Taking the Scenic Route: Moments of Creative Clarity

“…The race is not given to the swift…” ~Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am, by nature, a person who is all about using every second of every day to my advantage, constantly working out in my mind how to squeeze as much into a moment of productivity as I possibly can.

I like to map things out in order to ensure that I have taken the shortest route but achieved the greatest return. I especially held this way of thinking in the world of my fiction writing.

So when I set out for the third time in my writing career to complete the writing of a novel in thirty days, the first thought, besides what I would write about, was in how many words would I need to produce in a day.

If you do not know, what makes a novel an official novel is the word count. This is the same with Novellas, Short Stories, etcetera. To have a novel, your manuscript must be made up of 50,000 words or more.

Trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

When I sat down on June 1st, 2014, I felt my nerves pinching away at me, screaming for me to make 3,000 words. Why? So that by the end of June I would not only have achieved novel status, but I would be finished the story I was working on in totality.

It sounded like a good plan, great plan if I am honest. But what I have realized is that rushing and counting does not for a strong storyline make. Actually, by focusing more on the word count goal and not the actual creative process, I felt my lines of creativity constricting under the unnecessary pressure I was applying.

Being a person redeemed by the blood of Christ, I often pray, and turn my movements over to Him and rest in His favor as a result. So from the beginning of that writing process, I could hear His voice saying, “Don’t force it. The story will come to you.”

My writing of  Ascension Graveyard (my still current WIP) ended up revealing to me that TRUST is a VERY large part of the creative process, and trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

My rushing was hindering me from allowing this story to truly tell itself. Cutting corners and cramming in masses of words for word’s sake was only making a mess. My rushing toward the goal was getting me nowhere fast.

Since then,  I have slowed down.  Ascension Graveyard has truly taken me on a scenic route, so much so that it is doing more brewing in my imagination than pouring through my fingers onto a keyboard.

I do not have the “desired” word count (yet) but what I do have is a solid plot that I am proud of. I can finally see the characters, get to know them and empathize with them in a way rushing would not have allowed.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is what the Creative process is all about. It’s not punching a clock, not compiling data, not reaching a status just so you can say you have one. Rather it is about basking in the picturesque natural beauty of what comes from within when you take your time and create something from your heart.

I have learned that this is indeed true. My art, my writing, is indeed witness to this and I have the Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that.

*Revised from June 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Advertisements

Dreams Don’t Expire: Creative Motivation

Dreams don’t have an expiration date.” ~ Jesse Duplantis

As long as there is still breath in your lungs and life in your heart, there is still time for you to achieve your dream. Dreams are seeds, and with all things born of seeds, they have their season to grow.

The word of God says it like this,

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” ~ECCLESIASTES 3:1 KJV (See vs 1-8)

Maybe your dream has not yet come into its season. DON’T. GIVE. UP! There is still time. Maybe you are someone who has invested many years, along with tears, into a vision that seems to remain fruitless or blurred. Again I say, don’t give up.

If you know in the center of your being that what you are aiming to do is from God, and screams to be birthed, no matter the obstacles or the detours, keep holding out in faith and keep cultivating what is inside of you.

Joseph had many dreams to become a ruler, but it took seventeen years of sorrow and trials before he had developed the character to reign over Egypt.  (GENESIS 37-44)

Even Moses had to spend some time in the wilderness–forty years to be exact–before he was able to truly take up the mantle of deliverer of the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.

Abraham, the Father of our Faith, had to weight twenty-five years before the child of promise, Isaac, was conceived from the barren womb of his wife Sarah.

All of these people of faith had to operate in faith, no matter the challenges before they received what they dreamed of in their spirits.

So do we.

The truth is that dreams don’t expire, but people can sometimes in the midst of a seeming defeat throw them away.

Don’t throw your dreams away. Take whatever steps you can today to prepare for your tomorrow. Little seeds bear great fruit if cultivated with care. Keep the faith and keep pressing. Your season is yet to come!

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves. ~PSALM 126:5-6 CSB

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

Team Up! :How to Achieve Your Dream Pt 3

Teamwork makes the dream work.” ~John C. Maxwell

Everything God created was created to be most fruitful when it is connected with another. Why? Because there is such beauty and satisfaction to be had when triumph and victory are born from cooperation.

When a man takes a wife, children are born. When a bee meets a flower, more flowers, bees, and honey are born as well as food for the world. When seed meets soil and is saturated with rain, new life is produced.

Joy and appreciation from the works and gifts of others bless us with gratitude and the cultivation of a culture of encouragement.

When we, dreamers and visionaries becoming creators, have taken the steps to:

1. Believe: Believe that we can achieve the dream that is inside of us. (See Believe You Can).

2. Simplify: Take your processes one step at a time without over-complicating each move you make. (See Keep it Simple).

… we are on the path to productively multiplying our success which is found in our ability to properly align ourselves to achieve our dreams, by teaming up with others.

3. Team up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 explains this perfectly, stating that there is a greater reward for your labor when you are partnered up with another person or persons.

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ~Ecclesiasites 4:9-12

It is wise to have a support group, especially mentors; a system of like-minded visionaries who have been where you are headed or are walking the path alongside you on your way to where you are going.

Having a ‘team’ means there is always someone to encourage you when you fall, keep you warm when the world is cold and harsh, give you guidance when you feel stuck, or to simply tell you the best path to take to avoid hidden pitfalls.

Your team can give you the outer perspective that you will lack at times. They will have the ability to give you the right amount of hard truth married with the perfect amount of grace which is exactly what we all need to get from dream to reality.

When we, people of faith, invite Christ Jesus, the giver of these dreams and visions, to captain the journey along with our team, our efforts are, blessedly, not easily thwarted.

Whenever you decided to take hold of your dream, there is going to be opposition. We need someone or several someones to help us stay the course, shower us with encouragement and cheer us on when we feel as if we can go no further.

We need that person that anoints us with goodness when we need it most. Get yourself a great team, keep things simple, and never cease to believe you can!

Seize your dream. You are already halfway there!

*Originally posted May 22, 2016

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER! 

Keep it Simple: How to Achieve Your Dream Part 2

Everything in life should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” ~Albert Einstein

When it comes to doing anything, especially taking a dream and birthing it into the tangible, keeping things simple is a very crucial admonition to keep in mind.

For most of us, our knee-jerk reaction to anything new is to overthink it. We begin to compare our ‘pearl’ with oyster farms of others who have similar dreams already up and running. We begin to add extra bells and whistles to our end products and we haven’t even actually ‘made’ them yet.

We take precious ideas, born in a moment of genius, and think it from the mustard seed it began as, and transform it into craggy, dark mountains that we feel ill-equipped to climb.

Yes, most dreams, especially those that will involve creative income, do come with seeming miles of information that needs to be learned. All of it is important, but none of it is necessary at the very beginning of the dream.

What is important is to take the first step.

With whatever we aim to do, whatever we have taken the step to believe to do, we must remember to keep it simple. It is so easy to overcomplicate things and make what should have been an enjoyable task or journey something loathsome.

But at the same time, as we are keeping things simple by not overcomplicating them, we need to remember NOT to make them simpler.

To me, this means to not dumb down our dreams to the point that they have transformed into cheap counterfeits of our original visions. Don’t cut necessary corners of the process in order to catch up with the so-called competition.

Simple means, again, to be uncomplicated. Choose to Believe without all the complication.

You don’t have to have all the answers yet. Let your seed be a seed, then a sapling, and then tend it until it grows into a tree. Step by step. Worry about ‘racking the leaves’ the moment your tree is big enough to produce some shade.

Keep it simple. Allow your dream to grow in stages. Each step counts. Things only get complicated when you try to leap over more than one step at a time.

Simply write your first draft, create your preliminary sketch, sing your song until the notes come naturally, build your business by creating a starter plan, live your life…simply.

Our dreams are developed by means of a process. There are steps to climb but we do best taking one step at a time. Simple.

* For Part 1 of this series, see Believe You Can: How to Achieve your Dream Part 1

*Originally published May 15, 2017.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Believe You Can: How to Achieve Your Dream Part 1

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~Theodre Roosevelt

One of the most glorious things about life is that even though it can be considered a canvas, it certainly is not a ‘paint by numbers.’ Life is not a one-size-fits-all even if certain ideas and concepts may mirror that of another’s. There still, and always, remains the glory of uniqueness in each person’s life and creation.

I believe that Christ Jesus has a plan for each of us, a perfect design that He wants us to be co-workers with Him upon. He gives us dreams for a reason.

Some dreams we take hold of and bring to manifestation, while sadly, others, we leave to float away like feathers in the wind.

Many times, the dreams that get away from us are the dreams that we can’t seem to muster the faith for or we allow our faith to be choked out of us in the struggle.

But how do we cease to do this?

We have to make a connection with faith and hold on to it. The Lord tells us that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed and nothing will be impossible for us (Matthews 17:20) The glory of such a small seed is that it becomes very large when placed in the right soil and environment.

The blessing for us is that anything that we put in the hand of the Master has the potential to be greatly multiplied beyond what we can even hope or imagine! (Matthew 14:13-21,  Ephesians 3:14-21)

We have to see more opportunities than obstacles.  We must no longer minimize the potential of the seed of the dreams we have and stop polluting the soil of opportunity with weeds of fear and doubt.

In order to do this, we need to remind ourselves of the great love that Jesus has for us. He is the one who has given us the dream and He loves us.

Fear, however, is the opponent of love (I John 4:18), and not only are you greatly loved but you have not been given the spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)

We also have to use our creative imagination with faith-filled courage and not fear-filled conjecture. We must focus on the potential truth of imaginative vision instead of the frailty of tangible sight.

The book of Proverbs tells us that as a man thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7)These thoughts which soon become reality begin as a seed of imagination. They can either be based out of fear as well as incomplete information or fuelled by faith.

To be ruled by conjecture is similar to looking into a pool and concluding that the waters are not deep because they ‘look’ to be shallow, only to find out you were wrong once your head is under water.

Operating in the truth of imaginative vision is to step out in faith and we are encouraged in the Word that Faith is the substance of things not seen and the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Evidence is not conjecture. Evidence is truth!

Faith it out!

The beauty in this is that the greatest push for us to accomplish those dreams that make our hearts flutter is to first believe. Believing, making the commitment to take the step, is the greatest part of the journey.

It is the first step toward your dream, and believing enough to step out means you are already halfway there!

*Original article posted May 8th, 2017

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Letting Go: How I Learned to Step Into My Dreams

Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win. Oh control. It’s time, time to let you go.” -JJ Heller

A few years back, on my birthday, I woke up after having an incredible dream. The dream was prophetic for my personal future. It hit straight to the core of some inner struggles I had been having. It gave me a greater hope for the future that I am now living.

For several years I had felt like I had fallen into a dark well or a completely lifeless creative downward spiral. Sure, I had been making art, commissions, and though I was pleased with the outcome of each, I have to say they were indeed lifeless … to me.

I was so detached from these paintings that I didn’t even really bother archiving them for my own portfolio. That says something. It says a lot.  My writing was like swimming through mud.

I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

Spiritually, I felt like I had been traversing a craggy wasteland, always walking forward in the direction of the sun (Son), waiting for this storm of torrential rains and floods to come, but I was always waiting, always walking, and there was never a drop of rain in sight nor a cloud in the sky.

I began to grow used to the desert, both the spiritual and the creative. Oddly enough, my inner spirit man never really felt like it was in a drought, just thirsty, content, but never satisfied. No matter how much I fought to be satisfied.

As years passed in my reality, circumstances not changing, my hope for a better future, for the flood rains in my creative life and spiritual life to come, became like an old plane ticket in my hand. It had no expiration date, but neither did it have a date of departure, and so I ceased looking for one.

I was a desert-wanderer. This was my reality. But on my 31st birthday, waking up from that hope-reviving dream, remembering other dreams that partnered with it, I began to smell the scent of rain in the air again. A change was coming and it was right on the horizon. Christ Jesus even led me to a verse in the Scriptures to solidify this newly revived hope and expectation.

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing what is new, let it now spring forth. Do you not know it? I am even making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Now, for several years I had been having a connected series of dreams about living in a trash bag tent in the desert amongst many others who were fearful of a coming flood.  So when I read this verse, and the images of those old dreams of my desert lands being flooded out with enough water to fill the oceans,  I knew it was a Word of life for me from Him.

This, however, is where faith gets tricky. People of faith LOVE a word about CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH, but they never take into consideration what CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH really mean.

Simple analogy, think of how a child who has come to the end of his or her stay within the womb feels when they are are BREAKING THROUGH to their new place. It is not a comfortable transition.  The very fluid they had been thriving on for nine months is squeezed out of them as they pass through from one existence to the other.

Isaiah 43:19 is awesome, but there is a verse that comes before it. This verse was the training breakthrough verse from me.

Isaiah 43:18 Do not remember the former, nor consider that of old.”

STEP 1: Confront your past disappointments.

In order for me to move forward out of my desert, I had to forget the things that were behind. I had a lot of disappointments and false starts,  a lot of heartaches, a lot of wounds, and all of those things not only blocked my creativity but stifled me spiritually and emotionally.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows.

I was in agreement with ‘forgetting’ all of those things. I had buried them for a reason, but I had not healed from them. I was still carrying them with me, and the load was rotting lot gangrene and affecting every creative part of me.

I began to think I was a failure because I could not make myself forget these things that Christ Jesus had let out of the bag. I cried. I didn’t understand until He gently and lovingly told me a simple truth.

In order to forget what is behind, you have to confront it, heal from it, so that it never has power over you again.

You know what it is like when a clogged pipe has been treated and all that grime comes out before the clear water flows? That is what had been taking place with me ever since. I began to allow my pains to be redeemed, and I am talking about those old pains, the-school-bully-that-scared-you-when-you-were-nine kind of pains.

STEP 2: Embrace your unique path and timing.

Then there were the pains of not feeling good enough and trying to achieve those superficial plateaus that society has put in place, but failing every time. And why was I failing? Because these things are not part of His design or rather they were not part of His design for my life back then. Striving for those things (marriage, children, nest, 9 to 5 job … not really on the 9 to 5) at the WRONG time was creative suicide.

Because of my wounds, the ones that were sneaking up on me even though I had pressed them down, I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

STEP 3: Divorce yourself from perfectionism.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows. I was trying to control all of these things because I could not control the pain that I refused to confront. But now I know better. I was blessed with the chance to journey far away from home, away from the familiar noise and get a glimpse of the creative woman I once was and am in the process of becoming.

I leave you to take another listen to the song that makes my heart dance. It’s one of my anthems. It comes from the “When I’m with You.” Album by JJ Heller. The song is called “Control.” I have let go of the control now. I have ceased to clip my own wings out of fear and the need to control something, anything, just to feel secure.

I gave Jesus permission to heal my hidden hurts and to draw out the creativity that had been backed up.

BONUS: LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL!

I gave up control and I am getting to know me again and you don’t need control for that. It’s actually best to let it go.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS:

  • What steps have you taken to walk into your creative dreams?
  • What were some things that were holding you back?
  • What advice would you share with others who have struggled to take hold of or regain their footing in conquering their dreams and goals?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Art of Tireless Pursuit: The Expression of Faith in Creativity pt 3

Faith is not only defined by giant leaps but is often reflected in the tiny steps.” ~Candice Coates

A few years back, I was sitting in front of my television, watching some show on HGTV, eating a plate full of room temperature leftovers (good leftovers nonetheless,) when a thought popped in my head:

You will never know where you are going if you never take a step.” ~Candice Coates

The thought seemed simple enough, for, as I was watching HGTV, eating room temperature leftovers, I was also thinking about this creative platform, my writing career,  my art, and all the other things I had planned to do in that year which seemed to have been getting derailed from every angle. Truth be told, I am still thinking about all of these things.

But when I first had these thoughts, I was thinking about my serial-blog-novel, ASCENSION GRAVEYARD. I will be honest, AG (for those of you who are just now tuning in, AG is my blog novel that I started writing in June of 2014…it is still a work in process and progress,) had given me some reason for creative pause.

I felt like it might have turned out to be a far longer novel than I planned for it to be, and coming to terms with that had been difficult. I have said this before. But even with my previous mention, I felt like the thought alone had caused me to stop my creative motions.

Even now, I am planning to charge at this unfinished body of work with full faith and force this summer. This will be my fourth attempt at writing this novel. If that is not fighting tirelessly, I don’t know what is. But still, there are some questions that remain unanswered, that need answering, as I continue on with my creative pursuit.

What do I want for this novel? What do I want for this creative platform, for my art, for myself? Where am I going?

I want a lot and sometimes I feel like the chasm between here and there is just so wide. But that only leads to the next question.

How do I know it is wide unless I take a step? 

It’s like looking into the rippling waters of a pool and trusting my first impression that the waters aren’t that deep when in reality they might actually go twelve feet down.

The realization that I have come to, is that none of it really matters, the true depth or my perception if I never take a step forward at all. And how will I have the faith to step? I have to want it enough and be willing to fight for it until I get it. I have to be willing to count the cost and press until I have a breakthrough. (Luke 14:28)

We all must step forward. We all must have the faith and tenacity to pursue our dreams even at the risk of error. Sure, we will reach moments where we look at how far we have come, scan over our maps and wonder if we have gone the wrong direction. That is part of the faith process.

But even if we have gone the wrong direction, that is not a cause for us to cease proceeding forward, to set up shop in the place of the unknown just for fear of having lost our way. It is all about recalibrating, getting your bearings and then stepping forward in the right direction, again.

So what you may not know where you want to end up exactly. Maybe the answers will only come once you start walking.

So many biblical pictures come to mind; Abraham being told to leave his home by God and go to a place  He (God) would show him (Genesis 12:1). God didn’t tell Abraham where exactly he was to go, he just said go, take a step of faith. Believe.

Then there is Psalm 119:105, which says, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” That to me indicates that more times than not the steps ahead of our current footfalls are shrouded in the dark, but we have got to take another step to discover that which lays hidden from view.

For me, I have just got to keep pressing forward, keep stepping through the darkness and trusting the Light to make my way plain. If I want ICFTS to flourish and to nurture the creative growth of myself and others, then I’ve got to keep seeking the Lord for answers to creative questions and sharing what I find.

If I want my art to stretch itself out and grow, then I have got to give it a platform to do so. If I want my writing career to take off, then I have got to keep writing. I have to take steps and keep stepping after that. And I have to have the confidence in the Lord that HE is guiding me and has made room for me for the times that I stumble.

 “Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” ~HEBREWS 10:35-36

No matter how big or small the step you take toward accomplishing your dream, celebrate the courage that you displayed in the step that you took and the ones that are sure to follow.

Each stone you put forth is one more to add to the foundation of your future. Be grateful for your progress and keep moving forward no matter how long it takes! Keep stepping, tenaciously in your creative journey and see how the Lord honors that faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow wearyand lose heart. ~HEBREWS 12:1-3

So getting back to the original thought I had, it is true that we will never know where we are going if we never take the first step…but that is only if you plan on going nowhere.

Press forward. Keep dreaming. And keep seeking.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

 

The Art of Being Curious: The Expression of Faith in Creativity pt 2

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~Walt Disney

Question. Wonder. Think. Discover. All of these words have one specific thing or root, in common, and that is curiosity.

I don’t know exactly what comes to mind for you when you think of the word, curiosity, but for me, the image of a child appears. Why? Because children have this uncanny, unwavering courage or faith to seek with the expectation to discover.

They have a unique boldness that enables them to try new things in order to arrive at an intended result. As a result, they grow and develop beyond their previous state only to repeat the creative cycle of curiosity again.

Children embody the purity of grace to use their curiosity to be exceptionally creative, and thusly, successful. (I mean, have you seen videos of toddlers using the family dog as a ladder to open the fridge to get snacks? If that isn’t a success, I don’t know what is.)

Challenges in and of themselves, are never roadblocks for children. Instead, they are the catalyst for curiosity. This genesis of curiosity in the face of a problem links itself with incredible faith and transforms into tenacious action and thusly growth.

FAITH FUELED BY CURIOSITY 

A child encounters a ‘problem’. They become curious. They search for solutions using creativity. And then they take action applying that creativity fueled by faith for desired results. They believe (operate in faith) that what they are doing will succeed, will bear fruit.

In Matthew 7:7-8, our Lord Jesus says this, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Emphasis added.)

Ask. Seek. Knock. Recieve.

CREATIVE CYCLE OF CURIOUS FAITH: A LESSON FROM MOSES

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.….So the Lord said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land.  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the Lord commanded them, so they did. And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh. ~EXODUS 3:1-10; 7:1-7 NKJV

Here we find the Prophet Moses about his daily business when he sees something curious (the burning bush)  and begins to ask questions and seek out answers (why is the bush burning).

Upon further investigation of what sparked his curiosity, he is directed by God to go forth and do some knocking (tell Pharoah to let the Children of Israel go) and thusly receive what he requested, which was what God had promised Abraham over 400 years prior to that moment (GENESIS 15:13-15.)

As a result of this cycle, Moses, and a great multitude of people, not to mention those of Egypt experience divine change. Moses is elevated, the Children of Israel are liberated, and the Egyptians receive revelation, that there is no God but the God of Israel, all because of on curious moment and a question about a burning bush.

ASK

As creatives and people of faith, we have to embody the childlike confidence and boldness to ask questions and continuously operate in our curiosity. We have to have the courage to face the problems or obstacles that we encounter.

You’ve heard the proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Necessity suggests there is a need or a problem that needs solving. We generally see necessity when we take the time to be curious about what is in front of us.

What is the need or problem that you are facing? It could be something as simple as trying to find a better way to sweep dust into your dustpan without dust-bunnies clinging to the broom bristles. (I hate that!) Maybe you’ve dreamed up a few ideas for a solution, but what do you do next? You seek creative ways to use them.

SEEK

Look for ways to make those visions and ideas a reality. Research what others have tried, learn from those who’ve gone before you. Ask those you know what they think about the ‘problem’ at hand. Search out wisdom. Pray for wisdom (JAMES 1:5).

KNOCK

Put your findings into creative action. Faith takes steps. Faith is a verb.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” ~JAMES 2:18

A good idea is great on paper but it is even better in reality. In order for your creative idea to become a reality, it must be accomplished through faith. You won’t move without it.

RECEIVE 

If I have learned nothing else in my walk with Christ, it is that He often shows me problems because He also wants to give me the solutions. I just have to be willing and curious enough to seek Him and search out the answers.

Moses had to do the same.

Your act of curious knocking may not get the ‘door’ to your solution to open on the first try. It may not even get the door to open on the first seventeen tries, but if the Lord has led you to the door, He definitely intends for it to be opened.

Consider that there is a greater glory connected to the multiple attempts to solving your creative problem. The Lord pretty much told Moses this very thing, warning him that even though He was sending Moses to Pharaoh, and that he would let the Children of Israel go, there was going to require several encounters with the man before the deed was actually done, and all for glory. (EXODUS 7:1-7)

But in the end, the door would be opened and the promise would be received. This promise holds true for you and me today.

Keep holding onto your faith, and keep your eyes fixed with curiosity. You may be one burning bush away from something spectacularly creative!

*How has curiosity played a role in your creativity as well as your faith? Talk about it in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Art of Being Happy: The Expression of Faith in Creativity pt 1

A child can teach an adult three things: To be happy for no reason, to always be curious, and to fight tirelessly for something.” ~Paulo Coelho

THE HAPPY WISDOM OF CHILDREN…

Author, Paulo Coelho, hit the nail on the head with this simple yet powerful description of the wisdom of children. It puts me in the mind of what our Savior, King Jesus said to His disciples, in regard to children and faith, in Matthew 18:3, “…and [Jesus] said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

Here, the Lord is telling adults what it would take to walk in the fullness of His redemption, to not just be redeemed, but to take hold of the authority and power redemption brings, and that would require the faith of a child.

Children have the ability to place unmerited trust in their parents. They believe when dad says he is taking them to Disney World. They believe that when mom says there are no monsters under the bed, that there are no monsters under the bed. They leap from great heights, heights that would give most adults vertigo, trusting without a doubt that the arms of their loved one will catch them without fail.

This is the faith that the Lord asks of us and encourages us to embrace once again.

For many of us, deciding to allow our creative passion to no longer lay dormant or to cease to be a hobby, but to transform into our main source of income, requires a great deal of faith.

Most of the time the decision made is often the easiest hurdle to leap over. Maintaining the glow of a job-well-done, or a-good-choice-made is something else entirely.

You see, when we decided to become ‘serious’ about our creative passion, we are, by faith, opening doors to another level of reality. We are embracing the monotony of taxes if we are creating products or services. We are choosing to place ourselves on the stage for social criticism. We are choosing to accept boundaries in order to better guide and maintain successful ventures.

We are, in a word, choosing to ‘adult’ while fully embracing our creative passion.

The question that remains, while we are having to now juggle the new demands our creative growth requires, is are we choosing to be happy in the process?

CHOOSING TO BE HAPPY…FOR NO REASON

Applying childlike faith to our creative growth requires the courage to be happy in all seasons. What does this mean? It means that you are not allowing circumstances to rob you of what matters most. You are not allowing a seemingly unsolvable problem to take your joy from you.

It’s saying ‘this’ may be happening, but I choose to be happy because…or I choose to be happy anyway.

Maybe you start your blog and you don’t gain the following that you initially dreamed of even though you’ve applied the rules that you learned from blogging-gurus. You have the choice to either bemoan your low following or to be grateful for the audience that you have.

Or maybe you attract a few nagging comment-trolls. You can either wallow in the negativity of the ‘haters,’ or choose to celebrate the faithful who are blessed by what you are sincerely offering.

Maybe you didn’t anticipate how lacking in excitement filing quarterly taxes can be. You have the choice to groan about the process or be happy that you even have sales to file taxes on.

I could go on and on with many examples but the point is we need to choose to be happy…always.

Happiness effects the quality of our creativity, the quality of our presentation, the quality of our lives. Choosing happiness is to commit to being satisfied with where you are and what you have. It’s choosing to celebrate the ‘likes’ and kind words of readers over those of critics.

It’s choosing to see the good in your process and current place in your progress even as you strive to move forward to your desired destination.

I am sure that if you grew up anywhere near a church you’ve heard that that shortest verse in the bible is ‘Jesus wept.” Well, there is another verse that matches it in length (at least in English…I haven’t checked the Greek.)

REJOICE ALWAYS,” ~I THESSALONIANS 5:16

No matter where you are in your in your creative journey, take the advice of children and choose to be happy…for no reason…always. There is certainly so much more ahead of you if you keep pushing forward, but there is so much worth celebrating even in the now.

Choose happy.

*In what ways have you had to grapple with happiness or the lack thereof as you’ve journeyed in your creativity? Talk about it in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Learning as You Go: The Art of Having A Teachable Heart

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~PABLO PICASSO

We’ve all heard the blessed saying, “Vision is 20/20 in hindsight.” More times than not, it is used to buffer the harsh blows of bad decisions made. But what the phrase is really speaking to is the ability to truly learn from what has already taken place and glean something of value from it in order to create a better present and future.

Gleaning value is never a negative thing, just like looking back doesn’t have to be as a result of a bad choice.

The art of learning and growing is mastered by the ability to take stock of what has taken place behind us, what is currently unfolding, and having the ability to discern possible outcomes in our pending futures.

Part of growing is seeing where we have made our mistakes, where we could have done better, and applying that knowledge to future acts for improvement.

When we pause to assess our current places, we are better equipped to create or continue with our plans and goals for our future. Using the tools of hindsight, as well as her sister, foresight, gives us the gift of recalibration.

Practicing these two things is like using our GPS. Every now and again we get off track and slowly coast off course. Pausing to practice foresight and hindsight will give you the insight to know how you need to readjust your position in order to better aim for and hit your desired targets.

The thing about being a Creative, especially if you are starting something new, is having to:

  • Resist the urge to jump ahead/ skip steps in the process
  • Resist the urge to not move until you have everything ‘perfectly’ mapped out
  • Resist the urge to ignore the voices of those who have been where you desire to go

JUMPING AHEAD IN THE PROCESS

Anytime you make the decision to leap over steps, you are asking to get bruised shins. I don’t care how agile or athletic you believe yourself to be, every one of us has fallen at least a time or two when we’ve jumped steps. And do I really need to say that we have all regretted the consequences, especially when we know they could have been avoided?

Here is the truth. Learning is going to take time. Growth is going to take time, but time is all its truly going to take in the end.

There are reasons we are made to learn how to do things, step by step. It enables us to become better acquainted with what we are working with so that we have the knowledge and understanding to know how to take what we’ve learned and soar beyond limitations.

When we learn the steps, then we truly know how to skip over them in the future.

NO MAP IS GOING TO BE PERFECT

To wait until everything is ‘perfect’ is to make a conscious decision to never move at all. To never do a thing.  This is why we have our friends foresight and hindsight, they act as our margins in our process.

The reality is, in life (our creative journies) you are going to slip and stumble, same as you did when you were learning how to walk for the first time.

The process of doing so didn’t look perfect. Often times you used what was available to help you on your path of growth (tables, furniture, the leg of your parent), but your destination always remained true, and that was to be able to walk.

Take what tools you have now and step forward on your path and make the necessary calibrations as you go!

PUT YOUR LISTENING EARS ON

There is nothing quite as unfortunate as watching someone with potential fail to take flight, or encounter avoidable delays in their process because they refuse to be taught by others.

It kind of puts me in the mind of a toddler who refuses to let you show them how to tie their shoes.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning….Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid. ~PROVERBS 9:9; 12:1

I think the book of Proverbs makes it as plain as possible. When we have teachable hearts, when we allow others to instruct us in our way, we grow wiser and increase in learning.

In other words, your potential becomes powerful!

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” ~PSALM 15:22

The converse to that truth is that to reject instruction/correction is to prove yourself…stupid.  Sounds harsh, but harsher still is having to look back at our lives through the lenses of regret because we refused to be shown the way.

Being a Creative is such an inherent blessing, one that shouldn’t be treated as common. Deciding to learn all that we can as we create is the purest way to show our thanks and gratitude to the Lord God Jesus Christ, Who created us to be creative in the first place, and that begins with having a teachable heart.

*What are some ways that hindsight and foresight have helped you in your creative process? Share your wisdom and grace in the comment section below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!