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Things I Never thought I'd Be Doing: Photography, Taxidermy & Rebooting Self

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent upon unhistoric facts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life” - George Eliot, Middlemarch.

I made this my prayer yesterday and if you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen a little excerpt from this blog. What a beautiful testimony to a hidden life. In terms of physics, to be diffusive means to intermingle by natural movement of particles, like a fragrance in the air. But my take on that word this morning was like that of a bomb disposal unit, going towards danger armed to disarm. I'm praying I'll bring peace wherever I go, mend bridges rather than burn them, diffuse a situation rather than inflame it. My oh my if that isn't a word for the current world climate I don't know what is. Have you fallen prey to any of the madness ensuing, been drawn in to hurtful, fruitless debates or arguments? I am feeling convicted about this. I've done pretty well by God's grace but I definitely had a 'snap' moment a few weeks ago which makes me sad but it's better to learn and move forward doing better than beat myself up about it.

Middlemarch has been sitting on my bookshelf for approx two years! I attempted it once then grew faint hearted over its sheer size, you can see the little tab where I halted my ascent upon this mountainous volume. That's a pretty poor effort on my part I can embarrassingly see now. I’ll brave this masterpiece one day, it’s waiting for me!

I'm undergoing some sort of metamorphosis during this season of life, a coming more into myself, maybe that happens naturally with age but change is happening, maybe it's a mid-life! With change comes struggle, just like the butterfly fighting it's way out of the chrysalis I am wrestling into newness, do you sense the world struggling towards a newness right now? Change might be the wrong word, shedding feels more accurate, shedding old labels, ways, mindsets, and waking to newness.

In the second book of Corinthians Paul writes, "Therefore if any person is in Christ he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!". The fresh and new has come and is coming; we continue to grow in degrees of holiness and maturity, we are ever being made new and into His image. I love what mentor and communicator Paul Scanlon says, "If you haven't seen me for 6 months let me introduce myself".

Like many of you I have been educating myself to the sufferings and struggles many people of colour face, learning more about POC (People of Colour), BAME Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic, BIPOC (Black/Indigenous People of Colour) groups. This is an ongoing conversation and one which I hope will continue to grow in my life. I care about this alot, I think God does too.

A constant wrestle is my approach to work, how I view what I do. I've always desired that God would be glorified in what I do whether that is writing or photography, but often there creeps in a silent but strong pressure to be more obvious in the way I represent God. To me it ends up feeling forced, driven by a you should do this guilt rather than a grace giving you're free to do this. I know this is wrong and part of my wrestling is to walk free from that. For now I'm seeing my work allegorically as 'tent making' (like the apostle Paul) and telling myself very often to stop over thinking (ha! good luck) and stop over spiritualising also. But, in saying all the above, I would love to have my work be philanthropic in some way so I'm praying about that.

I'm sharing more gorgeousness today from my sewing themed shoot earlier in the week, you're getting a sneak peek of yet unseen images! Isn't this little piece of embroidery (below) just delightful? I found it at a market stall in Oxford, this particular market is on every Thursday in Gloucester Green, although there's no green to be seen nowadays just a paved square area. I make quite the day of it and persuade one of my two adult children to accompany me on the expedition, it doesn't take much as there's always the promise of the best salted caramel brownies and a feast at the food stalls. This perfectly petit swatch cost me all of £3 and I knew it would look lovely in a shoot, it deserved showing off. My knowledgable daughter Zoe tells me this stitch is known as Latch Hooking which forms the tiny loops you can see clearly in the image. Since reading The Castle On The Hill by Elizabeth Goudge I always look at tapestry and embroidery with a deeper appreciation, you can read more about this book on my blog HERE.

If you look to the underside of any sewn work you’ll see a tangled mess of threads, chaos, no perceivable pattern. But turn it over and the pattern becomes clear, not only clear but beautiful. Isn’t this a hidden life? Even in the messes and seeming chaos of the everyday we can be instruments of a beautiful creation, needles in the hand of

Master Sewer. Only in time will we see the rewards of all that we sew/sow daily.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God

We don’t know yet what all this means but one day we shall. I don’t want to be put off by the underside just now, I need to keep sewing.

Now that things are slowly opening back up I've been a busy hunter and gatherer the past few weeks, thoroughly enjoying the life-giving exercise of charity shopping. You'll see little treasures in my images that I've foraged and keep stored away for their perfect scene and timing. I'm thinking alot about storytelling with my images and how I can use this style more but my ultimate goal is to photographically reproduce on a large scale, Dutch style floral still life images. I am being very naughty now and am sharing a new image I just shot yesterday because well, I'm so excited and can't help myself and we're all friends here. It's the closing image at the bottom. You will also see my very own dried bee making his debut. I confess, it's a miracle he's still in one piece as I threw him aside like a scaredy cat a couple of times even though he's dead!! And take a look at this wonderful piece of textured board which I found at the back of a shed in a furniture restoration company. It wasn't even for sale, it's one of the boards they work on when fixing up other items and painting them. Perfect! I managed to walk out with it for £8. It's already made an incredible backdrop in the top image and others which you'll see on Instagram soon.

All this talk of books has gotten me in the giveaway mood, I love sharing books which have touched my life. So watch this space and I'll soon put together a little package of goodies for one lucky subscriber.

I will sign off here friends. Today is a day of banging doors in our home, not due to arguments or angsty kids but this wind, when will it end? My laundry on the line isn't complaining though and I love the smell of air dried bed linen don't you? I smell fresh coffee wafting from the kitchen and some pastries have gone in the oven to warm. Have a wonderful weekend, thank you for following in the journey and I hope you see the kindness and goodness of God in some small ways today.

With love,

Jacqui X

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