By Jenny Fulton
It begins deep within the heart of the artist.
There is a whisper, an idea; it stems from the spiritual depth of a being.
It is a voice yearning to be expressed.
For as long as I can remember, storytelling has been a part of me. When I was no more than four-years-old, I would draw pictures that had very detailed storylines.
“Come hewoo, Mommy,” I’d say. “Look at my pictoow. Look at what’s happening!”
Mommy would come, pencil in hand, ready to patiently dictate the story she knew I was about to tell her.
“The smoke is puffing up. The lightening is flashing. A tornado came up and make the smoke even higher. A flash of lightening filled the sky. The little girl was in her playhouse. She was frightened. Then she benembold [remembered] that Jesus was taking care of her. She knew that Jesus was by her even though she could not see Him. Then the storm went away because Jesus, said, ‘Quiet down storm, the little girl is frightened.’ So the storm quieted down and so the little girl smiled. The little girl’s name was Jenny.”
My head was full of words and stories that couldn’t seem to be contained, whether that release came by means of paper and pencil, or through playing pretend.
I certainly wasn’t the only creative in our house.
Some form of cross-stitch would usually be lying within reach of my mom’s hand. Sometimes she’d get out her autoharp and sing. She taught us to sing and harmonize with her.
My dad would often be working on some craft or other. Sometimes it was a piece of wood or leather that he chiseled and worked designs into. Sometimes it was beadwork or jewelry that took shape under his artisan hands. My favorite times were when he’d get out his banjo or guitar and play away in answer to some melody that danced through his heart and flowed out through his spirit by means of the notes played upon strings.
I loved those times of singing or listening to the music, loved how my soul seemed to soar and connect in joy with God.
As I grew older, my love for both music and writing grew. I learned how to play the guitar so I could sing and enjoy its sound anytime I wanted.
I wrote because, I couldn’t keep from doing so.
A universe waiting to be explored but lacking a vehicle to take me there
Until my fingers picked up the pen and unlocked my unspoken soul
I was known, throughout my school days, as the quiet one. Parent-teacher conferences would generally include some version of, “Jenny is a great student, but I just wish she would speak up more in class.”
At some point, I realized that I didn’t want to speak up unless I knew exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. Socially, I was the same way. My mind would play out a million options for the conversation and analyze each possibility, along with the potential outcomes. By the time it settled on one it deemed “safe,” the real conversation had already moved on.
Everything was different when I was alone and could pick up a beautiful, blank sheet of paper. My fingers would reach down, pick up the pen, and say for me on paper what I could never seem to say in person. Thoughts that were too numerous and too complicated to understand suddenly came pouring out through my fingers. Things that didn’t make sense in my brain suddenly made sense on paper. My spirit was given full, unhindered access as it raced through the pen and revealed itself in visible words.
In these moments, I was free.
My thoughts were known.
My spirit was given a voice.
I have believed in and followed God since I was very young – at least 5-years-old, if not younger, if my early stories are any indication. As I grew, I did the things good Christians are told to do: I prayed and read my Bible regularly. While those practices are good and they helped me grow in my relationship with and knowledge of God, it was those moments of immersing myself in music or writing that made me feel the most connected to Him.
As Laura Bartnick writes in her book, Welcome to the Shivoo,
In the beginning, God revealed Himself by creating. Apparently, this was His heart’s desire.
When I create, when we create from a Heart that loved us, we connect to this Heart in a strong, almost tangible way, as two beings whose camaraderie is strengthened by partaking in the joy of creation. We call this creativity, this similar activity. And, God’s Word says He created humanity in His own image. We are creatives because He is the Creative.
Like all other creatives, this is where my journey as a creative began. In the beginning, created in the image of God.
Little did I know where or how God would use my gifts in the future.
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.