Years ago when we remodeled our house we took in the space in our attic and made it into a work space for art projects, my writing and the little nook I call my prayer loft. This past week I have been reorganizing the art project area of my loft. It seems to be in constant disaster with piles of stuff and not enough shelves for everything and the ever growing collection of books. I finally asked Ken to hang a curtain to separate the project area from my prayer and writing part of the loft so that I could think. I’m not really convinced that was such a great idea because now I can just close the curtain and pretend the mess isn’‘t there!
The mess behind the curtain waiting to be organized! Seriously this table was totally clear a week ago! And those red cabinets are repurposed utility room cabinets in the remodel of our attic that I've been planning to paint a calming cream color for about 5 years.
You see what I mean about not sure the curtain is such a great idea.... but I do love that peaceful prayer loft!
Notice the picture does not show the tubs of books and files on the floor underneath the table! This picture is included for those of you struggling with home organization and simplifying your life to help you feel better about yourselves:)
For the last few months, I’ve been looking for the perfect, cheap solution. Last week I managed to talk a store owner out of her large display shelf for only $109 so that I could move some of my books into that area. Once again my sweet husband hauled it up the steps and set it up for me. As I attempted to organize and group the books I was reminded of some of the lessons I have learned through them. I love to read.
I found myself fingering the books that have impacted my journey through the years. If the truth be told there are shelves of books in almost every room of our house. It would probably be better to put them all in one place. I think they call that a home library! Well, that is just too overwhelming at the moment. My new bookcase will have to do for the current storage issues. I’m sure some of you out there can relate.
There is the whole Tozer section which I’ll save for a later date as the faith lessons and challenges learned through his Biblical teaching are rich and always stirring in my heart. That will definitely be part of the “Savoring a good read” blog! There is the bottom shelf of Bible study notebooks and then there is the section of creativity books.
I remember the intentional search and study in that area of my life about 8 or 9 years ago. I felt the Lord was impressing on me to reach out to artists in our community, to minister to them spiritually. It’s easy to become isolated as an artist. And, unfortunately, the church often just doesn’t get “those artist types”. ( That would be me.) I wondered what books were out there about the soul of the Christian artist? Books to guide and inspire us. I was preparing to lead a series of workshops at our church on creativity from a spiritual perspective. I was surprised to learn how few resources were available.
Through the years a little more has been written as the church has begun to wrestle with the need to reclaim the arts for the glory of God. I began to think back on some of the truths I learned as I gathered my books together to put on the shelves. Some were missing. They will hopefully be found at some point amid the sea of books in my home! One of my favorites that I’ve yet to uncover is “Walking on Water” by Madeline L’Engle. It was the first “aritist” book I read in my research and is full of wonderful insight and challenges. I highly recommend it if your looking for a “good read.”
I remember this one quote from her that I wrote down to save.
“Artists draw people to Christ by...showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. If our lives are truly ‘hid with Christ in God,’ the astounding thing is that this hiddenness is revealed in all that we do and say and write.”
I gathered some of my favorite books on art before finding their place on my new bookshelf. I suppose if I had to choose one that impacted me the most on of the purpose of art and creativity it would be “Scribbling in the Sand” by Michael Card.....
or “Windows of the Soul” by Ken Gire.
It’s too hard to choose.
I remember when the desire to make pottery first hit me. I had never considered it before. I’m a musician. That has been the primary focus of my creative life and my career. But, one night years ago I went to a home art show of a local Christian artist and saw the most beautiful, pieces of pottery. The beauty and grace in them touched me in a deep place, unlike any pottery I had ever seen before. I just had to learn how to make them. God was about to take me on a creative road trip out of the rut I was in. Sometimes He does that to us “creative” types. I was so persistent with this incredible artist, Becky Nash, that she finally agreed to teach me in a class. I was hooked. I called my pottery “Vessels of Grace.” Several classes later and after making many wonderful pieces to give away for several years I began to let it go. I let excuses take over my days.
No time. Too much to do. Too expensive - making art is a luxury I can’t afford. I’m not good enough. The budget got cut at the church for the creativity classes and I got disillusioned.
With my pottery, I forgot the simple pleasure of just creating for the joy of it,
for the beauty of it, for the pleasure it brought others and myself.
We are made in the image of the Creator God and therefore I believe deep within us is the desire to create. It can take many forms, but the desire is there - deep within us.
It might not be pottery for you. I know there are many other areas of my life where I am always responding with the creative spirit God has given me.
For you, It could be the desire to be creative in cooking a meal for your family, or organizing your home, or creating a beautiful oasis in the garden, or creatively bringing a team together at work, or parenting your child, crafting a lesson to teach, choosing the perfect gift and wrapping it up with that special touch or a painting or a poem or a conversation that brings healing and the touch of His grace or the beautiful way you creatively love another person. It could be simply writing a note to encourage or thank a friend. This past week I finally took the time to write some long overdue thank you notes. To my surprise, in the last few days I’ve gotten 3 emails, 2 texts and a phone call thanking me for the note!
Or your creative desires might be hidden away. You may have let self doubt or judgement kill that desire.
You may have been told it was a waste of time, frivolous. You might not even recognize the creativity within you. That is the most common thing I’m told, “I’m just not a creative person.” Perhaps you simply don’t recognize it. Maybe you just got tired. Sometimes we do need to let our pursuits rest awhile and God does call us to move out of one and into another. Maybe your in a rut and need to try something new or take a class.
When I came back home from the pottery studio, I looked at the few pieces I have left in my home that I haven’t given away. The making of them brought me such pleasure, I made new friends. I entered into the part of the Story Jesus wanted to teach me through the process. I learned faith lessons through this part of my creative journey. I faced fears and the result blessed others.
Sometimes we let things go because the Lord is moving us in another direction and sometimes we just don’t give it priority in our lives.
If you are struggling with creativity in your life it’s important to ask those questions.
Years ago I began the practice of writing down favorite, inspiring quotes from authors. I have a whole section on the arts. So I pulled them out again and read in hopes that they would rekindle something within my creative spirit. I’ve included a few of my favorites below for you to ponder.
"There is a unique responsibility attached to the word “artist.” It is always to give more—see more, create more, love more—than what is merely required. The bottom line for the artist is not merely truth, but truth and love. Truth and beauty. It takes an unswerving love for the
Poet of the Commandments to swallow
the truth of his tablet-words,
then allow them to run liquid and living--
and beautiful—through our souls."
Joy Sawyer, The Art of the Soul
When I opened the cover of this book, The Art of the Soul, I read the inscription inside before placing it in its new home on the shelf - “Mom, this book is perfect for you because you definitely have a creative spirit. I hope you will enjoy the book. Thank you for all you do. Merry Christmas 2005. Love, Mary Elizabeth”. She was 14.
I believe sometimes we think we can’t give time for ourselves to do the creative things we love because of the responsibilities of family. But, often the truth is that our children benefit from the time we give to our creative endeavors and see the value sometimes more than we do ourselves.
When we neglect the things that God has wired us to love, that part of us is missing from the way we love
and minister to our family and friends.
"The call to servanthood causes the creative gift to come alive. It gives it color and tone and direction and purpose. The art that naturally flows out of our obedient response to the call of God on our lives, as a result of the imprint of the creative mandate, can , by grace, become water to wash the feet of sisters and brothers, cold water to quench the thirst of an unbelieving world. To become servants of Christ is the highest goal we can aspire to in our creative work."
Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand
"To worship God----to enjoy him----while creating is an act of faith. When, like prayer you put aside the desire to role-play and come quietly, expectantly, he wants you to know he listens. He hears. He knows why you’re sitting at that potter’s wheel, that sewing machine, that kitchen table. and he delights when you delight in him." Joy Sawyer
“God is an artist and he is beautiful. He has woven his image into the fabric of our lives, which explains our drive to create things which are beyond us and which we don’t always understand. Perhaps more important, he has issued a call to us that carries with it the possibility of obedience or disobedience: the call to respond to his beauty with creative worship. God calls us to create a space in time for ourselves and others to meet with God, to gaze upon his beauty and to worship him.” Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand
The Father has generously given us gifts. It is so important to nurture the gifts God has given us. To make that space. To do that requires that we are intentional, even creative in finding the time to be creative!
In the seasons of my life when I was most faithful to make pottery, I had more work outside the home than I do now and a teenager at home. I’ve learned this through the years, we make time in our lives for what we really value. It might mean saying no to something else. If you look at your calendar, it will reveal what you value most. When I look back at the most creative seasons of my life I can honestly say it was more than worth the time I invested. Creativity can’t be measured in dollars spent or even earned from the artistic pursuit. It’s about pursuing your passions, the things that bring you joy and honor the Creator with the unique way that He has made you and the gifts and talents He has given you.
"Your authenticity does not depend on proving to people or to God—with pitches, paints, or pen—that you really quite a piece of work. Rather, I pray that you are discovering that your authenticity lies in who you are constantly becoming in Christ, and that you make art because you cannot keep yourself from the simple joy of shaping something as best you can and then pouring it over Jesus’ feet. The only reason for doing your very best, despite any cost, is the infinite worth of Jesus, for making art this way is where authenticity lies." Harold Best, Scribbling in the Sand
Matthew 13:10-15 (MSG)
10 The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”
11-15 He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.
"In art, either as creators or participators, we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we had forgotten, and some of the terrible things we are asked to endure, we who are children of God by adoption and grace."
Madeline L’Engle. Walking on Water
It’s important to make time for our creative gifts, time for the things we love. Time to explore, discover, create, dream. In our Restore retreats we always include a creativity party on our 2nd night for those who want to participate. Something to make that is a reminder of the spiritual lessons we’ve learned, or a gift to bring home to pass on to someone who needs a little encouragement. It’s part of our Soulcare mission!
Recently Sherry and I have been talking about expanding the ministry of Restore to include one day creativity workshops in some of the different artistic pursuits. They could include things such as gardening, painting, pottery, writing, creativity in the home, cooking, creative journaling, flower arrangement, music, photography, drama. I think the idea really stirs from a hunger in my own soul ... to continue the work the Lord started in my spirit years ago.... to be a part of that journey in the lives of others and be inspired in my own path of creativity in the process. And of course, Sherry’s brain is always exploding with creative ideas! The workshops would include teaching by professional artists combined with a Biblical teaching that relates to the artistic area we are studying.
What do you think? Does that interest you? I’m not sure how the Lord will lead us. If something like that interests you then leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.
What are the creative questions, roadblocks and struggles in your life?
Write them down.
Then spend some moments in prayer asking the Father help you release them into His hands so that He can use you to draw others to that irresistible light of Christ.
Ask Him to help you discover and savor the creative spirit He has placed within you.
You are part of His creative Story of redemption. You have been given creative gifts to serve and worship Jesus. Consider creating something this week for the simple joy of it or to pour the love and grace of Jesus on someone in your life.
No one else can tell the Story exactly like you!
Savoring His creativity within me,
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