If I had a nickel for every time someone has said to me, “Oh, I don’t have a creative bone in my body”, or, “I’m not a creative person at all”, I would be a very wealthy woman.
The more I investigate these odd observations people have of themselves, the more I want to encourage them to pursue their own particular “why” that convinced them to make that declaration. In my years of coming alongside to shepherd and embolden many frozen or wounded creatives, I’ve found that all it takes to be more creative is to simply look at the world, and yourself, differently.
So, if you’ve ever said anything equivalent to those two sample responses to the question of "how do you use your creativity?", I’m here to tell you that you ARE creative, no matter what you may think of yourself. Some of us just need to hop on our creative bicycles and start peddling. Some of us may need training wheels on that bike, so here are some easy ways to start injecting some creativity into your everyday life:
1. Aloha is not just for Hawaiians.
We all have our typical ways we greet or acknowledge others. I have a friend, a fully grown man, who uses “Have an Exceedingly Groovy Day” in his everyday vernacular. It can be fun to change up our usual “Hello, How are you?” with “Tell me something I don’t know” or “How are you changing the world today?” You’ll start a conversation with someone in a lighter mode, showing true interest in them, and it will either lift the other person up to your happy tone, or it will make it easier for them to share what’s actually pressing on them. Like the word Aloha, the word Shalom is packed with sentiment. It can be said upon greeting or departing, and it carries a whole bunch of blessings with its meaning. So, Shalom, y'all!
2. Adjust Your Zoom Lens.
We tend to look at the whole big picture of something more than the small, incredibly fascinating features that go into it. Renaissance painters had a knack for putting subtle little scenes in the background for intrigue. (What was Mona Lisa smiling about, anyway?) A sidewalk or driveway isn’t necessarily marred by unruly weeds that pop up overnight. Sometimes those weeds have tiny, pretty little flowers, too. They’re also strong enough to bust through concrete and gravel, so give them that respect before spraying or hacking them into oblivion. The same is true with people and the situations that come with knowing them. Adjust your zoom lens and search their eyes, their smiles, or their body language, to capture what’s going on with whatever big picture they may be projecting. Chances are you’ll find some inkling of beauty that’s waiting to unfold, or the need of encouragement to bust through whatever situation they’re facing. You both might witness a tiny, pretty little miracle, too.
3. Captain Hook and Tinkerbell are Real.
As children we actively lived out our make-believe world and friends; playing dress-up, building forts and fighting space aliens with Jedi light sabers made from foil-covered wrapping paper tubes. The more adult we get, the more we put those playtimes and imagination sessions into a box or a drawer to pull out “when we have time to do such childish things”. Sadly, we don’t ever make time for those childish things. God loves for us to come to him like little wide-eyed children, and when we let ourselves look, see, hear and feel like a child, the world can be a most wonder-filled place to explore. So, when the everyday boring tasks or paperwork appear, keep a wand in your desk drawer to whisk it all away with a “Bibbidee Bobbidee Boo!” Pretend your grumpy, quiet co-worker is actually a super hero waiting to reveal his or her true identity. Make mud pies often, in all flavors and varieties. Go out and play. It’s good for the soul.
4. Be VanGogh with a Ballpoint.
It’s easier for most of us these days to whip out paragraph after paragraph of an email or strategic document with a variety of typed fonts and emoticons. Handwritten notes of any kind far outweigh the long, eloquent and perfectly punctuated typed offering. Treat yourself to the feel of the paper or card, a palette of colorful ink pens and out of the ordinary postage stamps. Think of how much more valuable something handwritten from you to another person can be to that person. Whether it’s as simple as a thank you, get well soon, or bon voyage, make it special, heartfelt and memorable. Adding your own artful squiggle or doodle could be your way of signing your painting. Someday, it will be worth more than you ever dreamed.
5. Catch Some Fireflies in a Jar.
Life is filled with moments to remember and cherish. It is also filled with moments that we hope to never experience, but bad things do happen. We need to keep our eyes, ears and hearts peeled for those small flickering lights of hope out there in the darkness. A baby’s first smile, a soft pat on the hand, a kiss on a grandmother’s cheek, a proud and happy tear in a father’s eyes, an out-of-tune rendition of someone singing us Happy Birthday- these are the moments that we need to keep seeking, keep catching, keep treasuring. Those little bits of lightning- may they forever twinkle in our darkest moments.
Creativity is something that God, The Creator Himself, put in all of us. It’s a gift that is meant to be enjoyed and shared with others. When we limit ourselves as being non-creative, we are in fact limiting God and the plans He has for us and how He wants us to use our gifts. He wants us to delight in His Creation, and in our own creations, to honor Him. God loves to put our crayoned pictures on His refrigerator. God makes a pretty fine mud pie, too.
Those jeans. You know the ones. The ones that are grouped along with your other pairs of pants and jeans, inconspicuously trying to blend in. But you haven't worn them in at least five years. And you keep them because one day they'll fit again, when you lose all that weight you're gonna lose. Right!
Yesterday I was in a rush to get dressed, and I reached into my jean stack on my closet shelf and pulled out "those" jeans by mistake. As I was putting them on, I realized my mistake and resolved to the inevitable truth that would happen when I attempted to zip them up. But. They. Zipped. Up. In one attempt. Even closed the button. I still could breathe, too. They fit like a glove. Again. Like I hoped they would someday. I was beyond surprised. I was beyond delighted.
The Lent eating plan we've been following has helped us not only to shed pounds, but our reliance on all the bad stuff we've allowed ourselves to eat for too long. I knew I had dropped a few pounds, as I checked the scale every morning. But this was a huge surprise, getting into my favorite jeans. Normally I would want to celebrate this significant weight loss goal with a Dairy Queen hot fudge sundae, but I didn't want to tempt fate, i.e., "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". So I stayed true and was rewarded this morning with another pound down on the scale. Surprised and delighted again!
Self discipline is hard for me. I have a natural born tendency to rebel against rules and regulations at times, and if I'm the one policing myself, there's a good chance I won't see it through to the finish line. This time I called in some backup in the form of God's Word to keep me steadfast in my mission to get rid of those 10 pounds I'd been carrying around for more than fifteen years, which crept up at times to more like 20 pounds. On my five foot three inch frame, there's not a lot of places where extra weight can go, except outward. The desire was there to lose the weight; just not the discipline to see it through.
I know now that when I arm myself with all the temptation slewing how-to's and weapons, empowered by the Very Mighty God, I stand a much better chance against anything that Sir Evil or my lack of follow through can throw at me. I know now how "the devil made me do it", and boy, is that a big surprise he's got coming next time he tries to steal my shine!
Psalm 37: 4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Ephesians 6: 11
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Tomorrow we'll bring a new dog into our household in the form of a 3-month old Lab-ish puppy. It's been close to ten years since we've had to experience those puppy growing pains, so there's a lot of little details that need to happen to ensure that our house and peace of mind remain intact as he matures.
The second set of bowls, toys, sleeping arrangments and specific food items have been purchased and are at the ready when the little rascal we adopted from the local SPCA arrives. I've started removing random shoes and other things off the floor in case he's a Chewbaca kind of dog, along with elevating houseplants and other conceivable gnawable targets. Our big yellow dog, Boomer, has some suspicion about the crate in the living room and all the new toys and bowls scattered about. Lots of new stuff for him to process once his energetic and possibly annoying younger brother moves in with us.
We'll all have to review what it's like to have a puppy again. We'll have to have that ESP lobe in our brains click on telling us when it's quite possibly the exact moment puppy needs to excuse himself and start the dreaded training process of housebreaking. We'll have to endure the possible howling or whimpering at night, and have to understand his little world and how we're supposed to be there for his every need. We used to know all this stuff. We've had lots of dogs and cats over the years, all starting out as puppies and kittens. But ten years is a long time, so we might be a little out of practice on some of our dog-rearing abilities. And for Boomer, it's been a long time since he was a puppy, and he will be responsible for showing the little guy how to be a big ranch dog like him.
It's fun to look back on all those other puppy raising experiences and recall each of their little habits, favorite toys, and when all the teaching actually kicked into their little mutt minds. I was once a young and inexperienced pup myself, and looked to parents, teachers and mentors to help me grow up to be a fully funtioning adult with a brain(sometimes). When I recall all the times The Lord helped shepherd me through a new learning curve, I feel so blessed and grateful, and most of all, confident in my steps. I will continue to look to his Word for guidance and wisdom when those big dog decisions in my life arise.
Psalm 119: 105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
John 2: 22
After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Fear is a four letter word. Strikes terror, just to read it or much less, say it. Since the dawn of social media, we've turned into a culture who gets to witness all sorts of terror-inducing images and videos which provoke the "why in the world would someone do that?" response.
Just this past week a friend and her family posted their first ever skydiving adventure. Nope. Not me. I'm totally okay without ever experiencing that, thank you. A couple of days ago some friends told me they overheard a conversation at a restaurant from the booth behind them that the guy was training to climb Mt. Everest. I think going to Walmart on a Saturday is a death-defying experience and do everything possible to avoid that possibility.
There's fear and then there's fearless. I experienced fearless in the form of two ninth grade girls this week, as I facilitated a one-on-one songwriting course for them during their enrichment week at their school. These two were sponges, soaking up every tidbit of information I gave them. By the middle of the first day, they were already scribbling and whispering all the different ways to say something and then coming up with a melody. By the second day, they had completed individually and collectively three songs. Three really good songs. By the end of the final day together, they performed the songs and even started choreographing them for the school talent show next fall. Fearless. Not afraid to write a song from the bottom of their hearts. Not afraid to share intimate portraits of their emotional sides. For me, their teacher and parents. Would I have done that at fifteen? Nope. Not me.
When excitement of the adventure overtakes the worry and fear of the unknown, that's when we become fearless. Early Christians, as well as current day Christians, had to and have to become and remain fearless in their profession of faith. Early Christians, as well as the current day Christians, were and are being persecuted, jailed, tortured and slaughtered because of others outside their religion fearing them.
Whatever you are fearful of, take heart that God is always alongside you as you walk through the valleys, filled with looming shadows of doom and gloom. Fear not, for he is with you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Ephesians 6: 19-20
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
March Madness. That special time of year when there’s a flurry of college basketball fervor; multiple teams all moving towards the same goal of winning conferences, titles and bragging rights. I love college sports more than professional sports because they’re so much more passionate and real. I love the televised shots of moms and dads in the bleachers, in their son’s or daughter’s team colors, jumping up and down and screaming, smiling, sometimes crying. The cheerleaders, the bands, the team mascots, all of it, just lends to the overall spirit of the journey to the big win or the big defeat.
With every televised sport, there are commentators; usually one to call the game and one for “color commentary”. Each season, each sport, no matter which sport it is, seems to gain new terminology and I always have to wind up asking Jeff what the heck they mean, just to attempt to follow along with them as they discuss the game. They examine every intricate detail of the players, their positions, the coaches and their coaching style, the bracket, the offense, the defense, the strategies, yada yada yada. Then there are the rules of the game and the zebra striped officials doing their job enforcing them on the court, the field, or wherever. It’s amazing how intricate a simple game involving players using some sort of a ball shaped object going towards some sort of a goal can be. Yeeesh! There’s so much to know, it seems, just to follow along. It almost makes it hard to watch, with all the commentators’ chatter. I’m not interested in those details so much. I just want to watch the game!
We can examine every detail of a situation in order to understand it better or to learn how it operates. This is certainly helpful and sometimes very necessary when you’re learning a new software program or putting a new chain on a chain saw. I’ve been known to read an instruction manual or two in my day in order to figure something out. It’s funny how daunting the task of learning new vocabulary of working parts and their functions can be, when you’re learning something new, then after some time of some hands-on use of it, that vocabulary and skill set becomes almost effortless and a no-brainer.
We can also over-examine the Christian religion and its doctrine and rituals and entirely miss the whole point: Jesus Christ. These are the kinds of debates I avoid entirely with some of my over-analytical and mostly agnostic friends or family, as I’m not into comparing “stats” on The Bible, God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit! For me, The Nicene Creed sums up all I need to know and what I believe to be true in my life. Armed with that knowledge, it sure makes my life a whole lot easier, and I can sit back and enjoy the game we call "life"!
Psalm 26: 2
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
2 Corinthians 13: 5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
I'm a performing songwriter and encourager who lives with a very understanding husband named Jeff and a big yellow Lab named Boomer, and a feisty black Lab-ish puppy named Gus, at our WeHope Ranch in New Chapel Hill, TX.
My husband's book on building wealth.
Yes, You can!