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TURNING MOURNING INTO DANCING (An Adult Coloring Book on Grief and Healing)

Posted by John I. Penn on 28th May 2022



I am excited to present my new book, Turning Mourning into Dancing. This adult coloring book is written from a Christian point of view. It is a collaboration with a long-time friend, Wanda Parker Rains, who is a talented and gifted illustrator. This is our second book collaboration. I think you will agree her illustrations are amazing!

People everywhere are discovering the wonderful benefits of coloring, such as reducing stress, managing depression, and learning to relax. The benefits of coloring are real and therapeutic. If you don’t believe it, try it for yourself. Coloring is a stress-buster. It can lower your anxiety and reduce your blood pressure.

On April 14, 2017, my ninety-three-year-old mother, Josephine Penn, transitioned to be with the Lord. My seven siblings are also mourning her death. Grieving mom’s death has given me a new perspective on grief, loss, and the importance of doing the grief-work well. My siblings, as well as our children and grandchildren, would agree that our grief over mother’s death has been made easier because of the many years we had her in our lives.

Mom’s death is the inspiration behind the concept and creation of this book. God knew exactly what I needed to turn my sorrow into joy. God used my love of writing to meet much of my emotional, mental, and spiritual health needs. The Holy Spirit has guided the writing of the seventeen grief-related messages. This book is personal. It is designed for all who mourn in hopes of bringing healing and therapeutic benefits, which potentially turns mourning into dancing.

I included the word “playful” intentionally. In Proverbs 17:22, King Solomon reminds us of the therapeutic value of a cheerful or joyful heart: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit drains one’s strength.” Each message and illustration is intended to offer you a creative and therapeutic tool, allowing you to have fun and to play in the midst of your loss and pain, as you move towards healing and wholeness. Writing them has helped to turn my mourning into dancing.

In her article, “7 Reasons Adult Coloring Books Are Great for Your Mental, Emotional, and Intellectual Health,” psychologist Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, points out that adult coloring books offer therapeutic benefits. She further states that coloring is an alternative to meditation, both as a means of relaxation and as a calming tool. Coloring allows you to use both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Coloring allows you to get in touch with the inner child that recalls happier times when you experienced less responsibility and stress.1It is important to understand that significant loss may be a death, a long-term illness, a divorce, job loss, or a broken relationship. In this book, we bring out several facts related to grief and stress, primarily that grief is common to most people. People grieve differently and to different degrees. The more we have loved, the more we grieve.

These illustrations and messages are unique to most adult coloring books. The coloring activities and the messages related to grief in the book are intended to challenge growth and healing. Coloring is a fun way to relax, enter that quiet place within, and carve out time to do something good for yourself. Coloring allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily stresses of life.

You owe it to yourself to live a stress-free life as much as possible. The activity of coloring allows you to get in touch with your inner conflict of pain and loss, giving yourself permission to play and tap into your creativity.

The Bible reminds us that sorrow doesn’t last always. The psalmist confirms the idea that God’s favor can transform sorrow into joy: “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5b NKJV).

The prophet Jeremiah remands Israel and us, of God’s unfailing love and providential care—exchanging our disappointments, heart-aches and sorrows; turning our mourning into joy and dancing (Jeremiah 31:1ff).

This book is not for those suffering from clinical depression. If you are suffering from long-term stress and depression, you should seek help from your personal physician.

I hope that this adult coloring book will do for you what it has done for me, turning your sorrows into joy and set your feet, as well as your soul to dancing. It is personally dedicated to my seven siblings, as well as all those who mourn.