Hi Lorien. Welcome to Pursuits of God. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am married to Ben and we have three kids (6, 4 and 1). I did most of my growing up in other countries and love to travel, sing, draw, eat chocolate and be at the beach – not necessarily in that order!
How would you describe your relationship with God?
I am glad that God does not change, and neither does his grace-filled love for me. While I go through seasons of life when my feelings shift, when doubts bubble up and when the busyness of everyday jostles my faith and stretches my trust, it is a great and grounding truth that I am God’s and he is steadfast. He is teaching me to take refuge in Him, and walk more closely with him through each change and season. He isn’t finished with me yet!
What are some ways that you pursue a relationship with God?
I find that in the daily chaos of life with three little kids, to pursue a deepening relationship with God requires intentionality and self-discipline. To be completely honest, I struggle with both from time to time! I love to read the Bible – God’s word is such a convicting, refreshing, challenging, healing breath of life, and I try to do this as often as possible. Prayer is also important to me – it helps me to keep perspective as I use the moments to thank God for his good gifts as I notice them, pray for patience and wisdom, and remember others’ needs before our caring Father. I also love to use creative methods to reflect on scripture and to etch it into my memory and onto my heart. Singing a scripture based song or drawing an illustrated Bible verse helps connect my creative heart with the solid truth of God’s word.
How does your relationship with God affect other relationships in your life?
There is nothing like marriage and parenthood to make you aware of your own sinfulness and shortcomings! Thankfully, I have been shown boundless love and grace by my Father, and this example helps equip me to try to imitate this grace and love in my own relationships. As I daily turn to God for forgiveness, he helps me to forgive. As I rely on his strength, he gives me strength beyond my own to cope with the ups and downs of life and relationships. As God pursued me, I aim to pursue relationships with others that will help them look to Jesus too.
You are the illustrator/ designer of the new colouring-in book “Meditations”, where you illustrate Bible verses for adults to enjoy meditating on the verses as they colour them in. How do you choose the verses?
I chose the verses for a variety of reasons. I want them all to be encouraging or comforting, or to challenge the person colouring them to persevere in the faith and rely on God. Some of the verses in the book were suggested to me by people for whom they had been especially significant. Some are verses I find particularly helpful, or ones I need to keep hearing. I included some with the aim of lifting people’s eyes to look at the character and nature of God. There is really no shortage of excellent stuff to meditate on, when your primary source is the Bible!
You first started sharing your own Bible journaling designs with others, which is how your artistic ministry grew. How do you prioritise and use your time with God?
When I have a nice long time to spend ‘quietly’ with God, I do love to draw or paint and write out passages to help me reflect on God’s word. I have a journaling Bible which I enjoy using to write notes or illustrate standout verses in the margins as I’m reading through a book of the Bible. I’ll pray and read, and then doodle as I pray and think some more. I love the way that creativity helps to connect my head and my heart with what God is saying through his word. However, with small (but yet, so loud!) children and the business of life, these leisurely quiet times are not regularly available, so I usually try to read a shorter passage or even just a few verses and then spend some time in prayer at various times during the day. With every change in my children’s development and our family routine, when and how this happens has to change. I go through times when I am less or more disciplined about making them happen, and I’m thankful for God’s grace in sustaining me through times when I should be more disciplined, but am not, and grateful that he still loves me when I fall into bed at midnight having prayed in short snatches, and read one verse on my daily bible verse phone app, instead of soaking deeply in his word like I would love to have done.
Can you describe your artistic process in creating these beautiful designs?
All my designs are drawn by hand, including the lettering. I almost always start with the words, as this is the most important part of the artwork and sometimes gives me the ideas for images or symbols to incorporate in the designs. Doing it this way also gives me the chance to meditate on God’s word as I draw, which is wonderful. Sometimes the verse will have a direct or striking image painted into the language, which I will use as the basis of a design, but often, the designs are just patterns which will hopefully be enjoyable to colour and help reflect the beauty that God has given us in the world. I will usually letter and draw in pencil first, and after a few drafts, when I am happy with the layout and design, I will ink it with black pen. Then comes the process of scanning and digitizing the image and cleaning up the little smudges and slips where I *may* have fallen asleep (I work at night when the kids are in bed!) which is the job of my lovely publisher, Cecily. I have also recently started drawing for the next book using an ipad and ipencil which really speeds up the process, but still allows the hand drawn look which I want to maintain.
You have been inspired by ‘mehndi’ or henna decoration from South Asia and the Middle East- what took you to these areas of the world?
I was born in Australia, but lived in Pakistan with my family for 7 years and then in Bahrain for 4 years. My parents were Christian workers in a variety of roles. It was an amazing way to spend the major developmental years of my life and I am so thankful to God for placing me in that context! I returned to live in Australia when I was 16, which was a whole different adventure!
These areas are often negatively portrayed in the media, particularly with the unrest and Refugee crisis. How has your experience living there impacted the way you view these issues?
I feel like having lived in these areas has given me an appreciation for the people behind the statistics that we see in the media, and a love and concern for them which I may not have developed if I had not grown up there. The worldwide refugee situation is one issue that God has especially placed on my heart, and has led my husband and I to be involved with refugees here in Sydney over the past few years. Later this year we hope to move to a city in that area of the world which is experiencing a huge influx of asylum seekers, to work with local believers to come alongside these people as we are able, to offer practical support and emotional/spiritual care in the name of Jesus. I believe that God is present and working in every part of the world, and that people everywhere desperately need to know that the only place to find true peace and refuge is in God through Jesus.
What advice would you give to women, in allowing God’s Word and his Spirit to shape and define their purpose and focus for life?
Wow… What a massive question! I’ll give a tiny part of one answer. Take the small steps of obedience.
In the Bible we have been allowed a glimpse into the mind of God, his grand plans and purposes for human kind, and his delightful, personal, loving concern for each person he has made. We know the big stories of faith. We see the huge needs in the world. We sometimes experience great suffering. We get overwhelmed.
In all of this, I think God just asks us to take small steps of obedience, every day. To get up and acknowledge that God is God, and we are not. To make the little choices of everyday life with a view to pleasing God first. To love someone who is hard to love. To say sorry when we mess up. To speak about Jesus as we have opportunity. To pray. To make dinner for your family…again. In my case, to draw a picture!
The small steps will sometimes lead to Big Steps, but sometimes they won’t. Some days they will come more easily and some days obedience will be HARD! We really have no clue about what the future holds, but at each point God asks us to trust that he does and then to take those small steps of obedience, while keeping our eyes on the Big Picture of eternity. It’s easy to say and so much harder to do but thankfully God doesn’t leave us alone in the task – the Holy Spirit in us is the only hope we have for being able to take any steps of obedience at all!
Finally, you are a woman of many gifts- you are a wife, mother to three, artist and now published author/illustrator, how do you manage your time and how do you prioritise how to use your time and gifts for God’s glory?
I see my main ministry at this point in my life as being to my husband and children – investing in and caring for the children and home I am responsible for in the practical day to day things of life is what takes the majority of my time at the moment. Although it doesn’t look ‘glorious’, I feel that being faithful in this task is how I should be working for God’s glory, and I take seriously the opportunity I have to raise my Children with a knowledge of God’s love for them and of his plans as presented in the Bible. I also try to take the opportunities that having small children allows, such as being involved in a play group and mum’s Bible study, to have meaningful relationships with women, both believers and non-believers, in my community. My art and ministry as an illustrator of scripture verses fits around the edges of the rest of life, as a different kind of priority which means usually working at night on drawings, business tasks and preparing for the speaking engagements I do from time to time. I often don’t feel like I hold things in perfect balance – life does feel like a massive juggling act, especially as we prepare to move overseas, but God is so faithful in sustaining and enabling me when my own time and emotional resources are stretched. I love the verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘But he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”’ God can be glorified even in my weakness!
Image Courtesy: Katherine Roper