I like to think of myself as a talespinner to the lost, the loved, and the found. My stories reveal a lot about love and relationships—love between people, and the perfect love of our Creator.
I think most folks own a creativity gene, but each of our methods of deployment and gifts are various. Both of my sisters carry the I-see-color gene, with perfect blending of hues and shades. My little sister paints with lines of color as fine and delicate as an eyelash, while my older sister clips and shapes minute swipes of cloth, picks up needle and thread, and joins the fabric together in a glorious sea of quilts.
I suspect, had I asked Dad for the same woodworking lessons taught to my brother, he might have reminded me I needed all of my fingers for piano playing. My power equipment dossier is limited to a power drill, a Dremel, and the 1940's cast iron sewing machine bequeathed to me decades ago.
One of the genes my Creator slipped into my being encourages me to put pen to paper. Instead of paint and canvas, He gives me words to render the rising of the sun while the moon still rests in the awakening sky, and adjectives to describe the blending and contrasts of a prism’s rainbow. He tenders verbs to awaken the heart of my characters and make them so real, I regret when they’ve breathed their last, or a final scene completes their story. To paraphrase the words of the 1924 Olympian and missionary, Eric Liddell, God gave me words, and when I write, I feel his pleasure.
My hands, too, have a creative mission. Something in the art of basket weaving reached deep inside and grabbed hold of me. I love taking the sturdy, dry reed, rendering it soft and pliable, and reshaping it into a useable form. Some years ago, I served as an instructor with the Creative Arts Program offered at The Ohio State University. I loved teaching, guiding unfamiliar hands from the base of a basket to its lashed rims. I like to think each student found a glimmer of comfort, satisfaction, and pride in her own piece.
Weaving’s greatest gift comes in the form of friendship. Basket weaving seems to draw a flock of gentle, loving, and generous people who have an uncanny ability to know when it’s time to talk, listen, be silly, encourage, laugh, or cry. In the midst of fellowship and sampling liberal amounts of food, a steady stream of lovely baskets emerge.
Whether you find yourself lost between the pages of one of my stories, or stepping through instructions to create one of my baskets, I hope you find pleasure in the undertaking, and a glimpse of our Father in the offering.
VALERIE BANFIELD is a talespinner to the lost, the loved, and the found. When she isn't making up stories, she might be found tangled in a basket weaving project, with a book in her hands, or maybe walking the dog.
She is the author of eleven novels, co-author of three West Virginia-themed tales, and recipient of the Cascade Award for Historical Fiction.
She counts her participation in international short-term missionary campaigns among her life’s most blessed and humbling journeys, and firmly believes that when we give our Father control, He rocks our world.
In the course of writing about West Virginia, the hills and hollows beckoned her, so she uprooted her tent stakes and planted them in the Mountain State’s red clay soil. Right now, she’s pretty sure she’s home.