Created for Creating

creativityallume

Have you ever doubted your creativity?  Or, have you ever peeked at someone else’s creativity and wished you could have just a thimble-full of what they have?

I do.  All. The. Time.

It’s so hard in this noisy world to not have doubts about our gifts and talents.  I used to think that creativity was only about how well I could draw or paint (both of which are not my strengths). I often found myself measuring my value and worth against another person’s creative skills.

With social media being such a big part of our lives, it’s really hard not to compare ourselves to one another when we’re trying to find our own creative path.

For me, comparison became my every day posture.  I began to feel like I couldn’t measure up so I began using the word “just” in front of everything I did.

I’m just a mom.

I’m just a wife.

I’m just a student.

I’m just a blogger.

I’m just a writer.

Until one day a beautiful friend dared me to take my hand away from my mouth and confidently state the gifts that God had given to me.  The gifts that He had CREATED in me.

When God called the light out of darkness, when He pushed back the waters so dry land became visible, when he called the birds to the heights of heaven and the fish to the depths of the sea He didn’t waver or wonder.  Not at all, He simply stated each beautiful part of creation and called it good.

With us though it was different. Of all the things He created, we are the only ones who bear His image.  From the dust of the earth and the bone of man He breathed His very essence into us. He formed us from nothing and imbued us with His spirit.   We are Imago Dei.

We are His image bearers.

I forget that sometimes.  I forget how much of Him I carry with me in my every day.  I forget that He created me wonderfully and beautifully.  I forget that my own creativity was birthed first in His spirit, in His image.

Do you?  Do you forget?  Do you forget that your creativity is part of what links you to the heart of God?  Do you forget that He has made you to shine in whatever way makes your heart feel the pulse of His purpose?

For some of you your creativity is more about organization then painting.  For others, words dance across the page, while others find beauty in the neat columns and rows of an Excel spread sheet.

Some people see music like others see a sunset or the potential of a beautiful room before the cobwebs have been cleared.

The point is it doesn’t matter where your creativity lies.  What matters is that you see your creativity, no matter what it is, as your worship to God.

Remember, He breathed into you and you breathe out Him in your own wonderfully,  beautiful and creative way.

The Creator, created creators.

So be creative!  Allow others to see creativity through your eyes, it will ultimately lead them to the heart of the Savior.

A Better Future {Saint Bryce Missions}

St. Bryce's - A Better Future

When my husband and I founded St. Bryce Missions in 2010, this is what we knew: that God was asking us to open the door for Him to use our pain for the good of others. You see, the foundation is named for our sixth son, Bryce, our sweet baby boy who flew home to heaven in his sleep at three months old. It was a small “yes” to offer in our grief, a surrender to the fact that our pain could perhaps do some good in this world if we were willing to be generous with it.

We had no idea where it would lead and how our lives would look five short years later. But that small “yes” was big in that it was the first step out of our grief and into a life of purposeful, intentional “yes” living—where we began a discipline of saying the small “yes” to the thing that God was asking right now and leaving the growing impact of that “yes” to His doing.

By 2011, we were saying “yes” to moving our family to the rural mountains of Costa Rica to bring the Good News to an indigenous population living in isolated reserve lands there. And then “yes” to growing the vision of our work to reach other periphery communities around the world. And “yes” to helping mothers generate income for their families by starting a social enterprise initiative. And “yes” to helping local churches build the infrastructure they need to impact their communities.

And then one day in 2013, as we drove along the mountain paths, we found an indigenous mother walking with a small baby. We stopped to ask if she needed help, and she told us she was walking out to wait for an ambulance to bring her baby to the hospital. Looking at her worried face and the lethargic little one in her arms, I knew we could not leave her there. We waited with her until the ambulance arrived. And then I gave her my phone number and told her to call if she needed help. She did.

That night, we opened the doors to our home to her and her child, and she stayed with us for three days while her little one recovered. It opened our eyes to a very real need of the people we had come to serve. We found out that the indigenous population suffered infant mortality rates 5 times higher than the rest of Costa Rica because of lack of access to medical care, and the mothers’ inability to navigate the system without some kind of support. So the St Francis Emmaus Center, our outreach to indigenous mothers, was born with a single, small “yes”.

Nearly two years later, more than 170 mothers have been served at the center, which we run out of our home. This year, in the Costa Rican medical system’s official publication on their efforts to lower the infant mortality rate in the indigenous population, St. Bryce Missions’ efforts were cited as contributing to a 50% reduction in infant mortality in 2014.

Today, our days are filled with advocacy meetings with the Child Welfare Department and social workers, communications with medical staff, guiding moms through labor and early lactation, providing care for sick children. It is high impact, world-changing work and we are passionate about it.

But we never set out to change the world. We simply desired to move forward from our grief by embracing a life of “yes”, a life in which obedience to God’s promptings in small but faithful ways built the Kingdom here on earth.

We are firm believers in the fact that He wants to use all our stories in a similar way- He demands we be world-changers because this world needs more of Him. But that change doesn’t always look like a single high-impact, life-changing “yes”. More often, it is a series of small, obedient “yeses” offered one at a time. Our impact builds as our faithfulness becomes more consistent. The small “yeses” offered to the need right in front of us, over and over, becomes the building block God uses to change the world.

What “yes” can you give today that may seem small, but is building your impact for the Kingdom?

Share with us in the comments below and St. Bryce Missions will send three lucky commenters a special Costa Rican care package of locally produced coffee and other goodies, straight from our home to yours.

Greg
St. Bryce Missions

 

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More Than A Chicken-Stock Life

She sat on the stool at my kitchen island and helped me make chicken chowder while sipping on sweet iced tea. I gave her an old butcher-block cutting board, a bunch of carrots and my favorite knife.

The iron skillet sizzles with onions, garlic and celery as the soup pot heats the chicken stock. Its steam rises up like worship on Sunday.

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_MG_9876_MG_9879My friend chased the lemon in her glass with her finger, as her pregnant pause prepares to birth a new conversation.

Brushing back a renegade curl from her forehead she begins telling what is on her heart. “ I thought life would be different by now.”

“What were you expecting by this time?” My spoon begins to ladle the onion mixture into the chicken stock.

“More success as a writer than I have now. Every time I sit down to write, someone needs something. My writing is broken into a thousand little pieces. It feels like interruptions have crushed my creativity.” She lifts the lemon from her glass and bites it causing her face to twist into a knot.

Laughing, I wipe out the iron skillet and begin mixing the ingredients for cornbread.

As all the dishes cook, I motion her into my workroom. Showing her a bracelet I’m working on, I draw her attention to the cut pieces of silver scattered across the workbench. All of these cut pieces are involved in one bracelet.

At first, all of this looks like one big disaster. I work on it – walk away – work on it – walk away, until it finally begins to take the shape of a bracelet.

We walk back into the kitchen and I pour the hot soup into bowls.

Look at all those beautiful carrots you chopped up for this soup. On the chopping block it looked like a carrot massacre, but in the context of this soup they are morsels of rich flavor.

Interruptions, when you are trying to create your art can be frustrating. We need to try to slow a bit and ask God, “What are you showing me in this?”

Instead of a writing massacre, we may discover He is adding richness to our basic.

God wants more for us than a basic chicken-stock life.

Chicken stock life

God wants us to live life to the fullest because that is the life that brings us joy and Him Glory.

You can make a meal out of chicken broth and bread. But wouldn’t you rather have a meal with chicken, carrots, butter, cream and cornbread? If so, then it takes patience, and it takes things breaking into pieces before it can come together into something wonderful. 

“Oh Lord, how many are they works! In wisdom Thou hast made them all; The earth is full of Thy possessions. Psalm 104:24

Creamy Red Pepper (and chicken) Soup
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers preserved in water, drained
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • Breast meat from rotisserie chicken chopped fine. ( This is my addition to the recipe)

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Add finely chopped chicken, Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Recipe from the Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis

 

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A Call To Create And Cultivate (listen to the heartbeat of your calling)

A Call to Create and Cultivate

Two blue doors flung open wide, once a month, for every woman that dares to chooses to gather together. Where we learn to live a life of transparency and glean the words of other woman in the same seasons.

There is a raw realness when women gather together and their hearts crave the very best for their motherhood.

For three years, I have cleared the legos off the living room floor, put fresh cut flowers out on the table, made a simple snack and opened my front porch doors wide to the generations of mother’s.
There are pens, hair bands and other mysteries under my couch cushions.
The front door still shines fingerprints half way high and some nights we have a mom sweetly yell for a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom.
There is nothing more beautiful than creating a space that shines Jesus calling.


A room full of laughter, sharing the nitty gritty of motherhood and drinking tall glasses of iced lemonade.


No fancy finger foods, no guest speakers or programs.


Just us. The best of motherhood. Right there together. Real and raw.

And then one evening…it hit me.

These are my women. The ARE me.

We each represent the very thing that make our lives hard and yet beautiful on any given day.

But we make a conscientious choice every month to create a place, a personal connection and a priority to our calling.

I was called to live large in small ways.  Things. People. Purpose.

That could take me across the continent, across town or a great divide people.  Yet, here I am cultivating the very thing I was called to.  A walking, living example of the words I pen.

We have a Creator that gave us every good and perfect gift.

Is it any wonder we have a passion, a bent or a desire to make something beautiful?

 To watch it grow is the miracle.

The Maker has called us to create and cultivate.

Ignoring this passion, or pushing it deep down when life become muddled with confusion or busy schedules, will turn your creativity and calling into a dim light.

We have a little piece of heaven here on earth that God has given us to steward.

Creating is the easy part; the stepping in the right direction. The following. The pursuit of your passion.

Listen to the heartbeat of your calling.

Cultivating is growing this place, the personhood God created in you. He notched a special nook inside of every one of us for refuge and reminders. When we stop listening we lose our creativity.

The women gathered in my living room do not need to step onto my front porch every month. I do not need to bare my heart to the calling of motherhood and share the real and the raw. Opening up the spaces on the floor, the couches and in my heart.  But, I listened. God created this place in me and around me.

It is growing. It is His space. Notched out for just for us. A place of beauty and growth.

Remaining steadfast in the knowledge that He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it.

Your space is your calling.  Own it and place a banner of truth over it.

Take time to discover those things that draw your heart strings together as they feel frayed and purpose-less.

There is peace in the pause. Grow and cultivate the longing He has begun in you from the very beginning of your own creation.

Wide open, Small spaces create and cultivate beauty.  It’s up to you.

Let the words on the horizontal lines of your paper come alive and make a difference.

Horizontal lines are for more than words. Bring your creativity alive.

Person to person. Places and spaces.

You were created for such a time as this.