CREATED TO CREATE: Creative Living is for Everyone

 

1024px-Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel)One of my favorite pieces of literature, and currently my favorite passage of the bible is the creation account in Genesis 1. It is a poem passed down for thousands of years about how God created the world and then created humans–in God’s image. And being made in God’s image we were created to be creators. Loving the Message translation these days:

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature…
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

Last week, as I mentioned, my book group discussed Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearThough I loved the book, our group gave it mixed reviews and for a good reason that I had overlooked.

Though Gilbert’s starting point was that we are born with this inane desire to create and it will come out weather it is bathroom graffiti or designing a skyscraper, 80% plus of her examples of creativity are fine art. Being that she is an writer she talks a lot about writing, but most of her other examples are things like painting though she does mention her neighbor who’s creative outlet is tattooing her body.

Still for my book group–a group of newish mothers most of who do not consider themselves artist types the book became inaccessible. All that to say, my message is that all of us–every single one of us where made to make! And part of truly living is getting in touch with our creative side.

For Tall Dark and Handsome (T.D.H. also known as my husband Joe) his creative side is accessed in cooking, in building things (wooden furniture), and even in coming up with creative ways his company can run more efficiently. Some day, he hopes to use his creative energy to start a business. IMG_2981

For my Dad his creative energy has been used over the years to perfect his public speaking–preaching. He spends hours in research, prayer, and preparation of sermons. He also uses his creativity to reinvent himself for the context he is ministering.

IMG_0224My mother uses her creativity to writes letters to people and to God in her journaling. When we were growing up, she used her creativity to make healthy meals for our family on a shoe string budget. She could also turn someones castoffs into household decor or toys–and that takes creative energy. Just this last year she tried something new–painting and really likes it!

It is so easy, especially as exhausted mothers, to be caught in lifestyle of consumpution and rarely enjoy the experience of creating. Sometimes it may feel like the most rejuvenating thing to do is to “netflix and chill” but that rest doesn’t seem to last or satisfy.

Go out and prosper! Knit, cook, garden, build, write, arrange, scrapbook, sew, make music, dance–whatever floats your boat.

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TEACHING TODDLERS TO PRAY: An Interview with Alisha Terry, Mother of Six

IMG_2407-7005“Our kids pray out loud at every meal and at bedtime, and when they have wronged someone and are asking for forgiveness.”- Alisha Terry

Over the next few weeks I will be interviewing friends and acquaintances who have been teaching their children to pray. When I sent out these questions I assumed I could learn something from these mothers, when I started receiving replies I realized the variety and creativity I was taping into. I hope you enjoy these interviews and are as inspired as I am.

In this first interview with veteran mother and childhood friend of mine, Alisha Terry, I was most struck with their family tradition of praying and asking forgiveness from God rather than just saying “sorry” to a parent or sibling who was wronged.

Let me introduce you to the Terry family:

Amy: How many children do you have and how old are they? Where do you and your family go to church and what is your involvement there? 

Alisha: We have six kids ages 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, and 8 months.

We attend Riverstone church in Kennesaw, GA. We attend a small group and have served in various ways throughout the 8 years we’ve been there, but mostly in areas of hospitality and children’s church. Right now, Aaron and the older two kid holds doors for people and greet them as they come in for church on Sunday morning, and I lead a small group of 1st and 2nd grade girls at one of our two services. We attend the first one, and I serve at the second one while Aaron takes the kids home. Staying for two services is WAY too long of a day for little little ones.

Amy: When did you start praying out loud for your children or in front of your children at home?

From the day they were born.

We pray together with them at night, and pray over them at night and randomly throughout the day. We also pray when the kids do things to hurt or offend a sibling or parent. WE say sorry to the person hurt, but also to God because we teach the kids that our sin not only hurts the people in your life, but also God.

Amy: What are some of your daily or weekly traditions regarding prayer as a family? When do you pray? What do you say?

Alisha: We pray at all our meals and at bedtime, and again, randomly throughout the day. Our prayer at a meal is done by a child and might sound like this:

“Dear God/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Heavenly Father, we love you and we thank you for the way that you love us. help us to walk in the fruits of the spirit (they usually list them out, which is kind of cute but also not when you’re hungry), bless this food, and other random prayer requests.”

We pray with the kids, pretty much just as we would pray with an adult. I think that talking and praying with your kids in a dumbed down way is not helpful. Kids absorb a lot, so we sort of talk to them like they’re older than they are. We try and bless the kids a lot, blessing them with things that we see or want to see in them. Maybe I might say something like this for Lucas “I bless you with the ability to lead with compassion and grace for those that look up to you.” FOr Isaac, “I bless you to see people the way that God sees them. To show love to others the way that God has shown his love to you.” For Abby, I know I have prayed blessings of Joy and that she would have joy overflowing and joy that would spill over on to all that she comes into contact with. Etc, etc! You get the idea.

Amy: Have you done anything intentional to teach your children to pray?

Alisha: We model it for them, and when they’re young, we say bite sized bits and have them repeat.

Amy: Does your child/do your children pray out loud? What do they say? When do they pray?

Alisha: Our kids pray out loud at every meal and at bedtime, and when they have wronged someone and are asking for forgiveness.

A repentant type of prayer might go something like this, “Jesus forgive me for valuing my car over my relationship with _____. Help me to treat others the way I want to be treated, and help me to be loving.”

I don’t want the kids to just say “Im sorry I took your car” and move on. Why did they do it, what really happens when they do something like that, What does it say to your brother when you take whatever you want whenever you want, etc.

Do you want to get more ideas on teaching your kids about God? Do you want the latest on Amy’s art and children’s books? Subscribe here. 

My “Big Magic” Story

“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” What a great book! At least I thought so, and so did thousands of other people. I understand it’s not for everyone, but I felt so inspired I wanted to share some of the best things I got out of this book. This is both for your enjoyment and to consolidate my thoughts before book group tonight.

So, book group ladies–spoiler alert!

This book came to me at the perfect time. After many years of neglecting much of my creative bent–I have started calling myself an artist again. I largely didn’t pursue art of any type as a vocation because as Gilbert talks about creative living is not a good career choice.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pursue anything more practical in terms of making money and I neglected song writing, guitar playing, singing, drawing, painting, creative writing, and other things. I did channel my creativity into cooking, preaching, or creating a class.

The story that Gilbert tells about Clive James a written, poet, and critic who recovered from depression falling a huge failure by returning to creativity through painting starts on his daughters bicycle resonated deeply with me.

It wasn’t until I failed big time two years ago–at something that I thought was my life calling that I returned to art. Please don’t try to say I didn’t fail. I tried to start something–it didn’t happen. That’s all I mean.

I thought church was my calling–but during the time where I could barely drag myself to church something got me to write a story and to start drawing.

Gilbert would say it was my “genius,” I say it was the Holy Spirit working with my spirit.  Drawing those pictures, writing and rewriting the story with no expectation except holding it in my hands someday– brought me healing.

Clive James went back to writing, and I may go back to church planting. But for now, without fear I am going to enjoy creating books.

Well, I planned on writing a lot more about the book but I am being summoned by my two-year-old.

Did you read “Big Magic?” What did you get out of it? Other than the part discussed above, my favorite part was about being a trickster vs. a martyr. What did you think about that? I’d love to explore that theme theologically.

 

 

 

TEACHING TODDLERS TO PRAY: Momma Thumb Hurt?

IMG_0015We were about to sit down for Christmas dinner. I set down a piece of pottery with steaming cheesy cauliflower when the edge of dish chipped off and cut my thumb. I guess it was not heat safe. Blood was everywhere. My husband who likes to play doctor, took care of it right away. For the next few weeks I had to clean it every day and put a Band-Aid on it.

The first night at bedtime Lincoln asked, “momma thumb hurt?” And my Dad said, “Yes mommy’s thumb is hurt, did you pray for it?” My Dad instructed Lincoln to place his hand lightly on my thumb and “Say Jesus heal mommy’s thumb.” Lincoln said, “Say Jesus heal mommy’s thumb.”

And everyday since then, Lincoln asks me if my thumb is hurt and prays. I think he has stopped saying “Say Jesus,” and begins with Jesus now. I’m so touched that he is compassionate to ask about it and that his reaction is to turn to Jesus.

TEACHING TODDLERS TO PRAY: I Hurt! Pray!

Kids get hurt. All. The. Time. Most of the time its no big deal, sometimes it is more but each time as caregivers we have an opportunity to teach something.

My initial reaction to a bumped head or a skinned knee was to kiss it. And kissing it to make it better is a kind and compassionate response, but I was with a friend of mine who is a nanny and I noticed when her little one got hurt her response was “I hurt–Pray!”

IMG_3192My friend very genuinely asked Jesus to send the pain away, and the little girl would get up and run off. I like this because it not only shows compassion and concern like the kissing, but it also shows that Jesus cares.

Once I prayed for Lincoln a few times, he started demanding “I hurt—Pray!” Then he would say, “no hurt.” I didn’t teach him to say that and I’m sure there is a placebo affect like when we kiss an “ouwie” but it also teaches an expectation that prayer will change things—an expectation for healing.

THE PROCESS: Drawing Keep Watch Sam

 

Above you can see the difference between some of my initial proto-type drawings and the final marker drafts. Notice that all of the illustrations are done in “Landscape”. When it came  time to publish, printing was better value in “Portrait,” therefore all of the illustrations were either cropped or turned into two page spreads. Next time I will be doing more full page spreads.

Want to see more of the “process,” including the next book Amy is working on? Subscribe here. 

 

TEACHING TODDLERS TO PRAY: Hot Dog

Lincoln’s introduction to prayer came where many children’s first experience with prayer comes, at the dinner table and at bedtime.

My Dad, who was staying with us at the time, taught Lincoln to pray before each meal. So much so that if he didn’t pray he would say “Oh!” and close his eyes and bow his head so that it just about touched the food. At first he would gabber, and then end with a shouted “Amen” and lift his head.  IMG_3234.jpg

We joked that we weren’t sure what he was actually learning. But eventually a clear “God” and “thank you” entered the prayer and it seemed good.

Then since we were also praying for Lincoln before bed, he began to also want to pray at bedtime for “Hot Dog.” This made me laugh since he wanted to thank God for a “hot dog” said in a deep voice even if he hadn’t had a hot dog in over a week. But overall I thought, thankfulness is a great value and if he’s grateful for hot dogs so be it!

VOCATION BEYOND THE HOME

IMG_0195In all the craziness of moving to Chicago six years ago, getting married, and having a kid–my vocation seem to get lost.

I tried to hold on to what I thought I was called to do (that is start a church), but it just didn’t seem to mesh with having a baby.

My identity as an artist had long been subjugated to my pastoral identity only to show up here and there to make a message or event more creative.

But there I was, mentally bored yet emotionally and physically tired from being a full-time care-giver, when the idea came to me to create a book or books that I just couldn’t find for my kid.

A lot of people decide to write a children’s book for the same reason, but for me it also made sense in a way that nothing else I had ever tried.

My brother said, “That’s it Amy, that’s perfect.”

I spent my entire childhood, honing my drawing and painting skills. By my senior year of high school I spent at least three hours a day in the art room.

I spent my twenties studying theology.

My thirties have been all about marriage and family–causing an identity crisis in regards vocation.

But it seems like I have finally found something that I can do while being the wife and mother I want to be.

Reconciling vocational calling with a new parenting roll can be challenging. Has it been a challenge for you? What has helped you through the transition?

Do you want ideas on how to grow in faith in this season of life and how to help your kids grow in faith? Would you like a free ecopy of Keep Watch Sam? Subscribe to my newsletter. No spam, just good stuff.