Creative High Places: Faith-Filled Encouragement for Creatives

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall….He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my* high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.”~ PSALM 18:28-29, 33-36 NKJV *Emphasis added

Stepping out in faith is a privilege and an opportunity to see God’s Word made manifest in our lives. As children of the Most High God, our very acts of being creative, in whatever area we are prompted to create, are steps of faith.

The very places that we aim to step, the places that His Spirit is urging us to, are our ‘high places‘, given to us by His divine prompting (Vs 33). It is our right and privilege to take possession of them.

The glorious beauty of knowing that we have surrendered our hearts to Christ and are His beloved gives us the assurance that when we step in faith He will make our way straight before us and give us the strength to overcome any obstacles that may and likely will arise.

Psalms 18 assures us of several things:

  1. He will give us light for our way (Vs 28a, JOHN 8:12): He will show us where to step
  2. He will enlighten our darkness (Vs 28b, JAMES 1:5): He will give us wisdom as we step into new territory
  3. He will give us divine strength to overcome obstacles (Vs 29, 34, PHILIPPIANS 4:13)
  4. He will cultivate us and equip us to walk in new and high places that He blesses us to reach by His Grace and Faithfulness (Vs 33, PHILIPPIANS 1:6)
  5. He will guard us and make us great (Vs 35, PSALM 90:17)
  6. He will make our path such that we are unable to slip (Vs 36, ISAIAH 30:21)

See PSALM 18:28-36 

The Lord Yeshua-Jesus, Our God and Father, is a God of excitement and adventure, but every adventure will have its trials. There will be mountains. There will be valleys, but when we walk with Him there will be victory and such great reward.

Know that as you step into your vision that you can have faith for His protection, that not only does He equip you to leap over those mountains that may come to discourage you in your way but, in Christ, He has given you the divine authority to speak to those very mountains and command them to throw themselves out of your path and into the depths of the sea! (MARK 11:23).

We, as Creatives, are on divine assignment! Our Father’s desire is for us to flourish in our creativity and the vision that He has seeded in us.

So, step out in faith! No. Leap into it and know that He is with you every step of the way! He’s got you!

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

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Can I Be Me?: The Conflict of Creative Authenticity

Authenticity. According to Wikipedia, Authenticity-Authentic-Authentication is ‘the act of confirming the truth of an attribute.

Truth, unlike ‘fact,’ is an unchangeable and consistent reality. While an attribute, in its noun form according to Merriam-Webster, is ‘a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.

As a creative, a being made in the image of the Master Creator, Yeshua-Jesus, you have the inherent DNA to create. (More on that in The Call to Create.) There are specific, unchangeable attributes about what you have been given to offer to the world, things that are waiting for you to discover and share, that are unique to you and unrivaled by others.

The struggle that we all face in our creative journies is summed up in one phrase; the urge to be a people-pleaser.

It could be in the way you paint, throw a football, run a boardroom, or even how you nurture children in your home or in an educational environment. Whatever it is, it is unique to you.

But, more often than not, the noise of the world around us, the shifting trends of what is acceptable versus what is shunned, tends to not only stifle our creative voices to near silence, but they also whittle away at, and shape our uniqueness into something that can seem like a carbon-copy of things already done or voices already heard.

Although we may find ourselves drowning in a sea of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ with our contributions flooding the shores of social media when we follow the creative-status-quo, something within us tends to groan with frustration, knowing that the high number of followers isn’t enough. The ‘likes’ no longer give us the buzz we craved.

Maybe you are a person who isn’t even abreast of the ebbs and flows of the social-media world or algorithms, but still, you find yourself inundated with the pressures to ‘be’ what others expect you to do and be, to cook that pasta sauce like Nanna always did it, to give of yourself in a way that is…expected.

The struggle that we all face in our creative journies is summed up in one phrase; the urge to be a people-pleaser.

People pleasing in all arenas, is a venom that destroys the true voice of authenticity. It robs creatives of their God-given seed to flourish as they were meant to, to create in a way that brings Him glory, and them fulfillment.

Pastor Craig Groeschel put it this way,

Living for the approval of people will keep you from living for the purpose of God.”

The book of Proverbs says it like this, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25).

When we allow our hearts to be moved by our fear of what people around us will accept or the thought they will shout ‘That can’t be done,’ or ‘That is impossible,’ we lose our divine authenticity. We lose the power to be who we were created to be. We fall into the snare of inauthenticity.

If you grew up in a Christian environment, I am sure you’ve heard the adage, “Less of me and more of You, God.” As ‘humble’ as that may sound, it goes against what God wants for you and from you.

Yes, He delights for us to do all things unto Him and for His glory (Colossians 3:23-24), but He wants us to do things in the image that He created us in. He wants more of unique you.

Just as He doesn’t want a rose to shed its thorns in order to be like a daisy, neither does He delight to see Rose attempting to do things like her friend, Daisy, just because that is what has gotten man’s stamp of approval. Nor does He want any of us to stop being who He has uniquely imagined and created us to be.

We are, all of us, fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together by His hands with divine, and awesomely unique creativity (Psalm 139:13-14).

Can you be you? Absolutely! That is what you were created to be.

Whatever is burning inside of you may require you to not walk a path created, but to be a trailblazer and create a new path altogether. In order to do this you have to be you … and no one else.

You are going to face opposition when you take the courage to be the creative you that you are called to be. You are going to face mountains and even have to walk through many sung ballets of how you can’t do what you are doing with your authentic voice. But the beauty is, you can win if you step out in faith.

So I encourage you to be your authentic self, confirming the truth of the unique attributes that define you and the characteristics of your creative voice. You will win if you determine to be you!

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do CONQUER!

What are your thoughts about being an authentic creative? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

So You’ve Finished NaNoWriMo…Now What?: Words of Advice & Flash Fiction #Writing #WritingAdvice #MondayMotivation

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Slow Cooked

*Original story posted for Week 54 of Battle of the Blogs in 2016.

Her fingertips feathered the keys of her keyboard, driven by the ache to write something, anything. Words, for that still, silent moment, apart for the whistling of the wind outside her window, seemed to elude her.

She drummed her too-long fingernails against her writing desk and let out a frustrated sigh. She knew what she wanted to say, knew how to fix the mistake that was before her, she just had to muster her patience and allow the words to flow forth in their own time.

Writing from scratch and revisions never came in a microwavable package. The finished product always promised to be good, better than good, but it required the stamina of a crock pot, slow-cooked until the words fell from the pages into the reader’s imagination like succulent meat dripping from their bones.

As if savoring the aroma that wafted from her imagination, she closed her eyes and smiled as the scene played out upon her eyelids. Yes, she had it now. Her fingers, set at the ready, danced across the keyboard with the familiar music that delighted and sped up the beating of her heart into a glorious tattoo.

Like feathers upon the wind, the story floated around her, until the scene was finished, the revisions were done, and the belly of her muse was full as if from a savory meal cooked to perfection.

THE END…BUT NOW WHAT?

Many of you fantastic creatives set out over the month of November to create a literary tome of excellence. You set up your outlines, isolated plot points, and then when the first of the month hit, so too did your fingers hit the keys on your keyboards.

The adventure was fruitful, some days were more exhilarating than others, but still, you managed to reach novel status or at least get pretty close to it.

But now what? Now that NaNoWriMo has come and gone, what are you to do now?

  1. Keep Writing: Just like with the character in the short story above, you have to keep writing your story. If you didn’t reach 50k words in the allotted time that is okay. Every story, every piece of art grows at its own pace. Honor that, but do keep writing.
  2. Acknowledge your first draft for what it is: Novel status achieved or not, there is still worthy work ahead of you. Microwaves are good in the kitchen on an emergency basis, but microwave works of fiction aren’t good anywhere. What I mean is that you still need to ‘work’ your story into perfection even after you write the final words ‘THE END’. That moment is actually the beginning of really turning your WIP into a masterpiece
  3. Give yourself a deadline to finish the first draft: My first go at NaNoWriMo took me a little less than 30 days to hit novel status and 96 days to complete the story as a whole. For me (with many of the stories I’ve written…and like you, need to polish for publication) 90 days is the sweet-spot. There is less pressure to continue with manic writing, but enough of a push to keep you focused.
  4. Give yourself breathing room and time to mentally regroup: I recommend writing until your story is actually finished BUT sometimes, some narratives are so complex that your mind and muse simply need a break. Take a few weeks off if you need to. Either remove yourself from the story completely for a spell, or give yourself distance but allow your mind to gently work through the conflicts that are still ahead.
  5. BONUS ENJOY THE ROAD AHEAD: After completing 30 days of writing, you’ve earned it! Give yourself a pat on the back for coming this far. It was no small thing, but you did it!

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ~ Helen Keller

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Doing the Groundwork: Week 6 in Sow the Seeds & Seize the Dream Free Creative Course #MondayMotivation #SeizetheDream

Hello Creatives and welcome to Week 6 of Sow the Seeds & Seize the Dream 12-Week Creative Course.

This week’s module is designed to help you begin to do what it takes in order to bring life to your creative dream and vision.

In order to do anything, we must accept the fact that change is required. Many of us balk at the very word ‘change’ because it generally means that we are going to enter into a season of discomfort and the unknown, which requires a greater level of faith on our part.

Change in life requires decision making, which means we have to be decisive. If we want to live and seize our dream we have to make the necessary changes and stick with them.

In our creative process, and dare I say life in general, vision is where you take stock and figure out what it is what you want, the voice is the sound you want to make, the impact you want to create, the identity, if you will, of how you want to present this vision that you have.

TAKE HOLD

Doing, at this level is more pragmatic and mental than it is a physical action. Your ‘doing’ is not just found in the tools or the actions that you use to implement what you want to do. This level of doing begins first with:

  • Seeing what you want to do
  • Acknowledging what you have on hand or available to you (Your current tools)
  • And then determining what you need to let go of in order to obtain what it is that you have coming in your next level of creativity

LETTING GO

You need to determine what it is that is holding you back, and there are things that hold us back like weighing anchors. Here are some things that could be blocking you from taking hold of your God-given dream:

  • Relationships: You will only be as strong and capable as what you are connected to.  Being linked with people you’ve considered ‘friends’ whose aim is only to discourage instead of encourage, will always keep you down. We do ourselves a disservice when we allow others to constantly speak death over us and our dreams. Wisdom urges us to create distance from such relationships. (Proverbs 12:26)
  • Wrong Thinking: Wrong thinking which generally is the greatest culprit, will always keep us down. Yeshua Jesus tells us be it unto us as we believe, and His word further warns us that as we think in our heart so are we. What are you allowing your heart to say? (Matthew 9:28-29, 8:13; Proverbs 23:7)
  • Old Wounds: It could be that we are holding on to old wounds that we have not allowed the Lord to redeem in us.
  • Tangile Blockades: Or it could be something as tangible as living in clutter. Cluttered environments easily stifle our movement since we have limited space to move. Decluttering is a big part of letting go.

The root cause of many of these “blocks” tend to be the words of others. Hence why we must be diligent in guarding our dream. Everyone can’t be trusted with your treasure and some ‘friendships’ or romantic relationships could really be the toxins that are preventing your growth. We need to be willing to prune even if it hurts.

NOTE: I am not speaking about marriage, here. For goodness sake, do not leave your spouse in order to become a painter, or cut your mother completely off because she thinks being a writer is a waste of time. These relationships are sacred and require a completely different level of wisdom to work through. 

Simply put, you need to take stock and decide what or who it is that you need to let go of in order to take hold of what it is that I have in mind for my vision. This is the biggest part of doing. It is not easy but it is worth it!

As Tamara Lowe put it:

If people don’t respect what you bring to the table, let them dine alone.” ~Tamara Lowe

CREATIVE FAITH IN ACTION

Whatever medium or creative path you are embarking on, determine what you currently have available to you.

  • Artist: If you have paper, paint, ink, clay, etc, take stock of it
  • Writer: If you have an idea for a story, write it down
  • Begin to make a dedicated create space for the road ahead

Also prayerfully consider what is holding you back. If you need to distance yourself from relationships, receive healing, renew your mind, or declutter, now is the time to do so.

SCRIPTURE FOCUS

ADDITIONAL READING

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS

  • What have you found is the most difficult part about change?
  • Is making a decisive decision something that you struggle with especially when it means change will be a result. Why?
  • Out of the list of ‘blockers’ which do you think has been your greatest obstacle?
  • How can you begin to see Christ as being bigger than this obstacle, today?
  • What advice do you have for other creatives struggling with similar challenges of change and creative blockers?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THIS 12 WEEK JOURNEY, SEE Gearing Up to Prepare for Your Creative Success: Seeds We Sow

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Building Memorials for Creative Success: Week 2 #SeizetheDream #Goals #MondayMotivation #CreativeMotivation

*To see previous course encouragements see the Course Content Page.

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” ~Joshua 4:4-7 NKJV Bible Gateway

Memorial. A memorial is something that we set up to remind ourselves of important events or happenings in our lives.

Wedding bands are memorials of covenant relationships with one’s spouse. Diplomas are memorials for academic achievement. Gravestones are memorials declaring the life and death of a loved one.

No matter the type of memorial, all of them have the same purpose, and that is to call us to remembrance.

Every memorial that is set up in our lives will either spur us on to a healthy and whole future, or they will hinder us from taking the necessary steps we need in order to truly walk in our desired creative success.

As creatives, and for those of us who are people of faith, we must be mindful of the kinds of memorials we are setting up in our lives. Are we establishing reminders for success, or stumbling blocks for failure?

As we walk into the second week of this creative journey here are 3 Memorials we need to investigate; Past, Present, and Future.

Past: Where You’ve Been

  • Learn to Forget

The memorial of the past consists of its fair share of victories as well as failures. The beauty of looking back at our past is that we get to acknowledge it for what it truly is–Our past.

Sometimes our past victories can become as crippling as our failures. Remembering the ‘good’ that we did in yesteryear can sometimes be the fading glory that prevents us from pressing into the present opportunity for ‘greatness’ in tomorrow.

We can become so intimidated by our past success that we feel as if we won’t be able to reach that former glory let alone exceed it.

In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Pauls says:

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

As creatives, seeking a greater dream, we must, like the Apostle Paul, realize that we may not be at the level of success we’d like but we cannot let yesterday keep us from aiming for that level either.

We must learn to forget those old failures as well as put our past victories in their proper perspective if we are going to take hold of our future success.

  • Learn to Remember

In the same token, we have to keep stock of the victories we attained especially when the odds were against us and it seemed as if we were not going to reach or goals.

In Psalm 23, King David says of the Lord that His rod and His staff comfort him (Psalm 23) Some text suggest that the staff that David carried and referred to was a patriarchal staff passed down from father to son. On this staff were the victories over trial, and the mighty works that God had done for His people.

Being able to look back and remember how in the toughest of times we still achieved our goal is a comfort and an encouragement that urges us forward into our next victory.

If we overcame yesterday, we can surely do so today!

Present: Where You Are

Many of us creatives have found ourselves having a desired destination in mind but finding several reasons today for why we cannot get there. This often comes from looking at what you have in comparison to what you think you need, and then counting yourself out.

When we begin to see our present as insufficient in light of what we what for our future, and thus determine that it would be useless to make steps to contradict the insufficiency, we position ourselves for failure.

This is obviously not the kind of memorial we want to build.

If you are a person of faith, you must believe that the God of Creation not only gave you your creative dream and vision but that He is also aware of where you are and what you have, even in the face of what you ‘think’ you need.

Hebrews 13:5 says,

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”~ NKJV

To be content with our present does not mean that we are ‘satisfied,’ nor that we are deciding to just lay day and allow life to happen at whim. Rather it means that we have taken stock of what we currently have in hand, and with the minds of faith, courage, and ingenuity we are trusting a power greater than us to bless our steps of faith.

When we learn to move with and beyond what we have, seeing opportunity instead of lack, that we grow in our creativity and ingenuity. Genius is born when we move in faith and courage where we are with what we have available to us.

  • Remember that presently you are___________/you have_____________but you shall______________because you have faith.

Future: Where You Are Going

Where you are going is determined by how you think and what you see in your imagination. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks in his heart so is he.

In order for you to sow seeds for creative success, you must:

  • Learn to see yourself as successful
  • Learn to see yourself victorious in your vision
  • Learn to see yourself beyond the current odds

Overcoming roadblocks build strength, faith, and endurance. Building proper memorials enables us to do that.

CREATIVE FAITH IN ACTION:

  • In your journal, take the time to write down your memorials. Using the principles outlined in today’s course write down:
  1. Where you’ve been
  2. Where you are
  3. Where you ARE going
  • Speak your success: Using an index card, write down five affirmations about the successful person you are. Example: I am a success. I am original. I am courageous. Speak these out loud to yourself especially when you are feeling discouraged.

SCRIPTURE FOCUS:

ADDITIONAL READING:

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS:

  • What memorials do you have that have helped you take the steps toward your Creative Dream & Vision?
  • How have past victories hindered or enabled you in your creative growth?
  • 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.

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THIS 12 WEEK JOURNEY, SEE Gearing Up to Prepare for Your Creative Success: Seeds We Sow

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Be Brave: A Quote

Promise me you’ll always remember-you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

~Christopher Robin to Pooh

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Being discouraged by circumstances or challenges is easy. It’s deciding to overcome them and be victorious that takes courage and strength. the beauty is, just like with any muscle, whenever their is resistance applied and a push back given in the face of resistance, do we see strength and growth occur. our courage, our hearts, require healthy doses of resistance in order to grow strong. whatever you’ve set your heart to do, be brave in your doing. discouragement can always be turned on its head and be the stepping stone to CATAPULT you to your goal. if the dream is in you, it only means you were meant to see it as a reality. Be Brave and keep creating!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Guard Your Future: A Quote

Stop cheating on your Future with your Past” ~ Pastor Kenny, Associate Pastor of Covenant Church

The phrase sounds simple enough, but it is often the simple things in life that cause people to stumble the most. We all know that it is true.

But then, maybe the quote isn’t that simple. What does it really mean?

To not cheat on your Future with your Past, is to not allow the “baggage” and the “failures” of yesterday-be they your own failures or those of someone else-to keep you from embracing the goodness that is ahead.  Chain

We have all heard the saying (and I paraphrase) “You can’t drive your car through the rear view mirror.” Well trying to do so is the equivalent of allowing your eye to wonder back towards the past instead of being committed to the opportunity of the present future.

If we take this attitude into a romantic relationship, constantly thinking about our old partner, we are destined for failure.

Holding on to yesterday becomes nothing short of a robbing bondage. We lose everything if we don’t let go. We have to divorce yesterday.

We as creative people, are some of the blessed few who have embraced the power of our imaginations, but even we can miss the mark by living in the past.

Shake off the chains of yesteryear and set your mind firmly on the goals ahead. Commit yourself to them and achieve them. So what you failed in your last attempts. Take on the attitude of Thomas Edison (I believe it was he who said this) by embracing the mindset that you have not failed but found another way of doing it wrong.

As the Apostle Paul said-a man responsible for killing man believers in Yeshua before he, himself, became a believer and spread the Gospel of Grace and Truth further than any other:

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Let yesterday go and take firm hold of tomorrow. Do like the rapper Ma$e said, and make it your gospel; Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it go!

Cheers!

I came for the soup.dpp widgets