Book study

We Will Make Art: Becoming Living Art – Week 12

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Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.  It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got. –
Steven Prosfield, The War of Art

To create art means coming to accept that which you have to create.  What is it that the Creator has put inside of us that screams to be released, to make a difference?  God has gifted each one of us with unique qualities, gifts and talents and the only requirement is that we say “yes”.  When we withhold our art from the world, we are cheating those around us from the blessing of our contribution.

But this making of art, it can cause a fear so deep in me that I become immobilized, afraid to step out, for fear of failure.  But when I choose to remain in that place, unwilling to move forward, the world misses out.  He made me to partner with Him to bring His glory to this earth.  It’s glory in both the small and the big.  All of life is art.  It starts with saying yes, despite fear.  It begins with a heart, completely yielded to the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, one who cries, “show me what the Father is doing so that I can do it too.”

[Tweet “A heart yielded to God will move with Him, not against Him.”]

Whenever we set out to do something we are passionate about, we will always contend with fear.  But when we partner with fear, we will be shut down, unable to walk forward to partner with God in what He is doing on the earth.  So when it gets hard, we must remember who we are — we are image bearers.  We have been given His power, His love and a sound mind.  Even though we may encounter fear, the spirit of fear does not live in us.  The Spirit of God does!

You carry something inside you.  There will be pain to get it out. –
A Million Little Ways

As artists, there will be pain in the journey of releasing art.  God will call us to step out of our comfort zone, to walk in a way we’ve never gone before, to present our art to a world of question and critical eyes.  Not all will embrace what we create.  Not all will understand the artists we are inside.  Whether you create art at home, at a job, in a studio, or at your computer, you are an artist.  God is calling us to a new level of bravery as He calls us out upon the water.

In order to release the art we were made to live, we must first embrace who we are as artists.

You may not paint,
but your life before God is a canvass just waiting to be made beautiful.
You may not have published a book,
but the words you write will have an eternal impact on those who read them.
You may not sing,
but your voice echoes a unique melody just waiting to be heard.
You may not be a stay-at-home mom,
but you are making art as you give of your talents every day to help provide for your family.

Uncovering the art you were born to live takes desire, passion and bravery. Releasing the art you were made to live takes courage to continue to pursue it, despite fear, rejection and misunderstanding.

As the poetry of God, all our hands make a different kind of art and we create with our successes and our failures, our talents and our shortcomings, our instruments and our yard rates, our numbers and our calloused hands.  Nothing is off-limits.  – A Million Little Ways

As this is the last post in my series on Becoming Living Art, I would like to share the Artist’s Manifesto from Emily’s book, A Million Little Ways.  May it be a blessing to you!

Artist’s Manifesto

We are the mothers, the lovers, the nighttime storytellers.
We are the hopers, the fathers the harmonizers.
We are the visionaries, the silent supporters, the leaders and the background singers.

We are the servants, the musicians, and the politicians; the waiters, the washers, and the obstetricians.
We are the thinkers and we are the believers.

We are the dust and the brushstroke, the poets and the poetry, the weak empowered, the broken made whole.
We are the mirrors of God on the earth, the megaphones of glory, the hands and eyes and hearts of heaven.

We are grieved but not hopeless, brought from darkness into light, given a new name, a new future,
a new power alive within us.

God is the Artist and he has made us.
We are his poem and we will make art.

Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways

Thank you for allowing me to share my insight and revelation as I’ve processed through this  book. If you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend that you do.  I hope to have a button on my sidebar soon with all of the posts in this series for easy reference.

Faith

Embrace Wonder: Becoming Living Art – Week 11

wonder

The ease with which I am able to release the art I was made to live seems directly related to my willingness to embrace wonder. – A Million Little Ways

Wonder – a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

This wonder, it’s everywhere I look.  It’s in the cry of a new born baby.  It’s in the majesty of a mountaintop and how it’s peek appears to touch the sun.  It’s in the gentle breeze which whispers heaven’s voice.  It’s in the miracle of healing, forgiveness and restoration.

There is so much wonder to be held if we would slow down, open our eyes wide, and breathe it in.  However, we often miss it, exchanging it for quick or backwards glances as it passes us by.

Life can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried. – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Wonder, it must be taken in, touched and held.  It must be seen through the eyes of child-like faith, a faith that stays, abides, waits and hopes for it to be unraveled in the palm of its hand.

The wonder of God can only been seen through the eyes of one who is seeking it out. We rush through life, with our eyes half open, hoping to catch a glimpse of beauty.  We are overtaken by the mundane, the same theme which plays over and over again in our mind, that which dulls our senses to the awakening of wonder.

But isn’t God the wonder?  If so, then our eyes must be continually seeking to see Him in all things.

I love to take walks in the fall.  It’s my favorite time of year.  Outside, the air is cool and crisp and I marvel at how the leaves change color, seemingly overnight.  I stare at the moon, how when I was a little girl I thought I could see a face, and I marveled at how it looked so close I could almost touch it. I would watch the sun rise on a brisk fall morning and throw my head back as the warmth of the rays beat down upon my face, marveling in awe and wonder of the beauty of creation.

[Tweet “What if we approached life the same way we marveled at the wonder of His creation?”]

All creation speaks of the wonder of God.  Like rhythmic poetry, it rises and falls, weaves and entertwines, awakens and sleeps.  If we listen closely, the earth sings forth her beauty.  If we pay attention, our ears will hear the sounds of wonder, from the coo of a dove to the laughter of a child.  If we lean in close, we will but catch a glimpse of the marvelous handiwork of God.

Part of embracing the wonder of God’s creation is embracing our unique design as artists.  It doesn’t matter how you make art.  What matters is that you make it.  We each have unique giftings and talents to use to display the beauty of God.  Whether that is what surrounds you at your job, the day-to-day challenges of raising little ones, the stringing together of words on a page, or the anticipation that awaits you in a blank canvass, it is all wonder.

Let us open our eyes and embrace the wonder all around us.  For when we are able to see Him in all things, our hearts will be awakened to wonder as we display the art we were made to live.

Artist brushes with a half finished painted color canvas

This is the eleventh post in a series entitled Becoming Living Art. Each Monday I will share what God has revealed to my own heart while reading through Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live.  I was not paid in any way for my thoughts or quotes.  I would highly recommend you read the book.  It’s really good!

*photo credit

Book study

When You’re Called To Wait: Becoming Living Art – Week 9

Becoming Living Art _ week 9

Much good happens in the space where nothing is happening. – Christa Wells, singer/songwriter

Oh how I’ve struggled for the words to share this week.  For I am right in the middle of my season of waiting.  Just when I think I’m ready to pick it all up again, He again asks me to wait. At a loss for words of my own, I will be quoting more from Emily’s book, A Million Little Ways, than I have in previous weeks.  It’s just so good and speaks to my heart so well in this season.

You are in a season of waiting.  When you finally show up ready to release your art by being the person you believe you are created to be, there may be nothing more disheartening than to be asked to wait.  The waiting can drive us mad if we let it.  It can become a merciless dictator, shoving us into shapes we aren’t made for, shapes of worry and doubt and short tempers.

But the waiting can also grow us, shape us from the inside out for sacred work.  This is a kind of work that happens only in the secret place of abiding in the presence of Christ even in the midst of broken dreams and tired circumstances.

There is still movement in the waiting, though it may be hard to see.  A Million Little Ways,

In the waiting, I move toward God.

As I’ve struggled through the place of worry, doubt and fear on this journey, I am realizing all the more that this sacred space must continually be brought as an offering before the Lord.  I must remain completely yielded to God and His way.  And so in the struggle, I move toward God. There is no place else for me to run but straight into His loving embrace.  And there, He will whisper to my heart His will.  I am clinging to the promise that even in this season when it’s hard, when I can’t see what is ahead, when I often cannot feel Him in the midst of it, I know that He is moving on my behalf.

In the waiting, I see with new eyes.

I am uncovering it, a piece at a time.  The work is finished somewhere invisible. Fear says I am going to do it wrong.  Doubt says I won’t find it at all.  But hope?  Hope says, Wait.  It’s just a little farther.  You are not alone and this is not just your idea.

The real art is the invisible work happening in the depths of my soul as I uncover, sink, see, listen and wait.  A Million Little Ways.

So I begin to see with new eyes.  I begin to peer deep into a heart, hidden in Christ.  Tucked away in the darkness where only He is light, I wait.  And I open my eyes to all that is before me, while fixing my gaze steadily on the person of Jesus.  My life must remain hidden with Christ in God.  I must allow the Master Potter to come, again and again, and chisel away all that I hold firmly in my grasp.  For I cannot hold onto anything if I am to be used to bring Him glory.  I must remain His — fully, completely, withholding nothing.

Will I trust Him?

In the waiting, I learn to trust.

I have come to a place where I must let go, realizing that I can no longer control the outcome. All I can do is yield, surrender, offering it back up to Him for His glory.  Yet at the same time, there is fear — fear of the unknown, fear from this broken and bruised vessel that would ask, “Surely, Lord, you would not call me to lay down this art?”

What if the answer is what I fear most?  Would I still say yes?  Would I be willing to lay it all down for the sake of knowing Him?

[Tweet “Perhaps in the waiting, my heart is learning the sacrifice of a heart that is completely His.”]

God does things differently.  He said, Let there be light, but then he waited a full day before he spoke again.  And on the last day, he rested.  He built waiting into creation. From the incarnation to the resurrection, divine creativity begins and ends with waiting. – A Million Little Ways

He moves in the inner, upside-down, individual way and he places himself within us — those of us who, like Mary, say yes.  He moves in our desires and then waters them, suns them and sometimes dries them up.  He always provides, but not always in the way we think he ought to.  – A Million Little Ways.

We must not lose hope in the waiting, for waiting paves the way for art.

The painful process of growth.

When my children were young, they would often have growing pains in their legs at night. They would call out to me, and I would find them laying in bed crying desperately for the pain to go away.  All I could do was hold them, pray for them and reassure them that soon the pain would be gone.  I would have done anything I could as a mother to prevent this process of growth.  But where there is growth, there is most often pain.

Be faithful to plant.  Release the growing to God.  Open up clenched fists and let the seeds drop into the ground, let them burrow down deep and do their secret work in the dark.  Sacred shaping happens in the waiting. – A Million Little Ways

So what is our part in the waiting?

Show up.  Show up in that place where you are already fully alive.  Embrace the mysterious and invisible work of Christ even when it looks as if nothing is happening.  Move toward God.  Give Him your all.  Open your eyes to all that is around you, and find the beauty that lies before you. Lean into His presence and trust, even if the process is painful.

Artist brushes with a half finished painted color canvas

This is the ninth post in a series entitled Becoming Living Art. Each Monday I will share what God has revealed to my own heart while reading through Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live.  I was not paid in any way for my thoughts or quotes.  I would highly recommend you read the book.  It’s really good!

Book study

Of Tears And Dreams: Becoming Living Art – Week 7

LivingArt_Week 7

The art of listening involves so much more than my ears and someone’s voice.  It involves my heart, my mind, will and emotions and it involves paying attention to the world around me as well as how my body reacts to certain things.  After reading Chapter 7 in A Million Little Ways, I have realized that I am still learning to listen.

Listening To My Tears.

I’ve referred to her before, Little Girl Lost.  She’s the one I carried with me most of my life, who never felt she had a voice, a purpose, a destiny, or that anyone cared deeply enough about her to want to help her succeed.  But I am thankful today that she’s been found, this little girl, no longer lost.  But I am still coming into my own.  I am still understanding who it is I was created to be and learning to embrace that which make me come fully alive.

A few years ago, I walked by this painting which was done by a fellow artist at my church.  It caused such a deep stirring in my heart, such deep emotion that all I could do was weep.  I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but after a while I realized I had been weeping for Little Girl Lost as the the image of the young girl on the swing hit me hard.  I don’t remember my daddy or mommy pushing me on a swing.  I am sure they did.  They must have.  But whether they did or didn’t, I realized at that moment that Little Girl Lost had been found by her Heavenly Father, and in that moment He was standing behind me pushing me on the swing.  This painting brought so much healing to my heart.

In that moment, my tears were speaking, and I was coming alive to the hope of a Father in heaven who embraced me as His own, and who would run through a field of wild flowers with me, or push me on a swing.  He is with me and is taking Little Girl Lost on a journey of being found.

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Maybe our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message — Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design.  Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you of those things that make you come alive.  These tears carry the gift of your desire. Listen to them. – A Million Little Ways, pg. 110-11.

I remember that day so vividly.  Yet there haven’t been many days since where the tears have flowed freely.  I think sometimes I put up protective walls around my heart, not allowing myself to feel any emotion, good or bad, so that I won’t have to get in touch with my feelings.

But I’ve been asking. I’ve been asking God to open the flood gates of my heart so that I can fully embrace the emotions that He’s placed inside of me.  I know that He’s given me deep desires.  I know that He’s given me passions.  I know that He’s placed within me a burden for the broken, the imprisoned, the orphan, those who are sick.  “Come, Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.”

Listening To My Crazy Thoughts.

I have some dreams swirling around in my head and in my heart.  Things I fear to speak out loud. What if I were to fail?  What if these desires are just mine, and God never intended them to be? So I keep them hidden, tucked away in the crevice of my heart.  Only God knows they are there, these crazy thoughts and ideas which may die with me should I not get the courage to step out.

Over the years, that dream may have taken on different names in your mind:  Silly. Ridiculous. Hobby. Foolish. Impossible. Waste of time.  You have called it names for so long that perhaps you have never actually taken the time to consider how it got there in your pocket in the first place.   We throw trash away; we don’t put trash in our pockets.  Your dream is there because at one time you saw its value.  And so you tucked it away for safekeeping.  But doubt and fear have convinced you to keep it hidden, convinced you to rename that dream Wrong. – A Million Little Ways, pg. 120.

Today, I’m asking Him to uncover the deep movement of my heart.  I don’t want to be numb to the pain of this world.  I don’t want to bury my own pain, my own passionate desires so deep that I am no longer moved.  I want Jesus to come and overwhelm me with His love so much that I cannot contain my emotions.  And then I want Him to allow the tears to flow, for in them is healing.

Today, I’m asking Him to help me to begin to pursue the crazy thoughts in my head and heart.  I am asking Him to give me the faith to believe that my desires are actually His desires, and that He will give me the desires of my heart as I lean in and trust Him.

What are you asking Him to do for you today?  What is it that moves you to tears?  What is one crazy dream you have?  I would love for you to share in the comments below.

*photo credit: -Reji via photopin cc

Artist brushes with a half finished painted color canvas

This is the seventh post in a series entitled Becoming Living Art. Each Monday I will share what God has revealed to my own heart while reading through Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live.  I was not paid in any way for my thoughts or quotes.  I would highly recommend you read the book.  It’s really good!