Calling Out the Dead

 I am always trying to build a lifestyle that includes creativity from how I set up our home to how I spend my free time. A creative lifestyle is to live how we were created to live. We are created in the Image of God and in His likeness, which includes being creative (I doubt I need to list all the ways God is creative!) This is who we were intended to be, but as we know everything fell apart with a single bite in a garden. Since that moment, God put his agenda into action to redeem every facet of brokenness through Jesus.

“The gospel re-creates all of you so that every part of you–including your creativity–is from Christ, through Christ, and to Christ. The gospel retunes your creativity to sing his grace. It re-creates your creativity so that it can finally do what he made it to do–bring him glory, forever.”Thomas Terry and Ryan Lister, The Gospel Coalition (click link for full article)

When we live creative lives, we live out another facet of our redemption through our Savior. When we exercise creativity, we reflect redemption. We find freedom and glimpses of the Paradise that was lost and the eternal Paradise to come. Through our creativity we can worship and commune with the Genius of all creativity. In this, we truly live.

“The trumpet of imagination is like the trumpet of the resurrection. It calls the dead out of their graves.” –G.K Chesterton

And true life is what this dead world is aching for.

“…There will be the irresistible attraction of the beauty of holy-love, showing what life in the presence of God really is–life as it was meant to be lived. This cannot but attract the human heart since a deep desire remains in us to be all we were meant to be.”–Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted to God. 

A lifestyle of creativity is not just for the ‘artsy types’ or the ‘hipsters’ or the ‘millennials’ or for ‘creative types’. It’s for anyone who has been redeemed by Christ. It is for every ‘reborn type’ and ‘new creation in Him type’. It’s for me and for you, dear Christian. This Lifestyle is for us.

My hope is that through this year-long Project of Creative Living you have been inspired to adopt this lifestyle. My you find inspiration and fulfillment in that. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

 

 

Advertisements

The Fallacy

“I’m not a creative person.”

I have heard this a lot. To which I always ask, “Why do you think you’re not a creative person?”

“Well, I can’t draw or paint, or write…”

Ah! Raise your hand if you believe this. Yep, it’s common.

Fallacy #1: Creative Expression is Limited

And usually to the most common forms of art: visual and performing arts, and the written word.

Why is that? Is it because those mediums actually have the word art in their titles?

Is it because those creative expressions are celebrated most in our culture as artistic?

Something to ponder. And while you do, I would like to tear apart this fallacy and look at those common limitations:

  1. Certain creative expressions are only for children (agism here!) like coloring
  2. Certain creative expressions are gender- specific (sexism here!) like crafts and tattooing
  3. Certain creative expressions are only for certain artsy-type people (stereotypes here!)

I want to argue against Fallacy #1 by saying I don’t believe creative expression has limitations! To prove it is this blog, this year-long project that is now culminating to a close: Project Creative Living.

Never Say No to the Muse

Facebook.

It has its virtues and vices. I’m not a huge social media junkie, but I like to check in. I “like” pictures of my friend’s kids at the beach, and comment with heart-eyes emojis when my talented sister-in-law posts her photography shoots. Sometimes I indulge in a MagiQuiz to find out how many Disney villains I know.

I never participate in debates, especially about politics or parenting.

BUT–

There was one FB post-turned-debate that was the catalyst for this blog. A friend reposted an ad for an adult coloring class at the library. (Adult meaning for adults–not meaning inappropriate for kids). The comments were mixed:

“Coloring is for children” or “what a waste of time” or “who would go to this?”

My response?

“I could write a lot about the value of creative expression and finding community in that.”

To which my Muse asked me, “Why don’t you?”

So here I am.

This Project will be 12 months long, wherein I’ll interview people who live out creative expression, and chronicle creative endeavors in my own life and in the lives of others.

I hope this is inspiring. I hope this challenges thinking. I hope this renews our minds. I hope this debunks some common fallacies about creativity. I hope this builds community.

If nothing else, this blog will challenge me to put my money where my mouth is…

Thanks to a Facebook post.

The Art of Gathering

In January our Word was Gathering and our creative expression was Culinary Arts or Food!

Thank yous to our Spotlights Naughty Oak Brewing Company, personal chef Ashley Enriquez, and gourmet cupcake baker Jenna Mason. Also thanks to our home chefs who contributed great recipes: homeschooler/photographer Mallory Drazin and actress/mom Erin Drazin.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 3.12.49 PM

The importance of meals goes beyond the basic function of nourishing our bodies. Meals can build community, foster relationships, and develop routine rest. For some of us, sitting down to a meal is the only time of day when we actually sit down. We’re forced to take an intentional break from moving. It may be the only time of the day when individuals gather together at the same place at the same time to enjoy something they have in common: the food they’re all eating together. Gathering for a meal opens opportunity to talk and have relationship.

Most socializing happens around the table. Couples go out to eat when they’re dating. Families invite others over for a meal to get to know them better. Churches host bar-b-qs and potlucks to unify the congregation. Celebrations always include cake. Even Jesus used meal time to display his power (the miracle of the fives loaves and two fishes) or to have sacred conversations with his friends (the last supper) or to celebrate His victory over death (breakfast on the beach).

It’s so easy to slip into the drudgery of daily meal-making. In rough seasons of being pregnant or having a newborn or having a husband work late, it can seem like a miracle just to keep my children fed! I get burned out, I get frustrated by my picky-eaters, I dread the dinner hour, and I get too tired to clean up after.

But when I shift my perspective of meal time from it just being a chore I have to do to keep my family alive to the perspective that meal time is an opportunity to sit down, talk with my family, and build our little community, the drudgery starts to evaporate. I remind myself not to gauge the success of a meal on whether their plates were licked clean, but rather on the laughter and conversations that happened as we all sat down at the same time together.

It’s not the recipe that makes the meal time great–it’s the gathering that meal time creates.

The chore I dreaded for so long, I have come to find out is actually a gift…It will never be the dinner itself that makes it matter. It’s that beautiful thing that happens when everyone lingers at the table even though the meal is over.–Joanna Gaines

 

Balance of Beauty

IMG_1944I was raised by a mom who wore no makeup, used zero hair products (except shampoo), and wore a basic wardrobe. (She did like her jewelry, surprisingly). She viewed her no-fuss approach to her appearance as a virtue; but later I came to recognize deep-rooted insecurities she harbored about her outward and inward make-up. Rather than take risks and exercise creativity with her appearance, she played it safe and used scriptures like Proverbs 31 to justify her insecurity as virtue.

Now, there were some pros to being raised by a mom who was not vain. My sister and I were told we were pretty just the way God made us. We didn’t get caught up by superficial pursuits of beauty in our teenage years.

But for awhile I wrestled with fashion and beauty in general. I had an innate interest in all things pretty, but I felt these areas were taboo. I feared that if I started wearing mascara or got a curling iron or splurged on an outfit, I would be in danger of vanity, pride, addiction–namely, sin. If it took me more than 15 minutes to get ready in the morning then surely I was too obsessed with my looks.

So for awhile I went the ‘tom-boy’ route. The funny thing about that is I put just as much thought and effort into dressing ‘simple’ as I would have into dressing feminine. I was IMG_1943still uncomfortable and insecure because I wasn’t fully expressing my true self. Everyone has to dress ever day, and whether intentionally or unintentionally, our outward appearance reflects our inward state of being. Once I made this connection, I realized there was nothing wrong about using my outward appearance to exercise my inward creativity and joy and preferences.

As I grew into womanhood, I slowly found freedom from this legalistic view on femininity. And of course the more I grew into myself and learned about my likes and dislikes, my fashion point of view evolved. I embraced the fun of trying a new lip color. I exercised creativity in putting outfits together. I invested in some good skin and hair products–not in vanity but to take care of my body in the same way I exercise and eat healthy things.

Interestingly, there was a correlation between my outward and inward appearance. As I stepped out of my comfort zone by wearing statement earrings or heels or trying an A-line bob haircut, I became more confident in who I was as a woman. And as I solidified my identity, I was more game for changing up my look.

There is a constant check not to let my outward identity be the only validation for my inward identity. There is a balance between taking pride in how I put myself together and not letting fashion and the pursuit of outward beauty consume me. There is a fascinating tension there. But there is that tension in every aspect of life. And within that middle tension is found something life-giving: freedom.

 

Step Up

The past few months we’ve explored lots of different creative endeavors. We’ve delved into some of the deeper more theological reasons for creativity. It’s one thing to be inspired by others. It’s one thing to understand and agree on the importance and value of creativity. And it’s quite another thing to actually put it into practice.

Creativity takes initiative. Yes, sometimes inspiration hits us out of no where. Sometimes ideas land right in our lap. But in order for those ideas to come to fruition, in order for us to live out creativity, we have to take action. I’ve talked with so many people who have great ideas, but also have big excuses for why they never did anything with those ideas. In particular with writing, it seems like everyone has an “idea for a book”. People say they’ll write it when “life slows down” (which will be when?). Or when they retire (really?) Or in “another lifetime” (unrealistic). None of these excuses hold any water. Really what it comes down to is people not taking initiative to develop their creativity.

Listen, you don’t have to have every detailed figured out. You don’t have to invest a lot of money into supplies. You don’t have to declare it on Facebook. You don’t have to make it perfect or even be successful. Remember, the value is in the journey and expression as much as the product.

All you have to do is show up.

Living an Art Class Vibe

In November our Word was Initiative and our creative expression was Hand-Made crafts. I interviewed graphic designer Kyle Ahlgren.

Thank yous to Kyle and our Spotlights who shared their amazing hand-made products!

Christy Rice & Abby Palmer and their furniture refurbishing business

Jayden Yamamoto and quilling art

Nathan Burtnett and his lathed pens

Christie Dunlop and her dream-catchers and macrame

Trudy Toering and her hand-sewn dolls

Amber Lundberg and her felt ornament business

Julie Ryver and her arts & crafts

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 8.06.30 PM

From Writer to Author

I’ve been writing since I could read. I have notebooks and journals galore dating back to my early elementary years. From an early age I had no problem labeling myself as a writer.

But having the confidence to label myself an author came much later. By my late twenties I had written my Sherlock Academy series, dabbled in self-publishing, and was leading a writer’s group. Yet I couldn’t muster the nerve to call myself an author. The reason? I hadn’t really taken myself seriously as an author, so why should others?

Then a seasoned author, who also became a friend, told me to attend a big writing conference.  I had to make a choice to take writing seriously by investing time and money into it–aka going to this conference. So I sold my wedding dress to pay my way and spent three days in LA. And my life was changed. I found my tribe, I learned about the publishing industry, I heard editors and agents and authors talk about writing, and I got inspired.

From that day on, I owned being an author. I moved writing from Hobby to Profession. I invested time and money into professional development. And a funny thing happened: I got published.

Here’s the thing: while there is no guarantee to getting published, there are important steps to take if you’re wanting to pursue a writing career:

  1. Be Informed–whatever genre you write stay informed on what’s being published. Peruse Barnes & Noble, scour Amazon, read Publisher’s Weekly. You want to write a children’s book? Know who are the big names and what they’re writing. You want to write YA? Check the New York Times best-seller list or even the movie theatre list (YA books are constantly being made into movies these days!) Know what’s on trend and who’s your competition.
  2. Study the Craft–attend workshops on writing, read books on writing, follow authors’ blogs, listen to Podcast interviews of authors. You must have a firm grasp not just on on the mechanics of writing, but on the key parts of story. One of the first books I ever read was Keys to Great Writing that gives a good overview of story components. Recently I read Writing Irresistible Kid Lit that delves deeper into the nuances of writing.
  3. Understand the Publishing Industry–it’s important to know how submissions work, how the publishing world operates, what roles editors play, how agents work. Attend writing conferences because editors and agents lead workshops and speak on panels. Learn how to write a good query letter and synopsis and how to submit.
  4. Join the Tribe–there is acceptance, inspiration, and growth to be gleaned from the writing community. Tap into it. Join or start a writer’s group where you critique each other’s work. Attend conferences and workshops both large and small. If you’re writing for kids, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators asap and attend their conferences. There are chapters of SCBWI all over the world, so find one in your area and check their calendar for events.
  5. Put Yourself Out There–create social media accounts for your writer/author self. Join social media writing groups. Follow authors and agents on Twitter (the publishing industry is huge on Twitter). When you attend a workshop or conference and there’s an option for critique, pay the extra money to submit your pages for an editor or agent to critique.  Get a hold of the current Writer’s Market for up-to-date publishers and agencies to submit to. I have used the blog Literary Rambles to compile my agents list for submission.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 3.36.57 PM

Most importantly, just own it. If you’re serious about your writing, then take it seriously. Others will, too.