Healing through Creative Expression

Posted by Danielle Street on Jan 21, 2014 in Blog | 30 comments

Healing through Creative Expression

While hanging up artwork in an elementary school, my mother suddenly lost her balance and fell off a utility cart. This terrible accident which occurred in 2002 resulted in a serious head injury that developed into Grand-mal seizures. Over the years, my mother suffered from short-term memory loss, the inability to hear in one ear, and balance and perception issues.

Despite her physical limitations, she chose to remain obedient to God’s call in developing her creative gifts to serve others. I loved watching my mother find joy in teaching children about art and achieve peace as she painted murals for her church. She even went back to college and received her doctorate with a focus on how art can help children retain knowledge in all other academic subjects. Her story is one of many reminders that God made us in His image and has given everyone the ability to utilize creative expression in various forms to gain healing and strength.

My strong and beautiful mother retired last month from her position as an art teacher in the New Jersey public school district. After over 35 years of inspiring the next generation to dream, imagine, and create, I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use her in a creative way to touch more lives in her new home in Florida!

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

As children, many of us were encouraged to color, paint, draw, build, dance, sing, write, or play. How are you continuing to develop and exercise your creative skills as an adult?


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30 Comments

  1. avatar

    I love your mother and we’ll miss her. But I bet she’s not missing this snow ;) .
    One of the things that I love most about art/creativity–and about God–is that art is not divorced from work, and vice versa. I think we have trouble with this concept in our society because we are so driven to achieve goals and maximize output. Oftentimes that means we take all the art and beauty out of work. Art is set aside for “free time” (which of course we never have). But think about how the Lord works, how we have watched him accomplish his purposes in our lives and in our world. Or how he made the world and how he orchestrates every moment to fit into his grand scheme. No doubt about it, God works. And he is always successful. He always gets from point A to point B as he so desires without ever missing a deadline, even if he doesn’t take the “direct” or “most efficient” route. But the way he does it is also always beautiful. Is there any work he does that isn’t worth admiring or that is easily forgotten once finished? Never! Like the great symphonies, like great poetry, and famous masterpieces, we are left in awe of his work(s). Perhaps we can learn from him, as apprentices of the master, on how to live to the fullest both creatively and successfully!
    Psalm 139:13-16 .. He made us (wonderfully)! He weaves! He wrote our stories!
    Eph 2:10 and Isa 64:8 .. We are his workmanship! He is a potter! He works with his hands!
    Zeph 3:17 .. He is mighty and he saves! He delights in his work! He sings!

    • avatar

      Amen!! Thank you so much for adding your thoughts to the topic of creativity, Rebekah. I love what you wrote. I agree. We can mistakenly think that art is something we do in our free time and forget to include it in our spiritual journey. You’re right. Art and creativity is all around us! I’m reminded of it as I watch the snow fall from the sky right now! We are also God’s masterpiece and we can allow Him to shape our dreams into a beautiful work of art. Thank you, Rebekah, for sharing some fantastic verses that remind us of this!

  2. avatar

    I love this story and it reminds of the wonderful biblical two-word phrase that can (and does) change everything. BUT GOD.

    Doesn’t He always have a another direction, another way, another creative way of aligning us to His perfect will for us? BUT GOD.

    Can’t wait to hear how your gifted mom will be used by the Lord in the coming months and years!

    • avatar

      Yes!! Thank you, Michele. Very true! God’s creative plan is perfect. May we all remember to seek Him every step of the way!

      “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

  3. avatar

    What a beautiful and encouraging story! I had the opportunity to meet your mother for the first time at FAC’s Christmas Cantata. Right away I realized what a special person she was. As we were talking, surprisingly I found out she was your mother. I explained that you recently taught a “Mighty Women of God” class that I attended and how much I enjoyed it. This lead to our little mishap concerning clay pieces we made. Your mother who has a kiln graciously offered to fire them for us. The kiln unexpectantly broke and our carefully formed pottery melted. You and your mother took this opportunity to teach our class a valuable lesson. She mounted our pieces and they were transformed into something new and beautiful. Sometimes we expect things to go a certain way but God has other plans for us. At first we might feel disappointed and confused but trusting that God is the Supreme Potter can give us much comfort. I’m sure wherever life takes your mom she will touch people’s lives in a positive way. Thanks for sharing her story and I am so grateful that this wonderful teacher was able to teach me such a valuable lesson. Lorraine

    • avatar

      I’m so glad you shared this, Lorraine! It was a wonderful lesson we learned from what happened with the kiln. God is so good and we can always trust His creative plan! I’m very thankful the Lord connected us together and gave you an opportunity to meet my mom. May you continue to develop your creative gifts and use them to serve God and others!

  4. avatar

    As I look out at the snow today I once again am reminded that God has made all things beautiful. I think art is one of the neatest things to teach. Is there anything that reflects being made in the image of God more than that? I wonder if Jesus will give us some art lessons when we get to Glory!

    Job 38:4-7 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone— 7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?

    Like the angles I believe we shall all shout for joy when we see God’s artistic handiwork demonstrated!

    • avatar

      I agree!! Thank you for posting your comment, Joe. Great stuff! Amen! It’s so easy to look at the snow as something that is interrupting our plans. We can choose to see the snow as a beautiful reminder to slow down our lives, recognize God’s creativity, thank Him for being made in His image, and utilize the creative gift we were all given!

      “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship” (Exodus 35:31).

  5. avatar

    Danielle, it is intriguing to think of all the lives that will have been influenced for creative good through your mother. The children will grow into parents themselves and possibly pass on the importance of art in their own lives to their offspring and so on…

    Art is healing even in the privacy of one’s own journal. For over thirty years of walking with the Lord I love to collect Scriptures, quotes, and pictures to add to the pages. Often I sketch and write poems in the secrecy of my journal, only to read them years later and be reminded of God’s faithfulness. He has made trees “pleasing to the eye,” and I believe we have inherited this desire to create beauty. Art is a wonderful way to do this.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • avatar

      Thank you for reminding us we were all born with a desire to create beauty, Wendy! I truly admire how you take the time to notice God’s creativity within you and in nature. Then you take it a step further by recording what you’ve learned and sharing your experiences with others. Praise God!!

      “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” (Joel 1:3).

  6. avatar

    What a beautiful testimony!

  7. avatar

    What a beautiful testimony to the healing power of art in a person’s life! Thank you so much for sharing the story of your mother’s courage.

    We are all created in God’s image, the Most High Creator of the Universe, so there is most certainly an artist in everyone. It grieves me when I hear adults say that they “don’t have a creative bone in their bodies” because it means that somewhere along the way they believed the judgmental lies someone told them as children and took them to heart.

    For several years I facilitated art classes in the day program my daughter attends for adults with special needs. During this time I witnessed the work of students who could not verbally express themselves in many cases but could produce works of art depicting their joys and sorrows and frustrations in the most amazing ways. Their art came forth freely, unfiltered and pure….straight from the core of their beings..the place where God abides. It was a testiment to the fact that there truly is an artist in each of us!

    Everyone should create art for the sheer joy of doing so. It may never hang in the Louvre but an honored spot on the refrigerator will do nicely!

    Thank you again Danielle for sharing your mother’s story. She sounds like an amazing woman. And don’t forget her other masterpiece..You!

    • avatar

      Wow! Amen! Thank you, Barbara!! I can relate to what you wrote. It saddens me to hear many adults say they think they aren’t creative. Thank you for reminding us through your testimony that there is an artist in all of us. We were all made in God’s image and born with creative abilities! May you continue to encourage others to develop and utilize their creative gifts!

  8. avatar

    Danielle,

    I was surprised to learn about the accident you mom suffered because she obviously never let that hold her back. In the last 1.5 years your mom and I have been volunteering at a youth group together and she’s always been so joyful, so full of life, blending right in with all the teens. She used her talents by drawing with the kids at the special art table, using her creativity as we planned special events and as she taught the lessons. I love that she never gave up and kept inspiring people with her passion. We’ll miss her a lot.

    Tatiana

    • avatar

      Aw, thank you, Tatiana! My mom loved telling me how much she enjoyed working in the youth ministry with you and everyone. When she reads your comment, I know it’s going to bring tears to her eyes! Thank you so much for adding your beautiful words on my blog. It really means a lot to me and my mom!!

  9. avatar

    Danielle,
    Your mother’s story is beautiful. I wish her many blessings in this next chapter of her life. I am sure she has touched many lives in her 35 years of teaching! I too can’t wait to hear how God will use her creative gifts in her retirement.
    As a kindergarten teacher myself,I love that I get to use my creativity in my classroom. Most every day, we get to color,draw,write,sing,dance,and play. My Kinders remind me of the simple pleasures in life. Thank you for sharing your Mom’s testimony.

    • avatar

      I’m so happy you added a comment, Tracey. What a great example on how we can join our kids in developing and utilizing our creative gifts together! We can learn so much from how a child isn’t afraid to explore new materials and try making new things. I love how you are encouraging your precious kindergartners to learn about the visual and performing arts. Praise God!

  10. avatar

    What a beautiful testimony!

  11. avatar

    This is such a touching story and a great reminder that God gave us our gifts and can use them in any circumstance. Thanks for sharing!

  12. avatar

    You are absolutely correct in saying that God gave us our gifts and will use them in any circumstance!! Thank you one and all for your touching comments, especially Dani, our first precious masterpiece from heaven!! I am humbled with your words of encouragement! I give God all the praise and glory for using me to share my creative skills and knowledge. I also look forward to what the future holds. My heart and hands are ready to continue to serve Him!!! “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 ESV

    • avatar

      Yay! Praise God! I’m happy you added your comment, mom. I love how you said your heart and hands are ready to serve the Lord. God has exciting plans for you as you enter this new chapter in your life. I pray that you continue to allow Him to creatively shape you and your dreams into His beautiful masterpiece!! XOXO

  13. avatar

    Hi Danielle! Thank You for sharing your Journey with Our Lord with me. I also think snow is beautiful, it’s great to sit and spend time with our Lord in the beauty of His creation. There are no coincidences with God. Your mom and your family have gone through some tough trials. Recently I asked one of our pastors about his teaching on James 1;2 (about trials) since I am facing some trials also. Trials are never purposeless. The devil is trying to get us to fail and doubt God. God is giving us the opportunity to Trust His purposes. When we obey Him in trust that He is at work through the trial we develop patience,endurance,and will be made complete in our development of Christ-likeness. If we struggle so much in the middle of the trial we don.t know what to do. Vs 5 tells us what to do: “Ask for wisdom” to know how to handle it Romans 5 3:5 gives us even more detail about what happens if we follow God’s trials: we gain endurance,character ,hope, and we will never be ashamed. Rather we will have God’s love flow through us. The words obedient,trials, and even art have been placed on my heart in the past few months. It is hard to come out of our comfort zone. God gives us the courage. I will pray for your mom’s new beginning, and for your ministry to be blessed by God. In Christ Love, Joan Troxell

    • avatar

      Hi Joan! I love what you shared. Thank you for reminding us God’s Word is full of wisdom and guidance. We need to trust God and His Word each step of the way of our spiritual journey. You’re right. When we are obedient to our Heavenly Father during the good times and the bad, we will be rewarded! When we pray and ask for help in the midst of pain, I’m thankful that God will always respond with love. I’ve learned that our Creator often communicates love through art. Art is all around us! Whether its through the beauty of His creation or through music and literature, God is speaking to us. We have to remember to stop and listen!
      Love Your Sister in Christ,
      Danielle

    • avatar

      Thank you, Marko. Beautiful photography on your website. May you continue to serve others with your gift of creativity!

  14. avatar

    I find that writing through trials, trusting God to give me the words that will help me work through whatever is happening, opens me up and allows me to get past it and heal. I pour out the pain and the feeling of brokenness into the words and leave them there. It is also through my writing that the Lord has opened my eyes to things that I have not seen before, whether it is something that I need to change in my life or an unexpected clarity in viewing someone else and their life.

    • avatar

      Hi Drusilla, I miss having you share your words of wisdom on my blog. Thank you so much for taking a moment to write how the Lord helps you utilize creative expression to gain healing and strength. You reminded us the importance of recording what God has placed on our hearts! “Then the LORD replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it’ ” (Habakkuk 2:2).

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