The Lion's Mane
By Holly C. Wyse

This past year, I became the lead character in my book.

My book, The Restoration of Emma Carmichael, was a labour of love birthed out of a long time dream of writing a novel. For awhile, I had a desire to write a different story for women’s Christian fiction. I was tired of the Amish and historical fiction books being written. I was also vexed that the stories seemed superficial and characters always decided to trust God at the end of the book—we seldom saw characters wrestle through their faith. I wanted to write about the wrestle that happens in a person’s walk with Christ and the unique way that God heals our hearts—often times in ways unexpected.

When I was creating my story, I was reading Shannon Moroney’s biography on restorative justice. In the book, she described how art therapy helped her heal through the grief of having a husband who had harmed women. When I looked at her art, I instantly knew that my character, Emma Carmichael, would use art to find her voice. Art therapy isn’t for people who are good at art. It’s for people who need a way to express things using something other than words. Since my character struggled in that area, it was a perfect fit.

Emma hits a life crisis and goes into a tailspin. She stumbles about in her life choices and is bolstered by the love of family and friends. She is forced to confront aspects of her life that she would like to forget. And she is dragged into an art class that ultimately gives her a way to express her hurt and pain.

This past year, my life hit the skids. I stumbled about in life choices, while being held together by friends and family. I have been forced to confront aspects of my past that I thought were long gone. And I joined an expressive arts therapy class because I desperately needed a way to cope with the overwhelming amount of pain my heart could not handle.

I have heard of life imitating art but this was ridiculous.

Or maybe it was Divine.

Maybe God, in His kindness, knew what was coming and prepared me for it. Maybe God in His wisdom planted a seed in my heart about expressive arts therapy for the moment when I was too broken to know what to do next. Too confused to make decisions, I easily recognized His hand of Providence when I was invited to attend the expressive arts class.

The classes helped me to see that even though I was broken, I would be made whole.

In one of my first art classes, we had to write down a problem and then toss it into a candle flame saying, “I let go of this.” Afterwards, we were to create a picture of the fire that reduced the problem to ashes. You can see what I created at the bottom of this blog post. I call it The Lion’s Mane.

The fire I saw were flames that looked like a lion’s mane. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. Jesus is my fire.

After attending the class for six months, God started to nudge me in a new direction. I created a journey called 48 Emotions. It’s a social experiment that has my blog readers and I engaging in living intentionally and creating art around one particular emotion a week. It’s a challenge to live fully and to encounter Christ in each emotion.

I am currently in the process of creating online courses and workshops to equip churches and small groups. I am taking classes to further my skills and understanding of expressive art therapy.

When I wrote The Restoration of Emma Carmichael, I thought God was leading me into a career of becoming an author. It may still include that. But suddenly, my vision of how I can bind up the broken hearted around me is much bigger than writing one story—it is now about helping others to heal and tell their story using expressive arts.

About this Contributor:

Holly C. Wyse traded her days as a television producer to become a homeschooling mama to her three children. She is small-town proud, addicted to the library, and loves to use her Vitamix. She lives with her family in southern Alberta, where the winds wreaks havoc with her hair. Her first book, The Restoration of Emma Carmichael, won the Word Alive Press Free Publishing Fiction award in 2012.

She can be contacted at

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