Category Archives: Creativity

Strength in Weakness

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As I reviewed the week, particularly the fact that I had not written any blog posts, I began rehearsing a list of my weakness. I’m messy and disorganized, I’m very impatient, I need to step up my computer skills, our family doesn’t plan ahead, I still struggle with budgeting, and procrastination is my middle name!

During my quiet time, I searched the Scriptures for some relief for the shame and guilt that plagues me. An initial search led me to familiar passages like 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Another favorite verse is, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but we have one who is tempted in every way, just as we are –yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

These verses are great in theory, but how do I live them out in the day-to-day grind? I am juggling many different responsibilities and goals, and if I’m not fitting in blogging, the real question for me was, Should I keep writing?

In this season, my days are full. I am teaching full time and just added the responsibility of mentoring a student teacher. My own children are in high school, so after managing behavior all day I come home to more homework and discipline; in addition, I am taking a course once a week and I am part of a committee that is implementing the new Educator Evaluation system. My husband is in school full-time and working part-time, so the burden of housekeeping falls to me. My son plays varsity basketball, and this week he had three games, which meant most evenings I didn’t get home until 9 pm. In this busy schedule, I want to find the secret of relying on Christ’s strength in spite of my weaknesses, and I continued to wrestle with this problem.

This morning during my devotions, God was so faithful to meet me to assure me of his presence in my hectic days. While reading a portion of Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways, the section on “Offer Your Weakness” spoke hope into my situation. She writes, “We must make art, even in our weakness. If we don’t, we are denying ourselves ourselves.” An example written by her father resonated with me. He wrote, “I’m disorganized and messy…Just because I don’t like something about myself doesn’t mean it’s sin.”

When I come home from a busy day at work, the dishes in the sink taunt me. My cranky daughter wants some of my precious time, and I snap back impatiently. The laundry needs to be done so my husband and son have their uniforms for tomorrow, and Satan shames me.

But the Father of Lies does not have the final say. Despite my procrastination and my messy desk and a tiny bank account, and without a writer platform, last year I had 5 articles published, I attended She Speaks, I went to Europe, I received my master’s degree, and I parented teenagers and taught school and lived by faith in Christ.

When you are confronted with weakness, undesirable character traits, messy relationships, and too many responsibilities with too little time, remind yourself, it’s not sin. It’s the ideal situation for God to show up with abundant grace. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

New Year’s Resolutions

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As you can infer from my previous post, I enjoy this time of year as I take stock of the previous year and anticipate the one to come. I have almost always made new year’s resolutions, and this year is no exception.  I recently listened to a teleseminar by Donna Partow and used some of that goal-setting time to finalize some areas that I would like to develop this year.

1. Writing—I am returning to blogging and I am planning to complete 1000 posts.  From what I’ve read, that is about the number of posts it takes to have a strong online presence and build a platform.  In addition, I want to start writing a devotional book. This will take about 2 years as I plan to cull my quiet time journals for the various selections.  I also hope to write an e-book on prayer. Now I’ve made it public, so that gives me more encouragement to stick with it.

2. Career –When I return to work as an English teacher in January, I have some new leadership responsibilities as our school system begins to implement the educator evaluation system established by the federal government. In addition, I will have a student teacher under my supervision. As I anticipate receiving my professional license this year, I am looking ahead, and wondering if I should pursue an administrative license. This is something I am praying about, as my full-time work really becomes a ministry.

3. HOME –I am still working on home management and I continue to follow the Flylady system. We have been in our home almost fifteen years, so at this point in addition to decluttering, some remodeling needs to take place. With our busy schedule, things pile up quickly if I don’t maintain order.

4. Finances—With my husband in school, our budget is strained, and this year I want to pay off some debts as we will be needing a newer vehicle.  It seems this area is a constant battle for me. However, God has been so faithful to provide for all our needs and many of our wants as well. The discipline of keeping a budget makes me disciplined in other areas as well, and I have seen my children become content.

5. Creativity— I have stacks of art magazines and supplies stacked up without finished products to show for it. So, as my “reward” for meeting my writing goals, I am going to give myself permission to work on my art.  If I don’t develop my creativity by completing a few specific projects, I will give or throw away my magazines and art supplies on July 31, 2014, freeing up time, space, and mental energy to pursue something else.

I didn’t include my spiritual disciplines or exercise on my list because these two items are part of my every day routine. When I wake up, I walk the dog, make some coffee, and have my devotions before I start the day. In the afternoon I take a walk or go to the Y.

The verse I chose for the year is “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and of SELF-DISCIPLINE.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

R.E.A.C.H. Your Potential in Christ

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As a busy Christian woman, I juggle many priorities.  I am a wife, mother of teenagers, a teacher, a writer, and friend.  As I manage my busy days, I have to keep my values in mind so that I am not sidetracked from the ministries God has for me.  The book of Philippians has always been meaningful to me, and for my years my guiding verse has been Philippians 3:12-14, “I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” (NCV)

I have used the word R.E.A.C.H. as an acronym to prioritize my busy life.  The areas I try to cultivate daily are Relationships, Exercise, Adjustment, Creativity, and Home Management.  I believe these areas have great value for everyone.

R-Relationships.  The most important relationship in my life must be with God.  I am so grateful that my parents modeled a godly life for me.  The most consistent memory I have of my mother is of waking up and walking through the living room to see her on the couch with her Bible and prayer list, meeting with the Lord for daily morning devotions.  This is a habit I cultivate in my life today.  Jesus is my faithful friend, and I spend time in prayer and Bible reading daily.  The next relationship is my marriage.  My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years and we have to continue to develop ways to connect.  He works nights and weekends, and I get up at five a.m. and work during the day, so sometimes our communication gets weak. We need to prioritize time together as a couple. Finally, my relationships extend to friends and family.  God has blessed me with a variety of women of all ages and walks of life.  While I have friendships with women at work and in the community, my closest friendships must be with Christian women who encourage me to live for Christ.

E-Exercise.  It is important for everyone to exercise and eat right to keep up with the demands of a busy schedule.  The Bible tells us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) I believe walking is the best exercise for everyone.  It is free, low-impact and can be done anywhere. I love exercise because it helps me to release stress after working with teenagers all day. It improves mood and helps to manage weight.  It sets a great example for our children to have healthy habits.

A-Adjustment.  Every day we need to adjust to situations that arise.  Some adjustments are short-term.  Paul reminds us in our theme verse to forget the past and strain toward what is ahead.   Daily confessing my sin helps me to start fresh each day.  If I have spoken harshly to my husband, was sloppy in my housework, or too tired to exercise, I can confess my shortcoming and move on.  God’s word says, “his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23) Other adjustments are long term.  Grief from the loss of a loved one, recovery from surgery, a long separation followed by divorce, a change caused by a new job or school year require an extra measure of God’s grace as we move and learn through a difficult season. During these seasons, the routine of Bible study, prayer, and exercise coupled with the support of friends and family help us to cope.

C-Creativity.  God himself is a creator, and I believe we are like Christ when we express ourselves creatively.  I encourage you to take the time you do have to express your God-given talent.  Some ladies are beautiful homemakers, creating a warm and beautiful haven. Others are wonderful cooks.  My mother cross-stitches baby and wedding samplers for the family to celebrate each life.  My grandmother has sewn clothing for herself and her family.  My son loves to play guitar, and my daughter sings.  In Exodus, the Lord told Moses to appoint Bezalel and Oholiab to create the Tent of Meeting. “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31: 3)  Like these men, we can use our creativity not only to express ourselves, but to bless others and to glorify God.

H-Home Management.  Home management is an area where I struggle the most.  I blame my creativity for the piles of stuff and unfinished projects that I have lying around.  However, I know I need to be a good steward of the home and resources that I have.  We are all familiar with the Biblical standard of the housewife found in Proverbs 31: 27, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The best solution I have for clutter is to get rid of stuff.  Now that my children are teenagers, they no longer use the toys they have accumulated over the years.  They spend their time and money on activities and sports, clothing and electronics.  However, their old stuffed animals and toys still take up room in the closets and floors of our home.  When our homes are cluttered, our effectiveness is stalled. I have lost many bills and important papers because I pile them instead of filing them.  There are many important resources to help us manage our homes.  I am following the Fly Lady and using her systems to get my home straightened.  Again, when our homes are a beautiful oasis we can invite others to visit and bless them with hospitality, showing them God’s love.

REACH-ing my potential in Christ is a daily effort, but I believe it helps me to focus my priorities and serve the Lord most effectively.  I hope that you can adopt these principles in your life.

Creativity Enhances Life

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This weekend my husband and daughter were in a local production of West Side Story.  My daughter participated in a 4-week camp that culminated in a full-scale musical performance.  My husband got an extra role as a principal in one scene.  The performance was very professional and I believe my family reaped many benefits.

The main benefit of creativity is increased confidence.  Public speaking is the number one fear of people, so when people participate in a play, they are conquering that fear.  Public speaking is an asset on the job and for interview skills as my daughter anticipates work and college interviews in the future.

People who are creative also enjoy success. I was so proud when I had my first article selected for publication.  Setting a goal and meeting it brings great satisfaction.  Creating something fulfills that need for success. At school I have many students that do not have goals and do not have academic success which keeps them in a state of depression. However, when students have outside interests like sports or a job they are more likely to keep that positive attitude toward schoolwork.

Creativity also promotes positive relationships.  My daughter and husband made new friendships while participating in the play.  When I read an article or book someone has written, when I view artwork someone has created, or hear someone sing a song, I know them better because of their expression and it enhances our relationships.  Art is a way to express ourselves and make ourselves understood while we enter into new understanding with others.

Creativity also gives us new skills. My daughter learned how to dance and work with a group and gained many important character traits like perseverance, encouragement, team work,  and patience as she attended camp and waited backstage.  When I take a class or read a blog I glean new information to enhance my art or adjust my attitude.

Creativity gives pleasure and relaxation to the creative person.  Many people experience “flow” while creating, which is the idea that the person is caught up in the moment, focusing so intently on the task at hand that ideas are “flowing” and the person experiences positive feelings.

I hope that creativity is a priority in your life, whether you are cooking, blogging, decorating, exercising, or acting.  Creativity enhances the the life of the artist and the audience!