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restore-my-soul-coverThe thought of taking markers, pencil crayons or crayons and colouring a picture manifested flashbacks of elementary school report cards: “Robert must learn to colour within the lines.”

I quickly learned, however, that Restore My Soul: a coloring book Devotional Journey is more about colouring as a spiritual exercise than it is about staying within the lines.

Restore My Soul combines two passions of its creator, Montreal author – and now illustrator – Ann-Margret Hovsepian. In 2006, Hovsepian was part of the team, as editor and conceptual designer, that created Blossom: The Complete New Testament for Girls Biblezine. The success of that project led to three devotionals for teenage girls: The One Year Designer Genes Devo, Truth & Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Girls and Truth, Dare, Double Dare: Another Year of Dynamic Devotions for Girls.

In the meantime, Hovsepian continued to doodle, something she began as a child and writes about in the introduction to Restore My Soul: “When I didn’t have my nose shoved into a book, I drew and doodled and lettered and colored,” She stopped drawing, unless it was for a school assignment or when she was bored. “I still didn’t take art seriously until I started sharing my occasional doodles with friends, who responded with enthusiasm.”

I created Restore My Soul not only to encourage you to fearlessly enjoy coloring again but also to invite you to take a fresh look at your relationship with God… (Ann-Margret Hovsepian)

Those friends, she writes in her blog, “encouraged (me) to get serious about doodling – one of my many hobbies.” But she didn’t want to create just another colouring book. The idea of pairing a devotional with an illustration, and making the act of colouring a spiritual exercise, caught the attention of Tyndale House Publishers.

“I created Restore My Soul not only to encourage you to fearlessly enjoy coloring again but also to invite you to take a fresh look at your relationship with God – or consider the possibility of a relationship if you don’t already know Him personally,” she writes. “My desire is for your soul to be restored as you draw near to Him through the Bible verses, the meditations, the prayer prompts, and, of course, the quiet times you will spend working on the coloring pages.”restore-my-soul-compass

Hovsepian’s drawings range from pictoral depictions, such as the compass on the right (which was the first drawing I coloured). to abstracts. There’s something for everyone, both in the devotional messages and prompts and in the illustrations.

What’s attractive about Restore My Soul is that you don’t have to start at the beginning and work your way to the end. Each devotional and illustration pairing stands on their own, allowing the reader to choose a topic or picture depending on their own spiritual needs.

One piece of advice Hovsepian does offer is: “read the devotional before colouring.” The scripture verse(s), devotional and prompts will provide you with enough spiritual fodder to chew on while colouring. And what’s interesting is, if you’re anything like me, it may take more than one colouring session to complete the drawing. And you may find yourself meditating on an element of the devotional completely different than you did the first time.

As for colouring outside the lines? I don’t worry about it as much any more.


For more about Ann-Margret Hovsepian check http://www.annhovsepian.com/

Listen to an Arts Connection interview with Ann-Margret Hovsepian on Monday, October 10 at 9 p.m. ET on 94.3 Faith FM or the simultaneous webcast at http://www.faithfm.org