What joy and delight to have you here on Free to Flourish, my friend! I gotta tell you that I am loving your new inspirational coloring book, Colors of Hope! Your artwork and the Scriptures you chose wash over me in joy and peace. I mentioned on a earlier blog that the Lord used your coloring book to help me be more playful as I connected with Him in a busy season.
Sometimes I just need a little less intense way to have some time of quiet with the LORD. Don’t get me wrong. I love deep study, deep prayer, journaling—all of that. I’m wired for deep spiritual processing. But at the same time I sense the LORD calling to me to rest. To meditate on His hope. Not to take myself and life so seriously. He is in the beauty. The art. The creativity. He is joy. He shares His joy, His hope, His peace as I simply turn my gaze toward Him. Colors of Hope has helped me do just that. And it is interesting that deep still comes out of this more playful approach. Thank you, Lisa, for letting Him pour His Spirit and creativity through you in this venue. I know I’m not the only one drawn to Him through this coloring book!
Let’s start at the beginning of your journey with this project. Your work as a novelist gained acclaim as some of the most thoughtful and well-written work published in the Christian Booksellers market. I’m glad you’re still writing, and I’m glad you are also embracing this form of art and sharing it with us. Where did your desire to create an inspirational coloring book come from?
Thank you so much, Paula. I so appreciate every good thing you’ve had to say! Wow! And I’m so happy that Colors of Hope has been a meaningful experience for you. Mission accomplished! Colors of Hope came from a heart’s cry to God. I had gone through a divorce, was unsettled inside myself and in the world around me. It was a very dark time, and I just didn’t know what to do. I had been coloring for a few months and I realized I had a knack for creating mandala-style art. So I just prayed to God. I said, “You said that you would bless the work of our hands, to establish that, so I’m going to claim that promise now. If I show up every day and draw, I’m going to claim that blessing.” And so I did. I drew faithfully, and my daughter helped me edit the drawings on the computer, and we sent them off to Revell with a description for two follow up books. Vicki Crumpton, my editor and champion, took the work through all the stages and we ended up with three books. Colors of Hope, Colors of Faith, and Colors of Love.
All of your art is original and beautifully hand-drawn. Can you tell us a little about the process of creating this art?
It’s important to me that this does not look computer-generated. I wanted real lines that originated on paper. I use a lightboard at times as well. So I initially do the sketch on graph paper so I don’t have to do a lot of time-consuming measuring with the ruler, and then I transfer that to a light board, place a nice clean sheet of cardstock on top and ink in the design. That’s about it!
I gotta be honest. Sometimes coloring feels like it takes too much time! I’ve learned to set a timer because I would prefer to finish a picture in a day, but I need to get to my other responsibilities. Here’s what I discovered. The first day I spent extended time coloring I wrote 4,309 words on my contracted novella! That’s a productive writing day! They say there is actually a connection between coloring and productivity in adults. Can you speak to this idea?
That’s not surprising. Coloring de-stresses us. There is something about utilizing our small motor skills that enables us to focus on something else other than our worries. In Colors of Hope, there is a coordinating Bible verse on which the colorist can meditate as well. So couple those two things together and you can come to your writing, or whatever you work you are doing, with a much better, less-stressed state of being. So, naturally, your output will be easier to achieve and, in your case, of greater volume. Our brains are marvelous things!
I mentioned my journey with your coloring book took me places somewhat unexpected, places I would consider pretty deep for such a gentle process. I shared some of them on Facebook and plan to share those pondering here on Free to Flourish throughout this week. Why do you think the coloring book is touching these places within us?
I’m not surprised you had this experience, Paula. The Psalmist says God leads us beside still waters and restores our soul. I feel like artistic expression, and such a gentle one as coloring, is the perfect opportunity for the Spirit to speak words of love and depth to our hearts. We are in a state of less stress and worry, and more open to hear God’s whispers.
Colors of Hope is absolutely beautiful! How do you see the concept of beauty in relationship to God and who He is and how He relates to us?
God speaks to me in several love languages. One of the more prominent ones is beauty. When I see beauty sometimes I just well up inside knowing it is a gift. I am a sky-watcher and allow myself to bask in the wonder and majesty of the beauty found there almost every day. Living in Colorado has made this an even more wondrous experience! I believe God wants to give us beautiful sights, sounds, smells, feels, and experiences. Beauty is one way we can experience God, and in turn, through us, He can experience Himself in the beauty of our reception of Him.
I think you and I are learning some similar things–like how releasing grows into receiving. How hope blooms in unexpected places. Can you share a little around these concepts?
Releasing is sometimes letting things be exactly what they are and not being attached to our own expectations. Releasing is less striving and more receiving. So when we accept who we are, God’s Beloved Child, made in God’s image and likeness, there are so many things we can let go of and release to become whatever it is supposed to be in its highest form. In that way, we see things bloom in a way that is unexpected and far better than we could have hoped. Hope without trust is like wandering in the dark. Hope with full trust is that childlike state of wonder and expectation, being God’s Child who knows their Heavenly Parent will not give them stones and spiders. Consider the lilies, consider the sparrows. As Jesus said, “If God so clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows, how much more will He take care of you?”
How has your relationship with God changed in the last ten years?
I’ve experienced God in so many ways the past ten years, but to sum it up, through the twists and turns and dark passages, I realized the Light of God never left, I just felt unworthy to look up and receive it. Now I know better. I know that “walking in the Light as He is in the Light” is where I want to be. God is Love. God is good, kind, compassionate and merciful, and I can trust Him to always be those things. Before, well, I was pretty much walking on eggshells all the time wondering if I was “doing it right.”
Has this change affected your work?
Yes. But I’m not completely sure how yet. I’ve been working on a novel that was conceived in the dark times, but I know that was for a purpose. So integrating that work now to show the Light and Love of God is what the piece is going through and it’s exciting to see the transmutation of it. As for my art and particularly the coloring, my purpose is to bring joy to people. Coloring is so helpful in the relief of some of the symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. I do a live coloring show on Facebook that also gives tips not just for coloring but for overcoming some of the symptoms by diet and retraining ourselves to think a little differently, more gently, and with love and compassion for not only others, but ourselves as well. My prayer is that people don’t have to suffer a moment longer than is necessary. Healing is possible.
I love the Facebook live coloring times you offer on your page. The way you talk about the concepts of the Scriptures you share in such a meaningful, light, conversational way is such a blessing. I’ve also learned some great coloring techniques that a non-artist like me wouldn’t think of. How can my readers access these?
By coming to my profile. You can click on the videos section and they’re all right there for you to access!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Just the message that God loves you, right where you are, no matter what. He always has and He always will.
Paula here again. You can find Colors of Hope at Lisa’s website as well as in Barnes and Noble and most Christian bookstores. I noticed that today it is on sale on-line at Christian Books. It can also be found on-line at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!