A Life Story
Zayin Hope is probably best understood as my own life story in color using mainly symbol-based art. I’ve long been fascinated by symbol but denied myself any real cultivation of that curiosity. I also have a strong fascination with culture and how we humans create and share meaning across our lives. Zayin Hope is both my explorer and creator working together to ask questions and create my own contribution to this nebulous thing societies and academics call "culture."
Just as a side bar, The Cultural Ayin is the outcropping of conversation within Zayin Hope toward the greater Bride of Christ community. It's where I take all the musing, the iconography, the academic reading, and story telling, and create a conversation to help others shape culture in their own unique design. I guess you could call it, "Kingdom Consulting." As a result, Zayin Hope and The Cultural Ayin go together as partners in this cultural exploring and creating kind of lifestyle.
Zayin Hope houses strictly the art side of this creating and exploring.
A Story: About the Name
Like everything else, the name Zayin Hope has layers. I'm a symbols girl. I'm the type that is usually reading between the lines, feeling everyone else's chaos, and trying to find some way to be a peace maker and a bridge builder. I am a person who experiences dreams and visions so much of the spiritual is in the unseen places while viewing the seen places. I have felt for awhile there was something more than just getting up and going to a job and coming home in some endless cycle. Who and what again was a I living for? I began to pray because I couldn't keep myself from believing there had to be something more to the ho-hum of life that seemed more about making ends meet than finding some sense of deeper meaning and purpose. In a complicated situation, a life in some turmoil, the name Zayin Hope was revealed.
I am forever learning the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, including understanding Hebrew language, concepts, and interpretive processes so when in prayer I heard the word Zayin, I reached to understand such an odd suggestion.
Why was it odd? The word Zayin is an alphabet letter or word. It would be like saying, "call the ministry 'A' Hope" (as in A, B, C, D etc.). Unlike English though, Hebrew letters have pictures and layers associated with them. This fits with the symbolic and layered way God has universally approached me in most aspects of our relationship. He is the ultimate storyteller using images and symbols that have specific meaning found in the Word of God and defined by Him.
Zayin has an alphabet meaning, a number meaning, and for some people a mystical meaning. It was chosen because I work in the creation of pictures to engage both the eyes and the ears at the same time and it all comes in layers and symbols. To understand Zayin Hope is to understand its name.
A short summary: Zayin Hope seeks to bring fullness, completion, and understanding of God's word and times and seasons to the Bride of Christ through the lens of love and creativity. This is expressed through The Cultural Ayin.
If you like reading though, below are the particulars to Zayin and how it became the name of my God-creative space.
Zayin as the Number 7
"By the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."
Genesis 2:2 (NIV)
The Hebrew alphabet also has numbers affiliated with the letters. In this case, Zayin is the 7th letter in the aleph-bet (this is the Hebrew word for alphabet). Looking at numbers from the Bible's perspective, it can become rather clear that numbers have Biblical value and meaning. For instance, the number 7 in Genesis 1 is the day that God rested. As a result the number 7 is associated with being complete, whole, as well as rest. Jewish tradition also sees the symbolic meaning of 7 in this way.
Because Zayin Hope is the artistic and creative foundation, Zayin as 7 touches doing things positioned from a place of rest and empowerment in Him and by Him (and for Him). Also, the concepts of "complete" and "whole" are what I lean into for the creative side. I desire a complete and whole foundation in my life but also I desire these things for towns, cities, regions, and nations. A solid foundation is desirable, and needed, to live in a world that seems overwhelming and overwhelmed. That completion, that wholeness, is found in Jesus - the cornerstone, and rock in my life.
In painting or doing things creatively, I seek out those pieces that bring completion, wholeness, and rest.
Zayin can also have symbolic meaning for time or something that divides time. The word itself can mean "cut" and in our case, time is cut into weeks, months, years, and seasons. Zayin's picture in ancient Hebrew looks a bit like an axe or sword as the word picture itself represents a "weapon" and thus derives its meaning as "weapon."
A lot of the artwork I do is actually tied to seasons and times. He has something to say in His seasons to all people.
Additionally, there are other "7s" found in the Bible. For instance, the Menorah has 7 branches. The center can be seen as Christ with the Holy Spirit upon Him igniting the six spirits mentioned in Isaiah 11:1-3 (e.g. the spirits of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, might, and fear of the Lord). I tend to see the 7 spirits of the Lord from Revelation as the mind of Christ. The book of Revelation is loaded with "7s."
In this aspect, the Holy Spirit often uses art to explain things to me. All artwork is part of His vision.
This aspect of 7 also involves sharing my own witness. I do discuss the things I have found enlightening and challenging through art as much as I seek to apply the artwork to larger and greater areas of my sphere of living.
Zayin as a Weapon
As you can see, Zayin has layers. Another layer of Zayin means "weapon" or "sword." The ancient Hebrew picture looks a bit like an axe. It can also mean "to cut" or "to pierce." Dr. Seekins reports the Hebrew picture for Zayin means "The weapon the hand moves" (pg. 228).
The root "zan" of Zayin has an unusual twist. Accord to J. Parsons, Zan can mean "nourishment" which is odd indeed. My best understanding is because Zan was represented as an agricultural implement kinda of representing a plow it would be affiliated with food. But if we think of the sword of the Spirit - the word of God - as our bread, perhaps this concept isn't entirely foreign as a picture for "man does not live by bread alone" (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).
In this layer of Zayin, Zayin represents a weapon - for Zayin Hope the sword of truth. Zayin Hope is rooted in the faithful promise of God's Word to His people both spoken and written. Zayin as a weapon of truth also means using the mind of Christ as our weapon to overcome the trials in life and the enemy of our souls..
Zayin as a Picture of Christ
Probably my most favorite part of symbol layers is this one. This very important layer of the meaning of Zayin is it can represent the Messiah. What I have learned is the letter Vav, which is the number 6 which represents man, also represents a tent peg or a divine hook. Vav can also represent the Messiah as the one who is the "divine" hook between God the Father and His people. Zayin is a crowned Vav which can represent the overcoming Jesus seated in heavenly places next to the Father. When Zayin is combined with its meaning as "sword," Zayin emerges as a picture of the Messiah, led by the Holy Spirit, disarming principalities and redeeming mankind as the Word of God.
Putting the Pieces Together
From different perspectives I've shared a snap-shot of the concept of Zayin as multi-layered. Zayin Hope looks toward the completion, fullness, and manifestation of the Father's heart and will in the earth. Zayin Hope is geared toward legacy retrieval and creation.
Understanding Zayin as a sword and as food, the Word of God enters on the scene. Zayin Hope paints and creates images from the Scriptures to edify, encourage, and educate about "righteous ruling" in the earth (e.g. reform, love, & holiness). Zayin Hope is about bringing the full manifestation of reform God's way into the earth (e.g. "Let thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." - Matthew 6:10).
Understanding Zayin as a picture of Messiah - the crowned man - who is the Word and wields the Word - that is the sword of the Spirit - Zayin Hope is geared toward equipping the Bride of Christ in Messiah's image and likeness so we also "...bring good news to the humble and afflicted;... bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, ... proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord..." (Isaiah 61:1-2, AMP).
Part of this mission is bringing wholeness and thus transformation to our lives by realizing that we are the church. Church is not some place we go but rather we are the church at home, at work, at the store, etc.
Zayin Hope does all of this at the behest of God's call empowered by His Spirit as Christ lived. To see each believer, is to see the bridegroom. To see the bridegroom is to see the Father. We bear His image and likeness. We should not snuff that out in our lives.
Zayin + Hope = Beauty for Ashes
Now that Zayin is a bit established, what about the Hope part? Zayin Hope for me was and is the hope of a new beginning. In my own Jesus journey, things haven't always been nice and tidy. Sometimes life and those circumstances that seem to make up this thing called life, have been messy. There have been moments where all I could seemingly hear is the sound of a toilet flushing . Oh, yah, that's my life, right down the proverbial toilet.
For a really long time I needed some hope, because my hope was largely stolen through a series of life events that left me reeling and wondering if I was just washed up or washed out. Could God even "use" me anymore. Of course, "use" is truly an awful word. I can't say God actually "uses" people and then puts them away like some kind of robot or dirty, spent, rag.
I received the name Zayin Hope at another critical juncture in my own life. I received it when I actually needed full hope (Zayin = 7 = full). I also received it when I needed complete hope (Zayin = 7 = complete). Ultimately, my hope is found only in one place; Messiah. When life is overwhelmingly complex and there are no easy or even simple answers, Jesus is the place I turn.
The kind of hope the Holy Spirit brings is an equipping and enduring kind of hope. It's love hope. It's the kind of substantive hope that endures dark trials and actually can still enjoy some of life. It's the kind of eternal essence that binds faith, hope, and love as a triple-braided cord that cannot be broken.
I've needed a full, Christ like hope; a Christ like hope of glory hope for me, for you, and for us.
Zayin Hope is largely centered on art and creating a number of things for the cheesy grin of glorifying God. As part of that, the art launches into the The Cultural Ayin section of the website because everything I do with God involves teaching through the testimony of Jesus. As a result, Zayin Hope is always attempting to bring to fullness the HOPE God has for all of us. He hopes none would perish. He hopes we would come to know His absolute and unconditional love for us. He hopes we would know He is good no matter how warped things look or when people simply behave in a way contrary to His name, character, and ways. We so often blame Him when we behave wrongly toward each other and even Him. The Cultural Ayin rests on the fullness, the completeness, the wholeness of His faithfulness; His hope. Why? It is to bring hope to the nations (e.g. you and me) and to encourage that we have reasons to hope and to act from that hope.
Citations & Notes
 Some people call those who have dreams and visions Seers. A seer is in the Bible. We often think of seers as a witchcraft, new age sort of title. If you check out 1 Samuel 9:9 you will find the word seer. In Hebrew it is chozeh and literally means "a beholder in vision." I have seen it also translated as "stargazer." If you are interested in learning more, James Goll has an excellent book titled, "The Seer." It is not the only title out there but it is a place to begin.
Goll, J. (2012). The Seer Expanded Edition: The Prophetic Power of Visions , Dreams and Open Heavens." Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. Available at Amazon by clicking here.
 Some of this may be heavily symbolic and very foreign to people. This is not to be confused with numerology in the occult, but rather an understanding found in Jewish traditions and the Bible.
 This information was gleaned from a number of resources. The following are a small but highly recommended sampling.
Parsons, J. (Retrieved November, 2016). “The Letter Zayin.” The Letter Zayin, The Hebrew for Christian's website (www.hebrew4christians.com) offers free lessons on learning Hebrew. This article is from his explanation of the word Zayin in the aleph-bet section. This website is so amazing I have it bookmarked in Circles of Community. If you can help support his ministry, please do.
Seekins, F. (2012). Hebrew Word Pictures: How Does the Hebrew Alphabet Reveal Prophetic Truths? Scottsdale, AZ: Hebrew World Inc. - Hebrew Heart Media. You can purchase this book at amazon.
Milligan, I. (2012). The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Dreams you Dream: Biblical Keys for Hearing God's Voice in the Night. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. You can purchase this book at amazon.
 ,  Seekins, F. (2012). Hebrew Word Pictures: How Does the Hebrew Alphabet Reveal Prophetic Truths? Scottsdale, AZ: Hebrew World Inc. - Hebrew Heart Media.
 Parsons, J. (Retrieved November, 2016). “The Letter Zayin.” The Letter Zayin, The Hebrew for Christian's website (www.hebrew4christians.com) offers free lessons on learning Hebrew.
 I stumbled on a completely wonderful and interesting lexicon for the ancient Hebrew that used the ancient pictographic version of scripture. This book detailed the Hebrew symbol for Zan as an agricultural instrument. The author has an informative website at: http://ahlb.ancient-hebrew.org/
Brenner, J.A. (2005). Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible: Hebrew Letters, Words and Roots Defined Within Their Ancient Cultural Context. College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, Inc.
 Hebrews 4:12 (AMP) states: "For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart." I used to think the word "word" meant the written word which is a typical understanding for the Greek word "logos." In other words, the written Bible is sharper, etc. In this context however, it's more about the mind or reasoning. You could literally argue the passage could read, "The mind of God is living...." or "The reasoning of God..." Because it is the Word, and Jesus is the Word, you can at least associate the passage with the mind of Christ. Thayer's Greek Lexicon states: "1. reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, calculating, etc.: once so in the phrase ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ, of the divine mind, pervading and noting all things by its proper force, Hebrews 4:12." I got this from Blue Letter Bible (see blueletterbible.org here.). The Word of God is literally Jesus.
 John Parsons has a similar view in engaging the symbolic meaning of Christ and the Aleph-bet letter Zayin.
Parsons, J. (Retrieved November, 2016). “The Letter Zayin.” The Letter Zayin, The Hebrew for Christian's website (www.hebrew4christians.com) offers free lessons on learning Hebrew.
 Righteous ruling is a term the Holy Spirit uses when He talks about properly living in the Kingdom. It isn't to be mistaken with political ruling in the sense we have today, but rather the type of ruling authority and power found in Genesis 1. Righteous ruling involves stewarding the planet and loving God and each other as part of just living. It means to do what is in keeping with the Kingdom in all that we do. It is not bossing people around, lording over people, etc.
**Photo of puzzle pieces from rawpixels on Unsplash. The Zayin photo in the puzzle pieces is from Zayin Hope.
**Photo of Bible used for the scripture verse is from Aaron Burden on Unsplash.