Phoenix

It can be hard to find beauty as you walk in the wasteland… And some days, seasons, in our lives feel just like that: devoid of beauty, wasted, bleak. But there is hope, friends, always hope. My friend Kristi reminds us to look to the phoenix. Grieve the losses, yes, but look for the new arising from the old.

re:create recess #18: Kristi Grover

Phoenix: a beautiful mythological bird resembling an eagle. It burns to death at the end of its life cycle…and from the ashes another phoenix arises.

As a young child I was absolutely fascinated by the phoenix myth I encountered through story. As an adult I continue to be intrigued by the imagery. I can look back over my life and clearly see many parallels when I consider various eras, relationships, and energies as they emerged, blossomed, and later flamed out—some slowly and quietly and others in a sudden whoosh of flame, leaving behind only ashes.

Yet, each time, those ashes held the promise of re-creation. Ashes are, after all, soil for new growth. They may appear to be a dull, gritty waste but they are in fact rich with nutrients and conducive to vibrant new life. Re-creation.

In the story I read as a child the protagonist is a young boy who has experienced a series of losses. He is lonely, suddenly living in an unfamiliar place, and not clear about what to do next. He strikes out on a solitary, aimless ramble in the woods and comes across a tiny phoenix emerging from what looks like a campfire. They become friends and share wondrous adventures until one day when the phoenix disappears.

The boy’s search for his trusted companion leads him eventually to the same place they first met. He witnesses the flames engulfing his dear friend, and grieves as he accepts that their time together has ended. Eventually he gathers himself to leave until a small sound causes him to look back and he sees a tiny new phoenix emerging from the ashes. Suddenly there is hope and the promise of new adventures.

In my life I have seen this pattern repeat in various ways. A good friend moves away or some other change causes the end of a once close relationship. A dearly loved family member dies. A move severs connection on many levels. A health challenge suddenly arises which effectively closes off meaningful work.

Even good, happily anticipated changes hold some significant loss. I was overjoyed as I anticipated being married to my beloved one, yet also privately needed to grieve significant losses as my life changed quite dramatically. As my children grew into maturity and moved off into lives with their own families, friends, and work, I could rejoice in the new beauty I saw as they grew into the promise of early years, yet there was also bittersweet acknowledgement that a precious window of time closed—family life on this particular level. What helped me in these times, and others like them, was knowing that a new era of life would open up eventually with its own extraordinary beauty.

Each time I needed to accept the change, grieve what was lost, and honor memories. And then I needed to wait patiently until it was time for a new beginning. As a woman of faith, I needed to trust that God was working things out in ways beyond my understanding and that He would bring into my life new relationships, work, or insights which would open the way to new adventures in my life journey with Him.

It is hard to wait, harder still to wait in hope with an open, trusting heart. I have often thought at such times of the answer I would give to young children in my care when, school day over, they waited while all the other children were picked up by a parent or led off to another activity. “When is my mom coming?” they would ask, sometimes with tears. And my answer would always be, “She’ll be here at just the right time.” For young children, waiting is very hard, even agonizing.

Even a two-minute delay feels like forever when everyone else has someone to be with or something wonderful to do. But Mom or Dad or Nanny or Grandparent always did show up eventually and they’d embark on new adventures together, grief eclipsed by the promise of excitement ahead.

In my “wisdom years” now, I’ve lived with chronic pain, cancer, tough challenges to my marriage, deep concerns for my children’s safety as they headed off time and again into dangerous places to do the work they believed God had called them to do, the end of relationships with various family members and friends due to death, moves, changes in work, and many other challenges.

Each loss has needed a time of grieving: remembering the good and trying to learn from the difficult. And always, always, at just the right time—not necessarily the time I would choose but the right time—new opportunities, new challenges, new relationships have emerged. I am given the opportunity to be “re-created” once more. The ashes of loss are real but the promise of new adventures ahead is also real.

I will choose to both honor the beauty of what is gone and welcome the beauty of what lies ahead.

some things that are true about me

My work in life is as a teacher and storyteller.  I take joy in many things – time spent with children and my family and friends, working in various ways for justice, hiking along high mountain ridge lines and walking in the woods and sitting quietly to stare at the ocean, hearing people share their life stories and affirming them, writing and reading, rainy afternoons by the fire with my small grey cat, listening to music and singing and dancing, intelligent conversation and laughter, making a home.  These and other things are true about me but the truest thing is that I am a child of God.

 

Forward

Oh friends, how I have needed the words and wisdom of this post…! Even for those who don’t think of themselves as Creatives, our very lives are adventures we have the privilege to create. Ann yearns to cheer-lead and encourage, and I’m certain others also need the cool refreshment she’s offering, the gentle nudge to keep going. Let’s keep moving forward, stronger for moving forward together.

re:create recess #17: Ann McDonald

Forward.

I’m soul stirred by the concept of inhabiting forward motion lately.

Truth? I’m not even sure I know what that means, but it feels like the daily practice of choosing to leave yesterday completely behind so today and tomorrow can actually be new…

…new places and spaces where creating is fresh, not simply re-purposed from what we’ve always done.

There is this holy unrest in me to move forward. To see what is possible.

We’ve got something else to build, you and I.

It’s not time to settle in and get small.

The concept of soul-downsizing offends me, as I see some of my acquaintances fold up hope and shrink back in fear. Considering their ideas and dreams old and of no use…they call it wisdom. But it feels more like embarrassment or self-judgment…that comes not from God, not from love.

I believe our best upsized soul days are ahead. Let’s walk those days out together, you and I. It isn’t exit stage left just yet…no matter what age or cycle.

My heart yearns to cheer-lead and encourage in this season.

To remind us we’ve got something never before seen inside of us that wants to be created and come out.

Jesus came to give us abundant life and there is a piece of abundance that includes more.

It’s the “lying one” that came to steal, kill and destroy.

If our thoughts start to steal hope in us, they need to go.

If our dreams start to kill the blessing of prosperity, they need to go.

If our imaginations turn destructive, they must bow to the name of Jesus…and find, in that name, grace for hope in today and most certainly, tomorrow.

Everywhere I turn, my heart burns to lift our collective countenance.

To empower us to the next heap of joy. Not sappy happy, but deeply seeded, “heaven is actually real and it wants to break in on our every-day” kind of joy.

There is this piece of me that yearns to stand on the park bench and get my Berkeley preacher girl on:

“Take the music lessons at 80”
“Learn to ride the horse at 70”
“I heard about this couple named Sarah and Abraham who had a family after 90….”
“Build the idea you’re afraid of into an abundantly prosperous business at 30 – 60 – 100”
“Start an orphanage”
“Bring water to a village”

Why? Because we can’t create those things from a place of downsizing in our soul. They must come from a place of hope and courage. Those things come from abundance…

“Write the book”
“Write the book”
“Write the book!”

Why? Because you may not see yourself as an author, but heaven knows you as one…and time is waning, the veil is thinning…

As I see it, we humans are a resilient and marvelous bunch. Every single one, created by God with something great inside, but we must steward our part forward.

It’s not easy, but sometimes it is. Sometimes there is grace for today to forget and forgive ourselves so we can live our best fearless day with dreams abandoned to the impossible becoming possible…

This is my re:create cry in this season.

Re:create what is impossible without God.

Try.

And so this holy unrest in me to move forward. To build something new. To be something I’ve never been.

Forward. Upsized. In spirit, soul and vision.

Stretch our tent pegs to the right and to the left.

Every day we get a new chance. Every day. Every day we set the coffee and pour a cup for Jesus, convinced at some point He will, in fact, show up to drink.

What is our everyday hope? Do we still have one? Can we even find one in all the noise?

What is our tomorrow dream?

Don’t downsize your soul and fold it up because it feels hard or heavy.

Turn on the lights at home. Buy a new pillow. Have a dinner party. Have a dance party. Host a prayer group that keeps the music on and the feet walking while the prayers ascend…

So many questions I know, but for the Creative, questions stir life.

There must be unanswered questions that move our soul into places in glory we’ve dared to dream of…

For today, let the spaces and places you inhabit move you forward…not hold you back.

And here dear one, is our collective key: the doors only open forward…

Xo – Ann

Creative Ann McDonald has been designing spaces & places and enterprises from ideas for over 30 years. Having lived & worked in New York City, Beverly Hills and now the San Francisco Bay Area, she exists to empower people to do great things. Ann believes joy is strength and if God said it, it must be true…even when we can’t see it just yet. Her Idea to Implementation curriculum is part of the 7 Mountain Message, she mentors Kingdom Entrepreneurs & equips people to create prosperity from ideas.

She and her husband Patrick have recently co-created a new health minded endeavor, Forwardshape™, set to launch Fall 2017. The purpose of Forwardshape™ is to empower a multi-generational movement away from shame, regret, unbelief and unforgiveness into joy, peace and righteousness in the everyday. To join the movement free of charge prior to launch, visit www.forwardshape.com.

 

 

Art Therapy

Dr. Seuss writes, “Oh, the places you will go!” which I echo, “Oh, the places our children will lead us…” Before Teen was born, I could never have imagined that he would lead me hunting for and racing snails, and later, in search of snakes in the jungles of Costa Rica. LaRae Seifert was Frank-ly surprised that she ended up in art class alongside her creative daughter, and we’re both grateful for the life adventures on which these kids have taken us and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

re:create recess #7: LaRae Seifert

You know those people who can take empty plastic bottles and transform them eighteen different ways into useable, clever gadgets? Or, alternatively, they can take miscellaneous household objects, some fruit, and a glue gun, and in under ten minutes create a beautiful centerpiece … or wreath for the door … or costume for the youngest child’s school production. You know someone like this. Maybe you are someone like this.

I am not this person. I do not even live in the same space as this person.

I am the person who can solve a logic puzzle in my head, or calculate everyone’s cost and tip when splitting a check before any of my friends can dig out a phone and pull up a calculator. Taking one of those silly Facebook quizzes that determine if one is left or right brained, I scored 80% left-brained, and my response was to think, “Only 80%?”

I have never thought of myself as creative. I am a problem solver. I do some things that appear creative, like playing the piano, and knitting and embroidering, and sewing. These things for me, however, do not depend on creativity as much as the precision and order that flow naturally from my mathematical nature.

Imagine my surprise then, and ultimately my appreciation for God’s sense of humor, when I gave birth to a daughter who is all creativity. She is constantly expressing her ideas through art and crafting. I never dreamed I would purchase so much paper, and yarn, and glue, and paint, and beads, and feathers, and wood, and … You get the idea. Eventually, my husband and I realized this was no passing fancy, but rather the core of her being, and we prayerfully sought out an art mentor for her.

We were lead to a local woman who is a talented watercolorist. When I approached her and asked if she would be willing to teach my daughter, she said, “Absolutely.” When we arrived at her house for the first lesson, the table was set for two students, not one. She said to me, “I thought you might like to join us.”

Internally, I rolled my eyes. I mean, really. I’m the least artistic person on the planet. This was going to be pure torture, but in wanting to be a good mom, I sat down, and … it wasn’t what I expected. What happened over the next several months surprised me. I found a part of myself I didn’t know existed. A year-and-a-half into this journey, I can see that digging deep and learning to create has changed me.

I can remember my surprise when we sketched an elephant from a photograph, and my result actually looked like an elephant. My daughter was so proud of me she named him Frank. I felt pleasure in mixing colors, and watching pictures take form as I painted. As I exercised my creative muscle, the realization dawned that I create every day of my life, whether it is memories, or family time, or meals, or one-on-one moments with my children or husband; every moment of the day is a moment of creation. It brings to mind that, “In the beginning, God created…” and as His image-bearers, we too are born to create.

I am not an amazing artist, nor will I ever be; but my experience with art has been a pleasant one. Most pleasing of all has been watching God take an analytical mom out of her comfort zone, and tap into her previously unknown creative well by placing her at the art table next to her child.

 

My name is LaRae, and I am a native of Colorado. I have been married 23 years to my partner in crime, and I have two beautiful daughters ages 12 and 19. Although I have a Juris Doctorate, I long ago set aside my law practice to focus on my hearth and home. I have homeschooled for 11 years, and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned as much as my children. As I say to them – the world is your classroom, and life is your teacher. As long as you’re living, you’re learning.

 

Re:Create • Sanctified Imagination

Pictures of cute kittens and babies aside, one of the more useful benefits of social media is connecting with people you haven’t seen in a while. That’s exactly what happened when, a few years ago, I got a message from a friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. He had stumbled across our church website, then found my picture, and reached out. Since then I have been grateful to be back in touch, especially through his posts on Facebook and his blog. Quite a thoughtful writer, I am thrilled to have him share on the blog today. We would all do well to consider how the people in our lives shape the stories we read, tell, and live.

re:create recess #2: Randy Ehle

Re:Create
One of the greatest truths of our humanity is that we are created in God’s image. And being created in the image of the Creator God—the creative God—means we, too, are creative. Creation came into being when God spoke. He has revealed himself for all history through his Word, written. His redeeming Son, Jesus, is called The Word. And so my image-of-God creativity is expressed in words.

Re:New
I grew up in the church, so I knew all the stories, all the books, all the characters. I knew about daring to be a Daniel and being patient like Job (though frankly, Job never seemed all that patient to me once I really read him). I knew the twelve disciples and most of the twelve sons of Jacob. I knew Moses and Joseph, David and Jonathan, Samson and Delilah. I’m sure I had the full set of Little Golden Books, including Jonah’s whale and Jericho’s tumbling walls.

But by the time I’d become a pastor, the stories had become merely that: stories. Even with more translations at my fingertips than Legion’s demons, I could scarcely read my Bible without already knowing what comes next. Familiarity had bred, if not contempt, at least complacency. Then I met Carolyn.

Carolyn volunteered in our church office. Warm, chatty, deeply caring, and ever wanting to learn more about Jesus, Carolyn and I had long conversations about life, the Bible, and whether the God of the Old Testament changed in the New. I learned as much from Carolyn’s questions as she did from any of my seminary-trained insights. I also learned something about disabilities. You see, Carolyn had been in a wheelchair for a quarter century, the result of a freak accident in which her mail jeep overturned, pinning her under a mound of first-class letters, junk mail, and packages.

Carolyn's baptism in the American River

Carolyn’s baptism in the American River

As I got to know Carolyn, I also met anew some men and women I’d been reading about since childhood: the blind men, lepers, and paralytics whose lives intersected with, and were changed by, Jesus. As I heard more of Carolyn’s story—not just the accident, but everyday life with a lower spine injury—I began to wonder about the lives of those biblical men and women.

Re:Write
Though I’ve enjoyed writing since my school days, for most of my life I wrote only for myself. Even when I began writing a blog, I did little to solicit readers. Writing was an outlet for the thoughts and ideas circulating in my head, but I never felt I had much to add to the world’s conversations. Any conversation. Meeting Carolyn began to change that, and led me to think about another paralytic:

His friends created the world’s first skylight, lowered his bed through the hole, and hoped beyond hope they wouldn’t have to lift him out the same way. Waving the swirling dust away from his face, the itinerant healer in the room below spoke … not words of healing, but of conviction!

“Your sins are forgiven.”

We who are familiar readers of the text barely skip a beat here. We rush right on by, scarcely noticing the crowd’s incredulity. We want to get to the good stuff, the miracles, the healing. We know what comes next and love to watch Jesus stick it to the self-righteous religious folks … who, of course, are not we. Because of Carolyn, I read the words with new eyes; like a blind man given new sight, I began to see beyond the words on the page.

The over-crowded room had only packed tighter with the invasion of the horizontal alien from above. The dust and dirt of the impromptu renovation choked throats while the brief cooling from the escaping air was replaced with the heat of the noonday sun now streaming onto their heads.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

What?!? What in the world does that mean?

Neither the hushed crowd nor the prone man could believe what they’d heard. They were equally incredulous, but for vastly different reasons: the crowd, because of the healer’s audacity to think he had the right to forgive sins; the paralytic, because of the audacity to think he—crippled as he was—had even the slightest capacity to sin.

If we were filming in 21st century style, we might pause the action here and focus the camera on the man’s reclined face. He would speak an aside, directly to the audience, revealing his inner thoughts and feelings. Having no such cinematic tools at our disposal, however, we are left to our imaginations – our sanctified imaginations. It’s a term my mom uses often to encourage deep, extra-biblical thinking about feelings, thoughts, and actions the Bible doesn’t tell us. And so I write—or rather, rewrite—from that sanctified imagination.

In recounting the story of the paralytic, the gospel writers are concerned with Jesus’ divine authority. Saying “your sins are forgiven” is easy and shows no visible effect; but causing a known cripple to walk is no cheap trick. In fact, the evangelists tell us, this is more about confirming Jesus’ authority to forgive than about demonstrating mercy.

There’s more to the story; more to the story that’s written, and more to the story that’s not written. Maybe my re:creation—my sanctified imagination—will open others’ eyes to the Creator. Maybe my words will open others’ ears to the Word whose Word is Life. Maybe I have something to add to the conversation, after all.

rehle-bio

 

Randy Ehle is a husband and father, coach and teacher, writer and speaker. He was—and longs again to be—a pastor. He’s lived in Canada, Germany, England, and throughout the United States; and has traveled on four of the seven continents. A self-described “rushed contemplative,” Randy has known life and death, gain and loss, wisdom and foolishness. He uses writing as a creative outlet, spiritual inspiration, and personal challenge for his readers. Find more of Randy’s thoughts at www.randehle.com.

Daydream Painter

Today’s guest post comes from a friend I met when he was in a high school youth group we led. He and his friends formed this motley crew of fantastic off-beat guys who to this day lovingly remind me of The Outsiders. They made me laugh, asked the best questions, and kept me on my toes and–the joys of social media–seeing the men they have become and their continued friendships with one another still makes me smile. I didn’t know Matt as an artist back then; each of his creations jolts my senses with exuberant and joyful color. He seems able to capture his ocean bliss and translate it through paint onto canvas, whether traditional canvas or skate deck or surf board. I always look forward to pictures of Matt’s paintings, and I know you will enjoy them as well.

Create Challenge #19: Matt “Cheeks” Hoag

I grew up in Southern California surfing and skating with friends. Briefly I lived in Wyoming to attend Wyoming Tech as a mechanic before returning to North County San Diego. My true passion is painting as meditation inspired by the ocean. Besides being inspired by the ocean, my trademark is clean lines and psychedelic colors.

My interest in art began with the help of my middle school art teacher, Jeremy “Jerm” Wright. After middle school I didn’t take any other art classes. Why? Not sure. Just doodled all the time instead of paying attention. I met Jim Moriarty through a church youth group in Solana Beach. He introduced me to Posca Pens, an acrylic-based paint pen, while on a surf trip down in Erendira, MX. I only use paint pens with each piece I create. Thanks to Jim, I picked up painting once again!

Creativity for me is turning off my mind of the negativity and letting my hands do the work. Let my body relax to music, and let everything flow into each painting. Each piece is thought through, but doesn’t always turn out how I think. Everything starts as an idea. That is half the fun, though.

Here are some of my works of art. Hope you enjoy!Hoag pelican

I chose to paint a pelican one day while sitting on the bluffs in Del Mar. I watched them pass by in the air, and I have watched them many times while in the water surf perfectly. They are awesome birds, great fishers and great surfers! To me a pelican is born ready to shred the waves. This one resembles a surfer watching the waves from an outlook. Watching and studying the waves as they crash.Hoag mermaid

This one here is one of my favorites that I have done so far. The tail grabs my attention the most. Looks like a stained glass sunset.Hoag bw

One of the details I like to add to each of my paintings is this type of style. Just black lines, dots, and swirls to bring out and show detail. On this one I decided I wanted no color, and only line work.Hoag octopus

Aliens and ocean? Why not paint an octopus which relates on those terms? These amazing creatures stride through the water with grace.Hoag wave

This wave was one of the first I did with this style. Many colors with many black lines, swirls, and dots.Hoag Stained Glass Wave (1)

When I was done with outlining the different colors it created a stained glass effect. I call this one “Stained Glass Wave.”Hoag rock

I work as an Aviation Technician in El Cajon, CA. When I am not painting or working, I enjoy being outside in nature, hanging out with my dog Roxy, an American Staffordshire-Bull Terrier-Boxer with tons of energy. She brings me joy every day. Waking up and seeing her in the morning reminds me to stay sober. It has been 3 years and 4 months, and every day is a new beginning. A new day. I enjoy listening to music which soothes my mind, anything from Classical to Jazz, from Blues to Classic Rock, from Reggae to Punk. At the moment I don’t have a website, but you can email me: daydreampainter@gmail.com.

Empowered for Creative Investment

During a job transition for us, we were privileged for a short time to attend a small church with the loveliest people. Among them were Scott Sabin and family. Humble and unassuming, it took us a bit (but not that long) to realize that Scott is a world-changer. His work with Plant With Purpose changes lives around the world and empowers people–and future generations–to change their circumstances, provide for their children, and live with God-given hope and dignity.

Create Challenge #15: Scott Sabin

2013-Planting-Hope1

From the very beginning God has invited human beings to participate in what he is doing in the world – creating, redeeming, and loving. In short, we were created for a purpose. Yet for many people that sense of purpose is precisely what is missing in their lives.

I had never given that much thought until one evening in the mountains of Haiti, when the Haitian Episcopal priest we worked with joined a group of us at the guesthouse where we stayed.

Though he had been given a remote rural parish, he had flourished, founding dozens of schools and providing opportunities for thousands of people.

As we sat in the dark, he told us how happy he was that God had given him a task. “God gives each of us something to do for him,” he said. “It’s as if He gathered us together and said to each of us, ‘I have a very important job for you.’”

With childlike exuberance he exclaimed, “It makes me happy that God has something for me to do. I feel excited!” But after a pause he said, “Can you imagine how it would feel if He said to you ‘I have nothing for you to do’? So many of the people in these mountains think they have nothing to give.”

For the first time, I realized how awful it must be to believe you have nothing to contribute, to feel you are and always will be completely dependent on the goodwill of outsiders. It is the very definition of disempowerment.

Since then I have realized that this level of disempowerment is more widespread than I imagined. In Burundi we work with returning refugees, some of whom have spent decades in refugee camps where they have been prohibited from doing anything productive. Men and women who have never worked before have little interest in learning how to farm or participating in microfinance groups until they begin to realize that God loves them and calls them to join him in His creative and redemptive work. Our outreach curriculum was developed locally and encourages people to discover their vocation, calling and purpose.

There has been a hunger for this that has astounded me, with churches all over the country asking for workshops. Few things match the joy on the faces of those who have discovered that they have agency, and can exercise their talents creatively. Innovative businesses have flourished and subsistence farms have become works of art.

The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) comes to mind. For some reason, when Jesus told this particular parable, He chose the man who only received one talent to be the villain, who buries his gifts. This man, perhaps like many in the mountains of Haiti, felt that his contribution didn’t matter, so buried his talent, declaring that his master was harsh.

For years this has bothered me. Even though I still do not understand why those who received more had an easier time recognizing their role, I have seen how often it is those with fewer talents who tend to bury them. The good news in the parable, though, is that everyone received a talent and therefore everyone has a role in the kingdom. No one is told, “I have nothing for you to do.” Everyone has something to create.

I have also learned that even with all I have been given, I am tempted by the same error. Because my talents often seem inadequate, I am tempted to bury them. Because another leader is a better writer, a better speaker, a better manager or a better storyteller, I am tempted to quit. I am tempted to avoid embarrassment, risk, and failure. Once again, I have to remind myself what we are telling people: God loves you. God has a purpose for you. God wants you to invest your talents. God invites you to create with Him.

SSabin

Since 1995, Scott Sabin has served as the Executive Director of Plant With Purpose (www.plantwithpurpose.org) an international Christian organization that empowers the poor in rural areas around the world where poverty is caused by deforestation. During that time the organization has grown from a single program in one country to include a staff of over 200 foresters, agronomists and facilitators in seven countries who have empowered farmers in more than 460 communities to plant over 18 million trees. 

Project Parenting

C at sea

This morning I had a long-overdue cuppa tea with a friend. Of course we talked about our kids. My Teen is a few years ahead of hers, and so conversations in our home run a different course than she has to deal with quite yet – driving, drinking, dating, college, life goals and plans… My friend has a special gift for making me feel like a stellar mom, even though I suspect all moms (all parents) just do their best in each moment, none of us truly knowing exactly what to do or how to do it. And each kid is entirely different, complicating this whole Parenting thing.

The closer Teen gets to high school graduation, the more I am convinced that there is no One Path Fits All. I am also increasingly convinced that culturally we have done our kids a disservice, robbing them of the freedom and fun of childhood far too early. My kid isn’t me, and the world he occupies isn’t the one in which I grew up. I wish I had realized that years ago and encouraged him to take the most fun-for-him classes that would also get him through middle school and high school, competition-based “shoulds” be damned. I have another kid who might yet benefit from this enlightened perspective, but chances are high that his path will be so entirely different that lessons learned with Teen won’t fit. Sigh.

A few hours later I read a magazine article about people who engage in long-term projects: hiking the Appalachian Trail, for example, or completing a cross-stitched quilt that consumed “free time” on and off for close to 50 years. The quilter said, “In art, when you’re creating, you have to be open to the possibilities” (Sister Judith Ann Shea, quoted by Amy Shearn in Real Simple, Feb 2016). Shearn goes on to say:

Being, and staying, open to the possibilities. That, right there, is exactly the near mystical appeal of the long haul… [The similar attitudes of those who undertake long-term projects] remind me to enjoy the slowness of a worthy, complex endeavor, to surround myself with positive people, and to remember to laugh, even through the moments that aren’t fun, even when you look in front of you and see hundreds more miles to walk…

Which sounds a whole lot like parenting, one heckuva worthy long-term endeavor! You create a family (whatever that looks like, but at least involves parent and child), and then you stay open to possibilities. You commit your life to help another human being create their life. The complexity of parenting takes every ounce of parental creativity; once you think you’ve got anything figured out, your kid changes or circumstances change and you find yourself back at, well, not Square 1, but at least a few steps off.

Which is why parents need to surround themselves with positive people, safe friends who Get It, who will listen and not try to fix you or your kids because none of you truly require fixing. We all need friends who love us unconditionally, friends who won’t judge. Friends who help us remember to laugh especially through the no-fun moments that threaten to last forever.

Not new news, of course, but today it feels like a fresh perspective:

Parenting = the most creative long-term project I will ever undertake.

Good thing I like creative projects. Thank God for the gift of this family, and thank God for friends to walk alongside as together we enjoy the slowness of this hike of a lifetime.