Rethinking Lent

It’s been whirlwind tornado crazy around here the past couple weeks. A lot of it has to do with this hole in the ground….

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More on that later. I have some fun things to show you, but it’s Ash Wednesday, and I want to share something that touched my heart and shook my socks.

I had no idea what Lent was until my early 20s. The idea of the Lenten fast wasn’t something I contemplated until later in adulthood. I can’t remember exactly when I adopted the practice, but I do remember my desire was to be intentional about considering Jesus’ sacrifice.  Over the years I’ve tried hard to choose what I fast based on the amount of sacrifice for me – the point isn’t for it to be easy.  A few years ago I fasted chocolate, which was sheer torture because I forgot that my birthday falls smack in the middle of Lent, and I had to have not-chocolate cake that year. But as I willed myself to honor my commitment it made me think about the garden of Gethsemane and how easy it would have been for Jesus to walk away. And that’s what makes the struggle real, isn’t it? Denying my wayward heart for the heart of God.   And is there really anything I could give up that comes close to all Jesus gave?
Then there’s also the temptation to make the fast about giving up things that are bad for us –  like a 40 day no-fast-food kick-start – with hopes that it will become a habit by time Easter rolls around. Can anyone else relate?

Last week I read this post by Kim at Given Breath and it felt like fresh air floating through an open window. Go ahead and take a peek. Soak it in. I’ll wait….
As I read my insides sighed, yes!, and I began earnestly praying about something more meaningful to focus on this season. And it’s been hard,  because there are so many things I could abstain from.
I want to be the celebratory, hospitable, generous, and thankful person Kim speaks of, so this year I am approaching my fast in a different way. A deeper way. A growing way.

Scared is the New Brave

When I began this blog, my goal was simple – to create fearlessly. I figured if I was struggling with it someone else out there probably was, too. That goal remains in the back of my mind as I continue to fight the perfection monster and reclaim the child-like joy of creating. Fear has no place in creativity. We are made in the image of the Master Creator and He only asks us to show up. How’s that for no pressure? Show up and be who you are.  Too often I allow fear to keep me from awesome things. I listen to what-ifs and turn back to “safe.” Safe is boring. Safe doesn’t reach our goals. Safe doesn’t spark life, it hastens death.

This arrived in my in box from Lisa Jo Baker.  Not only do I love its message, it’s my colors, and I thought it would look fabulous here.  It’s big enough to print out and hang on your wall as a healthy reminder.

That-thing-youre-too-scared-to-try.-Do-it-anyway.-lisajobaker.com_

More Than Just 15 Minutes of Fame

I stumbled upon this video soon after it was posted, and it’s totally gone viral. An unknown voice teacher is randomly selected from an audience to sing a duet with Kristin Chenoweth, becoming an instant celebrity when she nails it. It’s a real life dream-come-true story. Kristin was all class, and made some wonderful comments after the performance.

Then there’s the story about the 96 year old man who says he’s not a songwriter and can’t sing… but he enters a song writing contest to honor his late wife of 73 years. The producers of the contest love his heart and honor him in an amazing way. Have a tissue handy. 😉

Sarah and Fred weren’t looking for their 15 minutes of fame. They were everyday people acting on what they feel passionate about… and touched thousands as a result.  Kristin Chenoweth and Green Shoe Studio‘s willingness to push someone else into the spotlight is inspiring and refreshing.

Things That Make Me Happy

I find it sad when someone sees a happy person and says they’re “lucky” based merely on how they appear from afar.  Lucky is winning the lottery or getting that parking space up front. Happiness is not lucky, it’s a choice. It isn’t dependent on your circumstances. I believe gratitude is the thread that links happy people. It’s too easy to get tricked into focusing on what isn’t right in our lives, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll miss out. Stopping to notice the things that excite, inspire and warm us is a good exercise to keep the balance.

Here are some things that make me happy –  in no particular order:

1. A man who looks at me like I’m the most beautiful woman in the world. (I think he needs glasses, but that’s okay!)
2. Being a mother. It’s my favorite.
3. A sunbeam to sit in.
4. Birds on a wire make me smile without fail.
5. Playing with sparklers.
6. Color – I looooooove colors. All of them. Together.
7. Fabric and its possibilities
8. A box of new crayons
9. Fireworks. I don’t ever want them to stop!
10. The feel of a book in my hands.
11. The electricity of brainstorming with creative people.
12. Open windows letting in the breeze.
13. All four seasons.
14. Cool grass on my bare toes.
15. Freshly baked bread. The smell, the texture, the warmth.
16. A homemade meal and all the people I love around the table. Bliss.
17. Our big backyard full of family and friends.
18. Creating. Quilting, drawing, painting, decorating, making things from toilet paper rolls…
19. Sister moments with special women.
20. The feeling of finishing a project!
21. Taking pictures.
22. Folding laundry. The feel of the fabric through my fingers, the warmth and the fresh smell.
23. A clean house.
25. Playing board games with my kids.
26. The beach.
27. Freshly shaved legs (mine).
28. A freshly shaved face (his).
29. Having a space to create – love my studio.
30. Chocolate. (remember, I said in no particular order)
31. The smell of freshly mowed grass.
32. Trees – their beauty and intricacy.
33. A good massage.
34. Rainbows made by chandelier crystals hung in my windows.
35. The smell after a hard rain.
36. Devotions with the Hunk in hushed tones before bed.
37. Laughing so hard I can’t breathe.
38. Antics with my sister. <3
39. Singing. I can’t not sing.
40. The feel of freshly washed sheets.
41. Having all of my kids under my roof at one time.
42. Crisp fall breezes.
43. Finding great bargains.
44. The way handwork feels between my fingers.
45. Playing with the band/orchestra. Being a small part of something magical… exhilarating.
46. Being outdoors.
47. The energy I feel after a hard workout.
48. The night sky loaded with stars.
49. Being on the water. Growing up, my family always had a boat, and it still invigorates me immensely.
50. Christmas lights.
51. Flowers
52. Playing in the snow.

Each time I proof read this I add a couple more things to the list…. and that’s the point. 😉  What makes you happy?

{Book} Nurture Your Creative Spirit

A few years ago I wrote a post about quilt artist and teacher, Vikki Pignatelli, and her willingness to help a newbie quilt artist. I finally had the opportunity to meet and work with Vikki in person, and she is the real deal.

In the spirit of creating fearlessly, I want to rave about her new book, Nurture Your Creative Spirit: Wisdom and Insight Learned Through the Art of QuiltingThough Vikki’s insight is gleaned from her quilting journey, the truths contained in her book apply to any artist, regardless of your chosen medium.

Vikki writes in a style that feels like you’re snuggled into a big, comfy chair, sipping tea with a close friend while she shares the behind-the-scenes of her creative process. She discusses traits that nurture creativity (humor, flexibility, curiosity), and how our life experiences can influence our art and foster creative growth if we let it. Full of rich photos and practical advice, this is a book you will go back to again and again.

You can see a sneek preview of the book here.

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Messy and Unexpected on a Tuesday

I was excited when Emily announced that Tuesdays Unwrapped would return for the month of December. Then last Friday hit, and I wondered if I’d have the oomph to even bother. I read her post today and saw the theme for the month – “celebrating the lovely, the messy and the unexpected” – and I cried. Again. Because the messy and unexpected has rattled my cage hard. And I wondered what in the world I could muster up to celebrate that.

Friday my sister was diagnosed with a sneaky type of breast cancer. All-of-a-sudden her world is upside down and her days are consumed with doctors and emotions. A mastectomy looms large before the year is up. I’m 900 miles away and can’t kiss it better. I hate that.

So my Tuesday attempt centers around the thought of my lovely sister battling an unexpected enemy. But every miracle begins with a mess… so I’m unwrapping His treasures hidden in dark places.

Animation Camp is a Wrap!

The past two weeks I had the opportunity to be a part of Regent’s Film Camp teaching the Animation track. What a blast!!  I had five campers, and we covered a lot of material in that short time. It was super exciting watching the lights come on in these young minds as I helped them draw their creativity to the surface.

My favorite part of camp was joint time we spent each morning with all the campers. Our theme for the week was Creation (God’s first act recorded in the bible) and our role as artists. We began the day with a film clip of some sort, and the instructors took turns presenting short devotionals that fit our theme.
This time was a watering hole of sorts for me.

It reminded me of how very much I love film and art and creating.  Even working with high-schoolers creating silly short films is magical. It also reignited my passion to change the perception of what people consider “Christian” art.

Leaping Creatively

There’s something super fun about a year with an extra day in it.

To celebrate, here’s a list of leaps you can take to create fearlessly:
~Try a new technique
~Try a new product
~Take a class to learn something you’ve said, “I could never do that” about
~Teach a friend a technique that’s new to him/her
~Pick a project from a book you bought but haven’t used yet and MAKE IT!
~Make art using a color you don’t like
~Don’t use your favorite color for a month. Pretend it doesn’t exist
~Sketch one item from each room in your home. Write a silly story that uses all of them as illustrations.
~Sign up for a challenge
~Take a favorite drawing from your sketchbook and paint it on a wall in your home
~Show your art to strangers
~Buy a pair of boots that you LOVE. Wear them when you try something scary and use them to kick fear out of the way!

Some of these ideas might seem easy-peasy to you. Don’t do those. Do the ones that scare you. That is the whole point of the exercise – pushing fear out of the way to free our creativity.

Love Notes

The day started at 5:15 trying to pry teens from their beds after staying up too late, followed by an acid-inducing race to get them to school on time. By time I arrived home the Hunk had already left for work. I didn’t get to say good-bye.
It’s silly, but on this particular morning that small fact cracked the last vestige of my composure. The tears were ready to spill when I walked in and saw a note on top of the mayonnaise I left out. A love note from my husband.
It quickly reminded me of the love notes God sends to me daily. A word here. A lyric there. An act of kindness from a stranger. An unexpected delight. Something silly that makes me smile. The little things He uses to whisper I’m here, and I love you to my heart.

The Enemy Called Resistance

I’ve been working on some storyboards, which is no big deal unless your hands have forgotten how to interpret what’s in your head.  That’s exactly what was happening to me. I couldn’t draw a stick man. There were wads of paper all over the floor. I wasn’t sure what I was battling, but I was sure I was losing miserably.
Now that the storyboards are complete I can laugh about it, but still wonder why it had to be so. hard.
I discovered a powerful little book gives the answer –  “The War of Art”, by Steven Pressfield.
His thesis on what he calls Resistance can be life-changing. With straight-up clarity Pressfield exposes Resistance and its tactics to thwart our dreams, goals and growth.
The challenge comes in applying what you read, but the truth contained in this volume has the potential for being the kick in the pants you’ve been looking for, regardless the goal. It applies to everything from weight-loss to writer’s block.
Resistance is the enemy.
Creating is a birthing process. Pulling something new out of ourselves hurts!!! But WOW the excitement when we look at what we’ve accomplished, right?
 I love when I muscle my way through something that stretches every limit I thought I had, only to discover there is more to me than I knew. What if I were willing to voluntarily muscle my way through more in order to create more? Now that I have a better idea what I’m fighting, I’m determined to recognize Resistance and get on with the business of creating.