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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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.




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. 



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.



sleepingsamThe other day a neighbor and I had a playdate with our kids. Her daughter spotted coloring paper right away and pretty soon she was creating a book.

That was how I was as a child. I had a piece of paper and pencil with me at all times. I drew at home, I drew at school, I drew where ever my parents brought me.

In high school I was an art room kid. We were sometimes lumped together with other “freaks.” Charcoal, marker, or ink smudges decorated our hands at all times. My art room crush even carried an old fashion pencil behind his ear.

I honored my parents wish that I go to college (not art school). I painted in college and I even tried to learn to throw (pottery on a wheel), but I learned that just because you can draw and paint does’t mean you have any gift in regards to pottery.

And, I learned that school (outside of the art studio) could actually be great too. I fell in love with theology.

Pursuing theology brought me further away from my artist identity. Sure I still played guitar some, dressed creative, and every once in a while picked up a pencil or paint brush. But what did art have to do with theology?

In Michael Angelo’s day the artist was considered close to God by his very creative nature, but thanks to the iconoclasts of the Reformation, American Christianity is fairly void of art. But its coming back, at least for me. For Catholics it was never lost

Last May I started working on a children’s picture book called, “Keep Watch Sam.” This has been an amazing adventure of discovering how my various gifts, talents, and interests can be brought together. Its some of the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done.

The image shown here is one of the ones I am most happy about the outcome. Both are done with Prismacolor illustrator markers.

If you are interested in seeing the final product, I am offering a free digital copy of Keep Watch Sam if you subscribe to my newsletter.