by Terri Hayden
This article was originally published in PCJH’s Winter 2023 Pinnacle, “Seeing God in the Arts”
As I sit down to write this article, I am adding the finishing touches to an order for a wedding here in the Flathead. As I pack up the centerpieces, I am moved to say a little prayer for the bride and groom, my small part in what will be a beautiful start to a new beginning.
I have loved “arts and crafts” for most of my life, starting with gum wrapper chains in grade school.
My mother always provided me with encouragement and the tools to color, glue, cut, draw, and assemble. My science fair projects always had an artistic flare, especially my “layers of the atmosphere” paper mâché diorama. I could spend hours out in the woods finding things in nature (and in the trash) that I could redesign and recreate into something new.
Over my years as a preschool teacher, and on a strict budget, I found that I could find the best items for projects in the trash and recycling bins. Paper towel rolls became beautiful sculptures, donated carpet squares became spaceships and boats, cardboard boxes strung together became a town. This passion has carried on into my adulthood and now into my retirement.
My business, Resurrected Gifts, gives new purpose to discarded or found materials. The local thrift stores know me, I even have the Tuesday crew at the local non-profit thrift store save items for me. I also have discovered the beauty in nature’s “crafts”. For example, I am an avid collector of sea glass. Its humble beginnings start out as glass that has been thrown away, discarded and broken. If the glass happens to land in water and is tossed about by waves and rocks taking some hard knocks along the way, it emerges smooth, refined, and beautiful, and finally pursued by someone who can turn it into a piece of art. I feel God does that with us. We find ourselves being discarded and tossed about, unsure of direction or purpose. All the while we are being gently refined by our Father, who loves us, pursues us, and transforms us into something useful and beautiful.
When I work on an idea or project, I feel a renewed energy and blessed that I was given creativity from our Maker. It took me quite a long time to accept that this is a “gift”. God gives us a portion of creativity and grace that is unique and helps us achieve what we are called to do. God is creative, and because we are formed in God’s image and likeness, we’re creative. It has taken me years to embrace this and to understand it is “a calling”. Taking the spiritual gifts inventory a few times confirmed this over and over.
Throughout the years I had the affirmation from friends and family to take the leap and try the craft fair circuit. Before this I was happy to give out my crafts as gifts, not ready to put my items on display or even charge money for them! Talk about a leap of FAITH!
I started out with a table at one of the first PCJH crafts fairs on a cold Saturday in December. A quick prayer beforehand helped to calm my nerves, along with the encouraging support of friends. What I discovered was that it was not about making money, but engaging with people, sharing my passion and connecting with fellow artisans.
I have continued to show at craft and art fairs all over the West. It’s not to say I have not had crafters block or had my spirits dampened when I would hear from shoppers “I can make that myself,” or they just walk on by my booth not even stopping for a chat. I would say to myself “wait, I didn’t even have a chance to tell them about my mission and passion!” It’s funny how one can dwell on the negative and tend to forget all the positive comments. I am reminded of this from my pastor husband all the time.
Just recently I was packing up from a show, as my “neighbor artist” handed me a painted “hand of God” she said she wanted me to have. We had gotten to know each other over the 2 days of the show and shared our faith journeys. Although sales had been slow, this thoughtful gift and newfound friend in Christ made it all worth it.