Creating & Making

I met today’s guest post author when my friend (her mother-in-law) hosted a gathering for people to learn about her family’s exciting new oversees adventure in Indonesia. Over the few times we’ve shared together since–at church, over meals, at St. Mary’s College basketball games–I have been impressed with how openly she shares her heart, her faith, her laughter, her tears. I can only imagine the creativity that comes into play daily as one lives, parents, and works in a foreign country. God is our Creator, yet we are all makers, and I am grateful Fawn shared her creativity with us.

Create Challenge #34: Fawn Stephens

Many times I’ve labeled myself as “not creative.” I don’t possess the talents usually associated with this adjective; my paintings really do look like something from 3rd grade art. I played music in the high school band, but fell into the ‘average’ category and never pursued it after. And relative to those friends of mine who can craft, sew, scrapbook, and decorate with ease, I’m left admiring their work.

In Genesis, the very first thing God said created everything. This is the first picture He wants us to have of Him, a (the) Creator. This Hebrew word for “create” is bara. This is the only way in which this word is used, when God makes something new of out of nothing. Contrary to popular belief, we are not creative just because we are made in God’s image. Well, respective of the bara kind of creating.

Only God can make stuff out of absolutely nothing.fstephens-baby

The kind of “creating” we humans do is actually more like “making” and is found in the Hebrew word asah. This is like when we buy paint and a canvas and make something beautiful out of it. Or when my mom plants flower starts in her garden and they grow in a perfectly staggered rainbow of heights and colors. When a realtor, lawyer, doctor, or teacher gets “creative” in making a contract, diagnosis, or lesson happen effectively, this is taking what he or she has and working with it. This is the kind of creating we make happen.

Something out of something.fstephens-lady

That doesn’t mean, however, that because we can’t bara, it doesn’t happen in our lives. It’s just not of our own doing. God works through His created children all the time to create new and beautiful things out of nothing. Friendships, love, trust, repentance, and wisdom are all things God builds in us, when none of those things are there to begin with. In fact, the spiritual gifts we are told by Paul to be eager for are some of God’s favorite works. Patience, discernment, and generosity are evidence of God doing His thing in our lives.

I’ve come to realize in the last year that I am actually very (asah) creative. Living and working as a cross-cultural missionary wife and mom in a remote, tribal, mountain town in a developing country requires nothing less. I now make my own yogurt, bake bread (without a bread machine!), come up with home-remedy-type pesticides for my garden, carry area rugs on a motorcycle, and figure out countless other ways in which to get things done for my family each day—all with no box stores for thousands of miles in every direction.fstephens-bug

At the same time, God is proving to be very (bara) creative in my life. One of the most spiritually-growing things I’ve ever faced, relationships with my missionary co-workers, prove to be both impossible and rewarding. There is no way that any of us, not having chosen each other to live beside, worship next to, and work closely with every day, could come together in love to do God’s work here without His creative hand involved.

This is because, by its very nature, creation is unnatural. Without God working around and in us, things wouldn’t even exist. And if they did, they would constantly be falling into a state of disarray.fstephens-butterfly fstephens-leaf

Where there is nothing, because we have no history together before coming from different corners of the world, God makes something in my teammates and me. He builds trust and common vision in the space between us, where there was literally nothing.

Can I make something out of nothing? No. Can I make something out of what God gives me to work with, trusting Him to make new things where there is nothing? You bet.

So, I guess I am a creative (and wonderfully created) person after all.fstephens

Fawn Stephens, along with her husband Michael and children Kalem and Adria, is a missionary serving in Papua Indonesia. Fawn and Michael are both helicopter pilots with Helimission; helicopter travel allows them to access remote or otherwise inaccessible areas to bring medical relief and humanitarian aid. They also assist in mass emergency situations. Routine treks include supporting jungle missionaries, who need aid to live among remote tribes in the mountains and spread the gospel. They also bring medical aid to the people they minister to, regardless of religious affiliation. Find out more and follow her blog: holyrotors.com.

Creating Columbine

One of my personal joys throughout this Create Challenge year has been creating a community platform for creatives who have walked a leg of my own creative journey. Today’s guest post-er is such a one. Many moons ago, she was an editor at a Christian publishing house where I was invited to participate as a writer. Together we created some wacky and significant experiences for junior and senior high kids to get hands-on with the Bible and discover God’s Truth. I treasure those days as formational to the work I continue to do in encouraging others to think creatively and deeply about God and His role in their lives. Thank you, Lisa!

Create Challenge #29: Lisa LaufferCreating Columbine

The Bloom of Creating

The germ of an idea.
A seed we plant.
Waiting in the dark, pondering,
Hoping to see light.
Pushing through as tender sprout,
Absorbing the energy of sun,
The refreshment of rain,
The nutrients of soil.
Growing.
Transforming.
Bursting in color and beauty to inspire and heal.
Dropping seeds for the future.

LLaufferLisa Lauffer inspires others into their creating through encouragement and example. She teaches art online through Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Online (giftedhomeschoolers.org) as well as the movement fitness program called Nia (nianow.com) and taekwondo. You can read about her own creating adventures at artisanofcreativemiracles.com.

Thankful Thursday – Southern Oregon Summer

My gracious in-laws offered us the use of their home in Medford, Oregon while they’re travelling (French & Italian Riviera). We had been planning a camping road-trip around college visits for Teen, but our kids gently pointed out that, ahem, as Scouts they camp all the time, and could we please not camp on vacation? Especially considering Teen just returned from two weeks of pack-rafting in Montana and both boys will go to week-long Scout camp a few days after we get home, they had a solid point.

This trip is a great compromise–Southern Oregon provides lots of gorgeous outdoor activities and home-base has, well, all the comforts of home. And we can have our dog with us.

We’re eating simple-prep meals (yay for Trader Joe’s) and spending most of our time outside, while still sleeping softly at night. So much so that Tween slept almost twelve hours last night, remarkable for a kid with life-long insomnia!

I am grateful for time away, for natural beauty, for family, for rest. Teen has us listening to a lot of country music (not our standard fare) and this line from a Keith Urban song grabbed me today: Ain’t it funny how the best days of my life//Was all that wasted time…

Here’s to wasting time with those I love most in this world!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Medford Growers Market

Medford Growers Market

Lithia Park, Ashland

Lithia Park, Ashland

OR feet

Cheers! to Oregon beer

Cheers! to Oregon beer

Thankful Thursday – Week of July 4th, 2016

Today didn’t go as planned. I had to work through, pray through, a few unanticipated and frustrating speed bumps before I could return to gratitude. Yet my issues are annoyances, mere splinters compared with the unanticipated life-demolishing road blocks others have experienced today, this week. My reasons for gratitude remain huge, while others grieve.

I don’t have many words today, and so I turn to pictures and others to speak.firework 2

lady liberty
BY TATO LAVIERA

for liberty, your day filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor, nineteen eighty-six,
midnight sky, fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
wall street a backdrop of centennial adulation,
computerized capital angling cameras
celebrating the international symbol of freedom
stretched across micro-chips,
awacs surveillance,
wall-to-wall people, sailing ships,
gliding armies ferried
in pursuit of happiness, constitution adoration,
packaged television channels for liberty,
immigrant illusions
celebrated in the name of democratic principles,
god bless america, land of the star
spangled banner
that we love,

 

but the symbol suffered
one hundred years of decay
climbing up to the spined crown,
the fractured torch hand,
the ruptured intestines,
palms blistered and calloused,
feet embroidered in rust,
centennial decay,
the lady’s eyes,
cataract filled, exposed
to sun and snow, a salty wind,
discolored verses staining her robe,

 

she needed re-molding, re-designing,
the decomposed body
now melted down for souvenirs,
lungs and limbs jailed
in scaffolding of ugly cubicles
incarcerating the body
as she prepared to receive
her twentieth-century transplant
paid for by pitching pennies,
hometown chicken barbecues,
marathons on america’s main streets.
she heard the speeches:
the president’s
the french and american partners,
the nation believed in her, rooted for the queen,
and lady liberty decided to reflect
on lincoln’s emancipatory resoluteness
on washington’s patriotism,
on jefferson’s lucidity,
on william jennings bryan’s socialism,
on woodrow wilson’s league of nations,
on roosevelt’s new deal,
on kennedy’s ecumenical postures,
and on martin luther king’s non-violence.firework 1
lady liberty decided to reflect
on lillian wald’s settlements,
on helen keller’s sixth sense,
on susan b. anthony’s suffrage movement,
on mother cabrini’s giving soul,
on harriet tubman’s stubborn pursuit of freedom.

 

just before she was touched,
just before she was dismantled,
lady liberty spoke,
she spoke for the principles,
for the preamble,
for the bill of rights,
and thirty-nine peaceful
presidential transitions,
and, just before she was touched,
lady liberty wanted to convey
her own resolutions,
her own bi-centennial goals,
so that in twenty eighty-six,
she would be smiling and she would be proud.
and then, just before she was touched,
and then, while she was being re-constructed,
and then, while she was being celebrated,
she spoke.

 

if you touch me, touch ALL of my people
who need attention and societal repair,
give the tired and the poor
the same attention, AMERICA,
touch us ALL with liberty,
touch us ALL with liberty.

 

hunger abounds, our soil is plentiful,
our technology advanced enough
to feed the world,
to feed humanity’s hunger . . .
but let’s celebrate not our wealth,
not our sophisticated defense,
not our scientific advancements,
not our intellectual adventures.
let us concentrate on our weaknesses,
on our societal needs,
for we will never be free
if indeed freedom is subjugated
to trampling upon people’s needs.

 

this is a warning,
my beloved america.firework 3
so touch me,
and in touching me
touch all our people.
do not single me out,
touch all our people,
touch all our people,
all our people
      our people
             people.

 

and then i shall truly enjoy
my day, filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor,
nineteen eighty-six, midnight sky,
fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
celebrating in the name of equality,
in the pursuit of happiness,
god bless america,
land of star
spangled banner
that we love.

Fighting for Creative Space

[My blog went dark last week due to computer complications, so you get a bonus Create Challenge post this week–lucky you!]

Today’s post comes from a woman who grew up around the corner from my childhood home and yet I’ve never known her well. I’m a smidge older and, as kids tend to group up by age/grade, we never ran in the same circles even though we also attended the same small liberal arts college in overlapping years. Her sister was one of my sister’s best childhood chums, however, and I remember my mom especially commenting on what a delightful artist Tina was even at a young age. I bumped into her at a storytelling conference a while back and I am thrilled to see the beauty she creates in her art and in her life. For anyone who would indulge creativity, you will recognize the inherent time-balance crunch she writes about in this post.

Create Challenge #21: Tina Carlson WellsTCW Golden Apples

I have been creating art professionally in Southern California for over 20 years. I specialize in custom canvases and murals, working with my clients to create something meaningful that works with their style and decor.

I graduated from Westmont College where I studied Business and Art. After graduation I started my business and painted full-time for ten years. After getting married and starting a family (my two kids are 12 and 6), I became full-time mom//part-time artist. I love both jobs, but it is often a complicated juggle running a part-time business while meeting the demands of school and home. Projects for clients take precedent and, while I love being creative for others, my creative projects often end up last on the list. I have been fighting against this, and trying to be very deliberate about making space for personal creativity. Here are some of my strategies.TCW cake TCW dog

Schedule it! I choose a few days a week when I can schedule 20-30 minutes of creative space in my day. In my ideal world, I would have hours to sit and paint, craft, etc. But in my reality, one to three hours a week is a victory. I set an alarm on my phone, stop everything else, and work for 20+ minutes.

Creativity takes many forms for me, from painting and crafts, to cooking, writing, and editing photos. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but once I’m going on a project, I can dive right in. The physical space where I can work is a key part of making creativity happen. I have a corner set up with my easel, paints, brushes, pencils, paper, a small table, etc. This allows me to paint for 20 minutes rather than spending the same amount of time setting up. There is no perfect time, and my ‘chores’ are never finished so, much like committing to a workout routine, you have to “just do it!” TCW heartTCW brushes

God is the ultimate artist and I believe He made us to be creative too. I’m a better mom, wife, and friend when I have fed my creative soul. I encourage you to get in touch with your creative self; make time, get messy, and have fun!TCWells

Lover of all things creative…on the canvas, in the kitchen, in my nest…and in the details of life. I find that when I invest myself in something creative everyday, no matter how small, I am better for it. My blog is in ‘hibernation’ at the moment, but there is lots of creative content there to check out: www.winsomewren.blogspot.com. My website is www.tinacwellsart.com

Creative Passions

Back in junior high, Nikki and I created drama. In high school band, we created music (and still, drama). We’ve put a lot of years and miles between those energetic girls and the women we’ve become, but we both still manage to create. And here we are, creating together again.

Create Challenge #14: Nikki Norman

NNorman famThe word create is different for everyone. I don’t consider myself very creative as a rule but I do a lot that is creative. I am a photographer, I am a baker, and I make salves and blends with essential oils.

Let’s start with my number one passion: Photography. As a child I loved to have my picture taken, much like teens now. If only we had cellphones then… Oh my word, it would have been bad.

As an adult I much prefer to be behind the camera. Photography is something I have developed over the past 20 years. Other than a class here and there, I don’t have formal training. Most of what I do and know is by the grace of God. He has given me the talent to frame the subject and edit the photo to be pleasing to me and the client. I prefer to photograph people although I do sometimes have to grab a shot of God–a beautiful sunset, rainbow, even a thunderstorm.NNorman baby

As a natural light photographer, I prefer to shoot outdoors. My photo shoot location of choice is the Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. It has a lake, a grassy area with trees, a road hardly traveled and a gorgeous brick wall and staircase. The Monastery’s calm and quiet help as well. People feel comfortable there even if they are not “religious.” I absolutely love photographing people’s story, “making memories to last a lifetime” (my slogan).NNorman wedding

Next passion: Baking. I create birthday cakes with love for the ones I love and feel an immense pride when it comes out tasting good and looking pretty. My son’s girlfriend has a term she uses when something is really good. She says, “It tastes like Jesus.”

The first time I heard it I was like, “Really? You just said that?”

And she said, “Jesus is good–and so is this!”

Creating a great dessert people ask for over and over again? That is very rewarding!

Using essential oils for natural healing is my final creative passion. I am truly an advocate for essential oils. I make salves with coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax and add different essential oils to the salve depending on the ailment. I make one for general healing and use it instead of lotion. I make one for aches and pains. My parents use it all the time and say it truly helps with their arthritis and other aches that come with age. I just made one that is supposed to help with nerve pain or neuropathy. My husband suffers with this so here’s hoping it works!

One essential oil must for day-to-day use is frankincense, which I refer to as “Frank.” Frank is a super cancer fighter and all-around great oil and, heck, the Wise Men brought it to Jesus so you know it must be good! I believe so much in these oils that I am an affiliate with the company I prefer to use and am able to pass on a 10% discount to everyone.

Finally, I am an Apache Indian. We refer to God as Creator–how cool is that? He is the Creator of the heavens and earth, Creator of all. I try to live my life to please Creator and I thank Creator for the talents He has given me.

NNorman bio

Nikki Norman has been married for 20 years to her incredible husband, Kevin, and they have four children: Brittney (23), Haylie (20), Hunter (19) and Harrison (15). Haylie is married and has given them the joyful gift of Ryker, their 18-month-old grandson. Nikki works for a pharmacy management company that manages twelve stores and counting. She and Kevin also just embarked on a bee-keeping adventure.
Website: http://www.nikkinormanphotography.com/
Spark Naturals essential oils: http://sparknaturals.com/?idev_id=383
(use coupon code: nikkinor)