2016 08p1Inspiration

I recently visited Amsterdam, with its beautiful tall thin buildings, ornately gabled and quirkily crammed together beside criss-crossed canals. I was fascinated by these lean buildings, sandwiched together, exhibiting beautiful long windows, archways and balconies. I have discovered that this was due to the policy of taxing buildings by their width when space was at its premium in the city as Amsterdam prospered from merchant trading in the 1600’s.

Creativity flourishes under restriction

Isn’t it wonderful when restrictions make us creative? Have you found that? We have a wealth of choice; too much perhaps. You only have to go to the aisle of a supermarket to see the vast number of variations on one product….and yet, if I restrict my ingredients when I cook, I can be more inventive. I have found that it is when I reluctantly restrict my choices, especially in my artwork, that I find creative solutions that stretch my abilities and often result in the discovery of a new way of working. Some of my best work has been a result of the restriction of time, materials, size or colour.

2016 08p2Deeper foundations

I got to thinking about the foundations of these majestic Dutch buildings, wondering how deep they must go, to be so solid alongside canals.

In whom do we put our trust?

We know how essential foundations are to buildings, but it isn’t often we think about our own foundations: the things we have built our personal lives upon as being true & unalterable – that is until something happens unexpectedly that rocks the core of our understanding. A death, major accident, a stillborn child, a terminal illness, permanent disability, homelessness, divorce, an affair, unemployment, a national catastrophe, terrorism, a fire, murder…. the list goes on. How do we respond when the world we thought we were part of, dissolves in one sentence, one action, one event?

Something happened a few years ago that rocked the foundations of what I believed to be true. For several days & weeks, I could not function. My entire body was in shock. It was the darkest time I have ever experienced, but through it I learned that NOTHING on this earth is totally reliable. It brought me closer to God. I had always believed that God is my rock and salvation” (Psalm 18:2) but until then I had not fully experienced it. I was fortunate…and came through the abyss but not everyone has that ending.

In Matthew 7, Jesus says this:
” Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
I am convinced that had I no faith at that dreadful time, then I would have been like the man whose house washed away. The foundations of my life, are in God whom I trust, for everything else is temporary, no matter how solid it may seem.

Firm Foundations

In the UK right now, there is much uncertainty as votes and decisions have laid bare deep felt prejudices and opinions. My prayer is that those of us with the certain hope we have within us, (Hebrews 6:19) and those who have experienced the safety of God’s sure and solid foundation, are able to share that with those whose anger and uncertainty fills them with fear and worry for the future.

2016 08p3Textile Narratives

The textile piece that I have stitched this month is influenced by Matthew 7 and the buildings of Amsterdam. The foreground of the picture tells of God the rock, on whom we can build our lives with certainty and hope for the future. The image of the rocks is created from fabric paper and incorporates a faded copy of Matthew 7 within the paper. If you look really carefully, you can just about make out some of the words! The buildings are each one of our lives. Often we can’t see whose lives are built on solid ground or on sand, until the storms of traumatic times rain down.
The crystals and beads are the rain and the swirls in the centre represent the torrents of water that can uproot the foundations of our lives if we have built them on the sandy soil of things that do not last. Off centre, to the right at the back is the hint of the cross in the structure of the buildings… not immediately evident, just as Gods way isn’t always obvious. 2016 08p4The colours are predominately blues & purples…symbolic for me of truth, calm, peace and in the Bible, often reserved for the most Holy places within the temple. God does not guarantee calm and peace in our lives but if we dwell in a place that is anchored in the foundation of knowing God, then our lives will experience a peace that the world cannot give. (John 14:26) My prayer is that together, we can learn more of how to build our lives on God, “the rock that is higher than I”. (Psalm 61:2)

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