How I Rediscovered Creativity and Resurrected My Passion

creativity

A little over a year ago, a mentor of mine told me that God was getting ready to wreck me – that He was going to knock down the structures I had built in my life and rebuild them from the ground up.

Well, that wrecking came a few months ago. Somewhere in the middle of my crazy fall semester of 18 credit hours, working part time, and volunteering several hours a week, I began to crumble. Exhausted, spiritually anemic, and weary to the depths of my soul, I knew something needed to change. I had forgotten how to be a human being and had become a human doing instead. Limping along on busyness and productivity like crutches for my broken heart, I was hiding from a deeper issue – anger and disappointment with God over some things that had happened during the year.

Yet even while I was throwing a spiritual tantrum, He was showing me things – really ugly, uncomfortable things about myself. The more I tried to fix myself and make it feel okay, the worse things became. I thought if I just planned better, tried harder, and accomplished more then maybe I would deserve the things I wanted, maybe I would be enough, and maybe I would be happy. It wasn’t working and I had to stop.

Christmas break finally came and I spent the last few weeks of 2016 slowing, exhaling, letting go, lingering with family, playing, coloring, laughing, listening. I prayed over and over,

Alright, God, I’m done striving and I’m done hiding. What do You want? What should I do now?

And each time I prayed, the unmistakable answer came. Do you trust Me?

I think so…

Then wait.

*sigh* Okay, God.

In the waiting and the resting, my tension and anxiety-bound heart began to unravel. Somewhere in the midst of coloring books and mugs of French press coffee and family reading and lingering conversations, the healing came. For months, years even, I had been finding my value in what I could do and the things I accomplished. But there, sitting around the table with colored pencils and stories and laughter, I found the value of simply being. Something in me began to reawaken.

One of my gifts at Christmas was a book on living a creative life and how the life we live is our greatest work of art. I underlined and highlighted and cried my way through those pages. In them, I found something that I had been denying myself for a long time – permission. Permission to create for the sake of creating. Permission to be creative because that’s how God created me to be. Permission to be artistic, and not just useful.

I grew up in a creative home, but somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that pursuing creativity and art was play and could only be enjoyed when all the work was done (so basically never…there’s always something more important and useful to do, right?). With this deep belief, my inner artist – along with the part of me that dreams and delights and wonders – began to suffocate under responsibilities and obligations and to-do lists. And I wondered why I felt so lifeless. I found little to no passion in my job, relationships, or even the hobbies I once loved.

But this simple and powerful read changed my thinking drastically and shifted something deep within me. I began to realize that I was created by a creative God, who made me in His image and thus designed me to be creative; therefore, He delights in my creativity. The act of being creative in itself glorifies Him. This new thought was revolutionary. I began to explore the idea and the ramifications of living out such a novel belief. It began to make sense, and take root. God intended for me to create beautiful things, just like He does. God is an artist, and so am I.

With the new year came, not resolutions and detailed plans like usual, but instead a commitment to cultivate creativity in my life every day. My word for the year was clear: create. More specifically, create space – space for health (spiritual, mental, and physical), relationships, and creativity to flourish.

At a conference during the first week of 2017, the Lord gave me a mental image of a city leveled to the ground. Where once stood structures and strongholds remained nothing but wreckage; it looked barren. He told me that this is what I looked like at the moment, but it was because He was getting ready to lay new foundations and put up new buildings that will be stronger, taller, and more beautiful than the ones before. I was finally ready.

isaiah

I’m recognizing that I am not the architect of my life and that is a good thing, for even my biggest plans and dreams are far inferior to those of my Creator. My job is to listen and to follow His instructions. As I am faithful to lay each board and hammer each nail, He will bring the project to completion, though I may never see the blueprint. Often my hammer slips, catching my thumb and causing pain, or my nail goes in crooked and I have to pry it out and try again, but the Great Architect is deeply patient. He guides and steadies my hand, as He designs a structure more elaborate and beautiful than I could ever image.

And with this conviction, I have begun to lay foundations. Over the past several weeks, I have thought long and hard about my core beliefs and values – the truths that my life is built on – as well as the things I need to let go of, and the way I should structure my days. Living with purpose means being intentional in every area of my life. Learning how to be faithful in these small things is preparing me for the much bigger things that the Lord has planned.

One of the ways I am laying blocks for a firm foundation is by having a daily “morning space.” This is where I recenter, practice letting go, fill myself with truth, and position my heart to be molded and my mind to be renewed. I am also learning how to pray boldly and specifically, both for myself and for those around me. Beginning my days with intention, gratitude, and faith is changing everything, most importantly, the way I see. I don’t do this perfectly, but keep pressing on, standing back up when I falter and taking another step forward. Little by little I am being rebuilt in the quiet and secret spaces, where a foundation always begins.

My creative space is a little less structured, but it is just as centering and strengthening. Through stream-of-conscious journaling, I am learning to show up daily with no judgments, no expectations, and no criticism, just honesty and enough bravery to begin, giving myself permission to think and feel and write whatever comes. I am also rediscovering my love for photography, drawing, and hand lettering with daily practice to hone and sharpen my skills. Baby steps toward big dreams.

Over the past few weeks of pursuing these practices and habits, I have come alive in ways I didn’t think possible. My relationships are far healthier. Fresh dreams and ideas and inspiration come to me on a daily basis. I feel more passionate about life and no longer shrink in fear and anxiety when I think about the future. I don’t know what it holds but the possibilities feel endless and exciting, rather than terrifying and crippling. I am discovering the beauty around me and realizing that the process is far more important than the destination. It’s not where I’m going that matters, but who I become on the journey. And what a glorious, exciting, creative journey it will be.

 

 

I hope that you are inspired through my words today. I hope that you will think about them and be moved to take action, whether it be as simple as starting a new creative project, or as big as rethinking your core beliefs and values. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts or questions or struggles regarding these things. Please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email.

Also, I am beginning a new creative endeavor over at www.graceelaine.org where I will be focusing more on my creative journey and sharing the things I learn along the way. If you consider yourself to be a creative person, or would like to be one, I would love to connect with you over there. It is a safe space for all creatives and aspiring artists. In addition to that, I am beginning a 100-day creative project where I will be sharing daily work and thoughts over here.

Thank you for sticking with me through this terribly long post! Blessings!

How I Rediscovered Creativity and Resurrected My Passion

The Truth About Coming Home

I’ve learned, as a writer, that there are certain words you can’t force.

There are times when you must write even though you don’t feel inspired and that can certainly be useful, but there are certain times you can’t.

These are the words that come from quietness and pondering; the kind that seem to overflow from somewhere deep within.

This is what I have found to be true.

IMG_1486e

I have been back on US soil for over a month now and I’ve wanted to write about it all – how crazy and scary and amazing the past 9 months have been – but I couldn’t. The words weren’t ready.

But as I’ve began to finally settle into a rhythm in this new-old life and discovered that it’s far harder (and far easier) than I anticipated, words have been simmering at the back of my mind and in my spirit.

And when 4 different people (who you didn’t even know read your blog) in the last two weeks ask about your old blog and if you still write on it because you should…you know it’s time.

IMG_0092eprof

For me writing has always been about breakthrough, about sorting through the pieces after a storm and making sense of it all, turning it into something beautiful, something useful, and passing it back to those who follow.

But lately there has been this whisper in my spirit – something about writing humble, about not having some wisdom to offer after everything is alright, but being something to offer in the midst of the process. Something like carrying hope alongside the hurting and not merely throwing it back from the finish line.

I’ve been humbled a lot over the past few months – had my eyes opened to who I am without God, when I loose sight of His way and misplace His Lordship with my own. It’s a terrifying thing to realize you are capable of doing the very things you’ve judged others for.

And I’ve prided myself in being a non-judgemental person, an empathetic. But sometimes God strips away the person we think we are, and shows us what we really are apart from His grace.

banner

No part of me wanted to leave Indonesia. And I had plans to stay. I had it all worked out in my head how I was going to make it happen. But that last Friday in April I was offered a choice that wasn’t really a choice to return to the US and continue my studies. I cried ugly for a whole weekend, threw a lot of questions at God. Yet His only answer was the same thing He always says,

Do you trust Me?

So I swallowed hard my plans and my tears, packed two suitcases, and hugged my friends and life in Bali goodbye.

IMG_1116e

I know this is just a season. And I’ve come to understand why I’m here. The Lord has work I need to do, people I need to talk to, things I need to learn. It’s a process. I’m learning patience, trust, and discipline.

But I now have a job that I love and is challenging and stretching me in new ways. My church is launching a new campus in a different part of town and I get to be a part of that. I am meeting new people and building relationships and making connections. I have an opportunity to study at a great university with wonderful professors. God is good. He is really good.

IMG_1680e

I’ve learned that you can’t force things, and sometimes you can’t choose.

There are times when you must follow blindly, just trust that He knows what He’s doing, that He really truly does know best.

And with quietness and pondering,

This is what I have found to be true.

~Grace

 

P.S. I am thoroughly enjoying being back with my family. ❤

IMG_1438e

The Truth About Coming Home

Indonesia Has My Heart

IMG_7610September comes and I hit the ground running.

Day one brings school ministries and lunch meetings and new faces.

IMG_8190Everyday new faces. And trying to remember all the names when most of them are Asian and unusual…I’m getting there.

Day three brings community and new-found family and I knew that very first gathering that I was all in. Happy tears. Grateful tears.

IMG_7623Suddenly I could see how everything had been leading up to this. Because all of my hobbies fall into place here and all of my skills and experience are being called on and this, this is where God has been working to bring me all this time.

It all made sense now.

Suddenly my planner is full and everyday holds new adventures and good food and genuine friendships.

IMG_8807[1]Suddenly meetings are my favorite because when great minds and big hearts get together to dream and plan, amazing things start working themselves out.

I’ve never encountered a community so passionate and creative and infectious.

IMG_8459

These people are changing Bali. And it won’t be long before the ripples start reaching other shores. I have no doubt.

Because here the dreams are big and the faith is bigger and impossible situations are simply opportunities for God to step in.

Indonesia has captured my heart.    IMG_7954

IMG_8298

IMG_7520

Indonesia Has My Heart

What It Means to Be Hungry

My year begins, but not with the strength and resolve I had hoped for. Usually I have big resolutions and elaborate goals, but not this time.

Instead my year begins with weakness. With blood tests and anemia and liver distress and oh so that explains the deep weariness and heavy spirit.

My vegan stint was short-lived. I stood for a cause and neglected all it required and now there are supplements three times a day and this awful liquid iron that tasted like rancid orange juice or something and sometimes we don’t realize the consequences of our actions until things are falling apart.

I would forget to eat. I would get busy and forget and neglect…both body and soul.

They starve silently. The kind of starving that creeps in slowly, a weariness that slips into every bone, touches every thought like icy fingers – numbing.

I remember my hands cupped around the familiar mug from my favorite coffee shop. Is something wrong with me? The bestie sat across from me with quiet eyes and shook her head. But I can’t feel anything…

They say that if you stop eating, after a while, you stop being hungry and just ache deep – your body is just trying to survive.

Same with the soul. I had noticed last year, like clockwork, how to neglect my spirit-man for three days was to begin falling to pieces behind the fragile surface. I am not thick skinned and hunger bites though my fragile bones like uncooked spaghetti.

There are symptoms that hint to a deeper issue, like a whisper, something is wrong here. Sometimes we try to treat the symptoms instead of digging deep to the root to find the real problem. Like headaches and acne and exhaustion so we try pain meds and face washes and coffee…instead of recognizing our body’s cry for help. Sometimes the truth calls for harder solutions – honesty, humility, discipline.

Gentle doctor-eyes looked at me firm and said “You’re starving.” And I swallowed hard because I knew and it was time to pick up these pieces, these sorry bones and live once more.

So I read Scriptures like the supplements I take three times daily, not because I like them but because I know with time they will make me strong. I pick up a Piper book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. I cry and I journal and I fall back weary onto Him.

I eat. A lot. Or at least what feels like a lot.

A Tuesday night women’s bible study testimony cracks me right open and I wake 23 minutes before my alarm the next morning hungry for truth. All flames start small.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write to discover what I know.”

You are good and You do good. I journal in purple ink.

And slowly, I remember.

011215_GivingThanksIsOnlyThis_photo3

What It Means to Be Hungry

8.27.14

What I’m Doing:

I begin college this week! My books came in (finally!) yesterday and I’m so eager to dive in. I’m starting with 8 credits and hopefully I can hit it hard and start another 8 in a couple months. My goal is to take on a smaller chunk of courses at a time so I can focus more exclusively on each topic but still cover the same amount of material…we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

I decluttered my closet the other night when I couldn’t sleep. Still in the process of reducing my wardrobe. Minimizing isn’t easy, even if I’m not the type to get attached to stuff, but throwing away the things I don’t need feels wonderful. Trying to incorporate the 80/20 principle. I’ll post an update on that soon.

Also getting into the habit of waking up an extra hour early but going to bed on time is hard. 😛 (Though this and this are really good motivation.)

What I’m Reading:

Just finished The 4-Hour Work Week. Tim Ferriss. (Some cussing and questionable humor.) I highly recommend this if you want to be challenged on the definition of success that we have accepted as a society and be taught how to not waste your life doing what you don’t want (the 9-5) so maybe one day you can do what you do want (all your interests and hobbies and passions). I’m all ready to pack my backpack and take off on a six-month mini retirement…maybe next year??

The 4-Hour Chef. Ferriss shows step-by-step the most effective and efficient method of learning proficiently any skill in 3-6 months. Applying it to my Koine Greek studies. I’ll keep you posted.

4HC

What I’m Listening to:

Paper Towns. John Green. Oh tumblr, the things you make me do…

Ambient Piano

What I’m Obsessed with:

Iced coffee – coconut or almond milk, no sugar.

Coconut water. Yum.

iced coffee

What I’m Thinking About:

“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 AMP

Favorite apps this week:

Sleep Time
Memrise
FaceQ

image via, via

8.27.14