Our very own Grace Chapel reporter, Sarah Carter, sat down with another fabulous Grace Chapel friend, Kelly Gilmore, and asked her some questions about her Expression of Worship: Biblical Artistic Journaling.
Sarah and Kelly met at a park to conduct the interview. Kelly is dyslexic, so it was decided that the easiest way to share her information was to record the conversation between the two women. Kelly mentions several of her journaling pictures in the dialogue, so we’ve included the pictures for reference and inspiration. Settle in to this woman-to-woman talk and be inspired to journal!
sc: Prior to doing the journal, what ways would you worship God…or has art always been part of your worship?
kg: Art hasn’t always been part of my worship experience. I’m not much of a reader, since I’m dyslexic, so reading is really hard. So my quiet time has been more praise and worship and that kind of thing.
sc: You went to art school?
kg: Yes, I did! I went to Winthrop University for Interior Design and a minor in Architecture.
sc: So you were already drawing at that point?
kg: I have been drawing my entire life…being an art major. But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I started Bible journaling so it’s relatively new.
sc: Was that your first time where your art and God kind of collided, or was obvious to you?
kg: Yah, it probably did because a lot of times I get lost in the art. Clay (Kelly’s husband) would laugh because I would disappear for three hours and come back and say, “That was three hours, holy cow!” But I don’t think that it was until I started Bible journaling that I noticed the difference.
sc: You have three little boys, how often would you say that you do decide, “I’m going to do some bible journaling today.”?
kg: A lot of times, an image will come to me. And then I actually put sticky notes in here (her bible) because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to, but the images are usually very vivid so I’m not going to forget it, so if I write a quick note and stick it in there, then I usually, when I get a chance… but I probably do it once a week or once every other week.
sc: So you’re reading something, and then you get the image?
kg: Well, it’s always a little bit different. and that’s why when people ask me about it, I don’t know what to tell them. Sometimes, I’ll get an image, or verse, but I know what it means to me and in time, the verse will show up and it’s like, “Oh! That’s exactly what this is for!” And then other times, it’s when we’re at church or Bible study and someone is speaking and all of a sudden, an image pops into my head and I’ve got to write that down. So it’s a little bit different.
sc: There’s not a fixed way that it happens?
kg: No! It’s not! That’s why it’s hard to describe it to people. Because, in the beginning when I wanted to do Bible journaling and I would read and then I would paint what I wanted to paint and I feel like those images felt really cold to me. They’re still really good images, but they don’t have a lot of meaning to me. Whereas, when I would read the verses and then pray about it and then paint, it’s significantly different. Or if it is something I heard in a sermon or a podcast. If I try to do it on my own merit, I feel like the ones I pray about and the Holy Spirit is in it, it is significantly more meaningful. People who look through my Bible…it’s funny which ones (her paintings) they pick out. It’s the ones where, clearly the Holy Spirit was working.
sc: looking at your drawing of the serpent in Genesis, to me, that is a more obvious, direct image that would go with Genesis.
kg: Whereas, say, in Acts, I’ve drawn the Clint Eastwood-style “The good, the bad, and the ugly” feel. That’s not necessarily something that I would have come up with for Paul’s journey. It was clear that no matter what was going on in Paul’s life, “the good, the bad, and the ugly”, he was doing it for God’s glory. God gave me this Wild West image. and I said, “Yes, exactly!” this one stands out because there’s something to it.
sc: There’s almost like an unleashed creativity in these that you wouldn’t think of on your own.
kg: Yah, I would not have come up with a Wild West theme for Acts. That’s not my “go-to”.
sc: What is an experience that you can remember that was super personal to you?
kg: It’s in Jeremiah. we were going through a really hard time in our marriage. and I couldn’t understand why all this bad was happening and I didn’t do anything. God gave me this image of a girl wandering through a rain storm and this bright red umbrella. And that no matter the storm, He is the umbrella. He’s going to protect you and keep you from the storm. Don’t lose focus with the storm raging on; the thunder and the lightning, just remember that I am with you. Focus on that. This one is very important to me!
sc: How often do you go back to it? For the reminder?
kg: I don’t know. I think that I think about it every week because its part of our journey out here. all of the junk that was going on in Florida, God told me, “Don’t worry, I have plans for you.” And I’m like, “Ok…but I don’t understand why all of this is going on” and then He was telling us that we’re moving. Everything we knew was in Florida. I talked with my husband and said, “God’s telling me that we’re moving,” and he said, “Oh good, you’re getting that too.” (Kelly goes on to describe to Sarah how the timing and the timeline of the move seemed almost impossible, but God came through with the details.)
From the beginning, God had said that Oregon was going to be a place of healing. We thought it was just a healing for our marriage, but my husband (Clay) has stomach issues and since we’ve been out here, his stomach issues have gotten significantly better. God provided the doctors and the research centers. I had a hip fracture and I started seeing some major healing once we got out here and got plugged in with the right group of people as far as the right nutrition and healing. My son has chronic pneumonia. In Florida, he would get this three to five times a year. and since we’ve gotten out here, he’s had one round close to pneumonia but it never went into full-blown pneumonia. God has definitely fulfilled that promise, but when I drew [the girl under the umbrella] it was very much the sorrow, but I knew that God hadn’t left me and now, we’re on the other side of it. I have seen how much has changed in the last year and a half. And I would never would have perceived that by the image He gave me!
sc: If you go for a period of time without connecting with God through your journaling, what do you notice about your spirit or mindset?
kg: Clay says, that I get ornery! (Kelly goes on to say that her husband asks her if she is going to go paint and that it’s been a while since she’s painted. And after she’s painted, she “goes back to Kelly”.) I will have more patience with the him and the kids and life in general. Even he can tell.
sc: Passions can change with God and our understanding and where He’s drawing us changes…but what would you say right now, with God, where your passions lie? What are you exploring with God? What are you interested in?
kg: Right now, just the fulfillment of promises. I feel like it has been a rough two and a half years. [From the Prophetic Art Night] Even when I painted that image, I didn’t even know the meaning of the image I painted until 3 days later. It was God saying, “Listen, I am fulfilling this promise. I told you two and a half years ago that it was going to change and be better and we had to hang in there and He is. He’s fulfilling the promise. So I think it’s just exploring His promises and that he’s continually fulfilling our promises whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the trial and the pain and the suffering, but I feel like lately, I feel like he’s been really showing His promises to me throughout scripture.
I have…this image of winter and the trees and the snow and he kept telling me that Spring is coming and so this one is the other half of the Jeremiah 29:11 [reference]. (Kelly mentions that she recognizes now the closeness of the trials she goes through.)
Kelly explains that her little boys see her pull out her art supplies and get excited! They ask her if she is going to journal so they wait until she is done with her image and look at it with her. They also ask her why Kelly drew it and what it means and what Bible story she got it from. So, this helps the Bible come to life for them. Her boys create their own images.
After 6 1/2 yrs of dating, 5 of which were long distance, I married my high school sweetheart. Recently, we moved clear across the country from sunny Florida to rainy Oregon. We are thoroughly enjoying exploring the Pacific Northwest with our very active little boys. You can check out more about Kelly on her blog: www.kelgil.blogspot.com