So, to answer some of these questions, below are a few of my favorite recommendations...
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Further Historical Diggings
While I focus on art and art history, I am by no means a historical scholar. Thankfully, other believers through the ages, whom God has blessed with historical insight, have recorded their findings. Besides the Bible, three of the books that really helped develop the biblically-based timelines for The Master and His Apprentices are Ussher’s The Annals of the World, Down’s Unwrapping the Pharaohs, and Jones’s The Chronology of the Old Testament. These books won’t be for everyone, as they can be quite technical. Nevertheless, for anyone interested in diving further into biblical history and chronology, these are highly recommended. Unwrapping the Pharaohs, in particular, is a great place to start.
Appreciating God’s Art
God’s art is all around us — whether looking at nature, pets, or even ourselves. Fortunately, the amazing details He designed are things we can appreciate (and praise Him for) every day of our lives. One great way to see His work more fully is by visiting local, state, and national parks. However, sometimes we want to see more than just what is in our small corner of the world. Over the years, the international photography of Christian photographer Ric Ergenbright has greatly inspired me. Furthermore, as mentioned in The Master and His Apprentices, the Grand Canyon played a pivotal role in my development of a Christian worldview. Therefore, I also recommend Vail’s Grand Canyon: A Different View.
Cultivating Creativity in Children
Believe it or not, one of the very best ways I can think of to cultivate creativity in children is through the classic building block Lego. Perhaps this is because Lego played such a large role in my own creative development, but also because I have seen these “toys” positively impact many other children. Today, Lego primarily sells themed sets which can be great for learning spatial reasoning skills. Nevertheless, I believe free building is ultimately the best way to develop creative skills with this medium. So, have fun building with your children and encourage them to build different things –- be it food or animals -– from the bricks they have. You might be surprised at what they come up with!
Supplies for the Budding Artist
There are hundreds of different art mediums and brands available on the market today. I am no expert on which are “best,” but I can tell you about three that I find especially helpful. These are basic tools — but ones we often overlook! For instance, the C-Thru Ruler is an excellent way to simplify incorporating straight lines into work by allowing artists to see the drawing underneath. Prismacolor’s colorless blender is an essential tool, for me, when drawing photorealistic portraits in colored pencil, as it really helps create a blended “painterly” quality. The kneaded eraser works similarly for graphite drawings by creating subtle value changes that really make a picture “pop.”
Digging Into the Word
When it comes to studying the Word, the Bible is obviously the only essential. Nevertheless, there are some tools I have found to be very beneficial. With BlueLetterBible.org, for instance, you can quickly dig deeper into the Word by comparing different versions or even the original Greek and Hebrew. More than just knowing the Word, though, we need to apply it to our lives. Ultimately, the goal is to know Jesus personally and learn to commune more intimately with Him. The Saturation Bible Study tools at deeperChristian.com have been instrumental in personally drawing me closer to the Master.
Receiving Inspiration from Others
As a Christian, the Bible is my lifeline to a deeper relationship with the Creator. However, I am also greatly inspired by the writings of Christians whose stories challenge me to shun mediocrity and strive for a higher purpose. In high school, Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ and Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place taught me what it really means to identify with Christ. Since then, other biographies on persons like Amy Carmichael and Esther Ahn Kim have challenged me further. In addition, C.S. Lewis’s fictional Screwtape Letters and Elizabeth Prentice’s Stepping Heavenward are two books I keep coming back to. For one, they remind me that we are fighting a battle “not against flesh and blood.” On the other hand, they demonstrate that even “mundane” daily decisions, when made for His glory, can help advance the Kingdom.
Obviously, there are a lot of other “recommendations” I would love to give. There just wasn’t room to include things like chocolate, British classics, or playing beanbags at the beach. 🙂 Seriously though, I hope the above recommendations are helpful for your family. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you!
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