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In His Image: Creating
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In His Image: Creating

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Words by Leslie Bustard

This is Part Two of the series "In His Image." Read Part One: The Ezer.

In my college biology class, I sat next to a graphic design major who filled his notebook pages with sketches. I think it may have been this doodling that caused my heart to move him from the “friend” zone into the “I-think-I-want-to-date-you” zone. A couple of years later, he put his artistic stamp on our wedding when he designed and hand-lettered our invitations and wedding program. When I started student teaching, he added his signature style to all of my history class handouts. Since the early days of our relationship, my life has been filled with goodness because of Ned’s artistic vision and skills.

But in the early years of our marriage, I doubted my own creative abilities. Although I had an appreciative eye for classic paintings and could arrange lovely spaces, I fixated on my inability to make beautiful things. As a child, I could barely put a craft together without the glue globbing or the paper ripping. I loved decorating Christmas cookies, but they never turned out looking even remotely like the pretty ones in my cookbooks. And my culinary skills were limited to making pancakes from a box and boiling water for spaghetti.

When I was around 23, a friend encouraged me to read Edith Schaeffer’s classic book Hidden Art of Homemaking. As I sought to develop a vision for what homemaking would look like, her ideas inspired me. Schaeffer wrote: “So we are, on a finite level, people who can create. Why does man have creativity? Why can man think of many things in his mind, and choose, and then bring forth something other people can taste, smell, feel, hear, and see? Because man was created in the image of a Creator. Man was created that he might create.”

My imagination expanded as I read “each person has some talent which is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being, and which could be expressed and developed.” I understood her to say that we could enrich the lives of the people we live amongst as we develop these hidden arts.

Schaeffer’s ideas agreed with the writer Dorothy Sayers, who said that when we look back at Creation, “we find only this single assertion 'God created.' The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and the ability to make things.”*

In my previous article, I introduced the concept of women reflecting the image of God by acting as ezers—a Hebrew word often translated as “helper,” and used to describe God in relation to his people. As my family grew to include three daughters, so did my vision of how to live out this strong helper design through weaving beauty, truth, and goodness into our home culture. I wanted to create an environment that honored what God honors and loved what God loves. I took Edith Schaeffer’s idea—that some type of creativity was in me that could be used to help my family and my community—and made it my own.

I might not be a “capital A” artist like my husband, but I was imaginative and purposeful. Imaginative purposefulness included leading my children as we served together in our church, cared for our neighbors, shared poetry during Saturday morning waffle breakfasts, and established celebrations and traditions in our home around the church calendar. I worked to improve my cooking and gardening skills and began arranging fresh flowers around the house. These were the things I loved, and they were beautiful things I could give to my family.

I soon realized that while I was creating culture in my home, I was also obeying the cultural mandate found in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heaven and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Although what I did was ordinary, I was working for the life of the people God had given me and in the places he had put me. I wanted to help them love God and love their neighbors; I wanted to help them be formed by what was true, lovely, and lasting.

Although I love arranging summer sunflowers in a vase and potting begonias in planters, my creative skills still do not fall in the realm of thread and needles or pen and paper. I have discovered, through learning a little more about food, baking, and cooking, that I can create an environment around the kitchen table which fosters joy, unity, and grace.

One kitchen table tradition happened by accident, long before I learned the word charcuterie. One night, my daughters came home from an activity too keyed up for bed but too weary to talk. In an effort to connect, I placed in front of them a wooden bread board bearing some sliced cheddar cheese, crackers, fruit, and chocolate. Surprised by this new combination, they started munching, and stories and laughter soon spilled out. What was just an impromptu cheese board time was about to become an integral part of our family culture.

Now, whether I create a cheese board for just the five of us to help us reconnect after long periods apart (two of our daughters live in New York City) or for a time to enfold and care for friends, curating satisfying cheese boards has become one of my favorite artistic mediums. One daughter observed the beauty of it is not just in the flavors, but in the presentation. Instead of throwing food on the table, I take special care in arranging the hard and soft cheeses and specialty meats on heavy wooden boards and the fruit, chocolate, and honey in small colorful bowls. With candles lit and music playing, the board placed in the middle, and sparkling drinks passed around, the table is set, inviting everyone in to be loved. Although my art does not decorate our walls the way Ned’s does, the beauty I have brought to my family is in what happens around the table as we munch and talk, sharing life, laughter, and listening ears.

As women, we create a culture and an environment for our people. With Christ’s wisdom and grace, and the Holy Spirit’s help, the environments we create can point others to the living God. Each day, we can mirror him as ezers in the way we share our words, our talents, our vision, our strengths, and even our weaknesses. It is through the ways we serve that we create culture and build goodness in our communities.

The beauty of God’s design is that it will look different for each of us as we image him as creative makers and ezers. He gives each of us different abilities and loves. Where I added making cards for missionaries into our family culture, you may add visiting shut-ins. Where I added museum wanderings, you may add family hikes. Where I added hosting our neighbor for Christmas Eve dinner, you may add serving at the local rescue mission. Whatever goodness you have to give, give it purposefully, as your people’s ezer. They need this ally help to complete the work of obeying God and living for him.

Form your vision by God’s words and ways as you walk through your days. Through prayer and reliance on him, he will be your strong helper. Like a farmer, generously plant your seeds, and trust in the Lord that the daily work of your hands will bear his fruit in his timing, because we were “made in joy and made to make things in and for joy.”**

*Sayers, Dorothy L. The Mind of the Maker. London, Methuen. 1941.

**Thompson, Curt. Men’s Retreat 2019, Laity Lodge, Leakey, TX. January 10-13, 2019.