. In her book Coping with Depression, Myra Chave-Jones describes depression as “frozen rage.” And David Seamunds, author of Healing for Damaged Emotion, agrees: “If you have a consistently serious problem with depression, you have not resolved some area of anger in your life. As surely as the night follows day, depression follows unresolved, repressed, or improperly expressed anger.” In addition to anger, I would also add grief, pain and fear.

When you have no voice, it claws at your God-given need for significance, belonging, and the need to feel both safe and loved. Ultimately only God can fulfill these God-given needs. Yet he has also placed people around us with gifts of compassion, grace, faith and discernment to help us process these deep emotions. This isn’t a journey meant to be traveled alone.

If you suffer from depression, you must be given a voice to express the unresolved or repressed anger frozen in your own heart. The heart cannot let go of what it has not grieved, so you must give yourself permission to grieve. Read the laments found in Psalms 69, 102 and 109. Send up your own distress signal to God, expressing the depths of your anger, grief and pain. If someone you love suffers from depression, don’t quiet them or try to minimize their pain. Help them find their voice. A caring counselor, a peer group, a caregiver trained in formational healing prayer are just a few of the ways to help find a voice for pain, for anger, for the injustice against you or your loved one.

Isaiah 58 says this:

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. 
Raise your voice like a trumpet… Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
…The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
 and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
 and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

As you give your heart voice for your pain, anger, fear and grief, may this blessing fall on you and fill the places in your soul left void and empty. Like a well-watered garden, may the Holy Spirit’s living water fill you and never fail you. Let those around you help you rebuild, repair, raise up and restore all that has been stolen from you. May you find a voice in Him whose voice created the heavens and the earth.

And may your spirit be set free, in Jesus’ name!

Blessings of Healing & Hope, Jody

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(C) 2014 Jody Thomae
Jody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You, a devotional book with Bible studies to nurture the creative spirit within. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the creative arts in church and formational ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the way in which God uses the arts to bring formational development and healing to His people.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Defying Shadows (below). However, that site is no longer available, so all of the original post is above.

Defying Shadows

Over the next few Wednesdays we will be sharing some Biblical Posts relating to Mental Health for Wisdom Wednesdays. We will also be having a few Guest posts. To start us off is a post from a lovely woman named Jody.

And She Lived her Life a Desolate Woman: A Meditation on 2 Samuel 13

Amnon took hold of Tamar and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her…

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Living Life with the Living Word: Life Scriptures

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Have you ever heard the term “life scriptures” or “life verse” and wondered exactly what it meant? You might have thought the obvious: they are scriptures for life, and that is indeed true! And yet, they can mean something much deeper.

Throughout my journey on this thing called life, certain scriptures have beckoned me to journey more deeply. In the midst of the storm, scriptures would speak clearly above the crashing thunder and bring peace and assurance. In the lulling comfort of seasons of blessings, other scriptures would help me recognize those blessings and get me on my feet to praise the source. In the darkest valleys, his Word would reassure me of His presence even though I could not see. Over and over, in every season of life, God used HIS WORDS, found in scripture, to speak into my life and the situations I faced. He’s so good!

But there’s more to a “life scripture”. . .

See, there are other scriptures that speak to a place so deep within your soul that you know that you know that you know those verses were meant to carry you and guide you through all seasons. These are verses that define you—or rather, God uses to define you and your relationship with him.

Consider this quote of Alistair Gregg of Truth for Life Radio Ministries:

In the scriptures

Photo (c) Madelyn Thomae http://www.jodythomae.com

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“God’s Creative Gift” Book Review by Artist & Speaker David Weiss

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Book review of my book from Dave Weiss of AMOKArts

AMOKArts


For the last month and a half I have been using God’s Creative Gift-Unleashing the Artist in You: Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within as my devotional and it has been a real blessing. I got the opportunity to meet Jody Thomae in May when I did Pictures of Jesus at her church Five Stones Community Church, but we actually met online when I saw a Facebook post about this book and decided to look into it. It’s a really wonderful book.

Jody Thomae manages to walk the thin line of having a book that is both scholarly and accessible. This is a very intelligent look at God’s work in His artists today by looking at our very creative God and biblical accounts of creativity. The book’s chapters each begin with an in depth look at their topic and then five devotional studies digging deeper into the…

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Women of Adventure: a Meditation on Genesis 24

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I generally write for artists and creatives. This devotional, however, is for women. Women of adventure!

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So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said.
Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left. ~ Genesis 24

Oh Rebekah, Rebekah. I admire your bravery and sense of adventure. A proposal has come through a servant of a man from a distant, foreign land and without hesitation you say, “Yes!” You are a woman of adventure!

Let me give you a little background to the story. Abraham is growing very old and has commissioned his most faithful servant to find his son Isaac a wife from among his own people. This means a trip back to Abraham’s homeland. With his mission bathed in prayer, he leaves with camels, servants, provisions, and many gifts.

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The Easter Drama Unfolds: a Meditation on John 20

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As you read, imagine the scene below as part of a larger drama unfolding. Think of the setting (Ancient Israel; very early in the morning at sunrise; Springtime, chill still in the air), the plot (Mary finds tomb empty; brings Peter and John to investigate; they find it as she reported; the body of Jesus is missing), the characters (Mary Magdalene, angels, Jesus) and the dialogue (try to hear it as you read).

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had bMary by tombeen lying.
“Dear woman, why are you crying?” they asked.
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.
“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener she said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” which means “Teacher”.
John 20:11-16, NLT

Now, let’s understand the implications of this drama:
Jesus appeared first to a woman. In a world, time and culture dominated by men—a woman. Not Peter, the Rock upon which the future church would be built. Not John, the disciple Jesus loved. But Mary Magdalene, a woman he had healed, rescuing her from a slew of demons that had held her hostage until Jesus touched her and set her free.

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Dancing in the River: a Meditation on Psalm 65

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Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing! (Psalm 65:9-13 MSG)

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Photo by Heidi Weller