Embroidery

Today’s post resonates in my creative soul. During a recent conversation about creativity I heard myself say, “I need a hobby that is not also my job.” I write for work, I write for my blog, and I write for my sanity. And sometimes, I just need to slam the computer shut. Which doesn’t stunt my urge to create, however. This post explores that conundrum: when what you love becomes your work and then loses (and gains) a little bit of shine. And also, why does creating for others feel like generosity while creating for self feels selfish? I’m going to have to sit with that question for a while…

Create Challenge #36: Annie Nybo

I am lucky enough to have a job in a creative field, and blessed that my hobby (reading) is what I do (editing books).

But the downside of that is that reading and writing become work to me, and my personal reading tastes have changed drastically because of it. As my career has grown, so too has my need for another creative outlet, and so I have spent the past several years knitting, cross-stitching, and embroidering up a storm.anybo-regrets

The thing that strikes me upon writing this, however, is that I find it nearly impossible to own that talent. When people compliment my work, my first response is to tell them how easy it is. (And guys, it is. Cross stitch is really freaking easy if you can count). It feels wrong to get compliments on some hipster sayings I sew when I look at tapestries from the middle ages. Suddenly my little Darth Vader doesn’t look so great.anybo-vader

I can’t even literally own my own work—I find it hard to create for myself. I dream up projects for other people, but I do not have a single piece of my embroidery displayed in my room. And I think it’s because making something for myself feels selfish. What a waste of time when I could be making something as a gift.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it challenging to create for themselves. To create is to be vulnerable, and it’s nerve-wracking to be so enamored of something you’ve made that you’d show it off.  In the way many of us have been raised, that smacks of pride and arrogance.anybo-dove anybo-cali

But the urge to hide and deflect and demure is one I want to quash in the coming year. Because true creative freedom comes in being able to say, “I made this and it is good.” And I wanted to call attention to and honor the space within us all that knows we’re talented—even if that talent is remembering state capitols—and owning that spark.

This holiday season, I will be sewing many gifts, but in between all the projects I will be finishing one for myself, one that I’ve worked on for almost a year. As I finish, and try to finish strong, I will have to constantly remind myself that “it is good.” I don’t need to sell it or give it away, I can be proud of a job well done. That’s not arrogance, that’s understanding oneself.anybo-elfanybo

Annie Nybo is a children’s book editor and lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she reads, sews, and plays video games.

“Just one time.”

At its center, every creative act requires vulnerability. And I am flat-out-on-the-floor humbled that today’s guest post writer allowed this simple blog and the invitation to express her creativity to become the vehicle to share a story so vulnerable, so powerful, so raw and real. She says, “God has been prompting me to write my story in some capacity for years, and I’ve never had the courage to do it before. If someone can be reached, changed, moved to obey and, God willing, to forgive, then my sharing will be worth it.” Friends, I pray you will read this story with sensitivity, and that you will be en-Couraged to forgive, to say YES to God in the hardest parts of life’s darkness, allowing Him to turn them to light.

Create Challenge #13: Karyn Bergenpage-banner-help-topic-forgiveness

The story I am about to share with you is a story of how I forgave someone when they weren’t asking for forgiveness. Sit with that for a second. Ponder what it would be like to truly forgive someone who doesn’t think what they did was wrong. How does a person get to the point of forgiving another when the forgiveness isn’t being sought after? The answer to that question in one word is obedience.

My purpose in sharing my story is so I can reveal to you what was created through my obedience To God’s prompting.

As a child I was sexually abused. The “by whom” doesn’t matter other than for you to understand that this isn’t a person I could rid from my life with ease. He was and still is intertwined whether I liked it or not. The abuse went on from the time I was about 5 or 6 years old to 12 years old. It was ongoing and consistent. It was normal until the day I figured out that it wasn’t everyone’s normal. That was the day it stopped. That was the day I never spoke of or thought of it again until I was a freshman in college.

To this day, as a 43-year-old woman, when I allow myself to look back it is often those memories that come to the forefront of my mind first. The abuse is ingrained in me. I live with the memories of it. Over the top of the memories, like an umbrella shielding me from a heavy rainstorm, is the knowledge that Christ is with me and if I remain obedient to Him He will lead me through my days.

When I was 34 years old I confronted my abuser. It was the first time we had ever spoken of what happened. I had convinced myself that a similar type of abuse must have happened to him otherwise why would he have done it to me? I was desperate for justification, I suppose. I needed to find a reason so it would make some sense.

It turned out that he hadn’t suffered as I had. It also turned out that he “didn’t think it was that big of a deal.” I marched on with the knowledge that he simply chose to abuse me and felt no remorse. To me, that was the worst case scenario of a truly horrible situation.

Fast forward. I was now nearly 40 years old. I received a text message from my abuser. He said he was suffering from residual effects of too many years of alcohol and drug abuse.

“Could you take me to the doctor because I don’t think I can drive myself?”

Here I was being asked to help the person who did nothing but hurt me. Why am I being put in this situation? As the text progressed into a phone conversation, I heard God whisper to me, “Just one time. Help him just one time.” The whisper was so gentle, yet so clear. It was a whisper I had heard a handful of other times in my life and had never regretted being obedient to the direction. I heard myself say to my abuser, “Yes, I will help. One time.”

I arrived to a gravely ill person who had been consuming nothing but handle-sized bottles of vodka for three weeks straight. His whites of his eyes and his skin were yellow. His apartment was unmentionable. I felt badly for him. His choices had led him to such darkness. My choice at this point, in this situation, was to remain obedient “just one time.”

My choice to remain obedient to God’s prompting led me to a place where I saw a broken person rather than my abuser. He could no longer hurt me. In fact, this time, I was in charge. This time, I was calling the shots. In all honesty, my abuser is darn lucky God was with me. I am human after all and I commit sins and act upon my free will. If it had been up to me I wouldn’t have helped him….not once, not ever. I point this out so you fully understand that what was created was not from me.

I chose to remain obedient “just one time” and as a result of that choice, I saw a person who wasn’t scary anymore. My heart broke open for him. My heart wished for good things to happen in his life. My heart felt towards him as I would anyone else who I held close and, dare I say, love. I was in awe of the healing that God brought to me as a result of the obedience. I forgave an atrocity when forgiveness wasn’t being sought after. I was freed from the confines of my own thoughts and memories.

To this very day, the forgiveness remains. He is no longer my abuser. He is a person whom I can say I care very much about. He is someone we see from time to time….not too often and never will my children be alone with him. However, the decision to protect my children isn’t fueled by resentment and fear. It’s simply smart parenting. Through obedience, forgiveness was created. God breathed. God’s will. My healing.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Matthew 6:14
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Karyn also recommends this song:

 

KBergen

Karyn is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, and believer in Jesus Christ. She resides in Alamo, California, with her husband and three kids. After many years spent as a stay-at-home-mom, Karyn now works as a teacher’s aid and substitute teacher at her children’s school, Alamo Elementary. She’s an avid runner who feels closest to God when her feet are hitting the pavement.

What’s Your Dance Party?

I’ve been thinking about “YES!”yes

This word, “create,” requires saying Yes to life, to invitations, to play, and, sometimes worse, to those things that intimidate or downright scare me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for saying “NO!” as necessary. I believe in it. Oh baby, YES, we have to say NO! from time to time. My everyday hero, Jen Hatmaker, says: “People will take as much as you will give them, not because they are terrible humans, but because they only want this one slice of you. Plus, you’re probably good at their pet thing. But they don’t observe the scope of your life and all the other tricks on your beam. You can say no, and no one will die. God wants this freedom for us.” Sometimes we have to say No in order to say Yes to something more important. I’ve been thinking on that a lot lately, too.

But, YesGetting out of our comfort zone to live a full, exuberant, energetic, creative life, that requires Yes answers where No might be our instinct.

i-dare-me-clubI’ve been reading a book, I Dare Me!, about a middle-aged wowza-successful gal who felt stuck. To un-stick herself she created a list, with lots of help, of Firsts she could do every day of the year. She began with one of her biggest fears, swimming in the ocean, and so she took a New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge. I’m not afraid of the ocean, and still, Yikes! Some were way more do-able, like taking a new class at the gym, trying a new recipe and/or restaurant, even going without make-up for a day (and yet, she’s an on-air news anchor, so…). It’s inspirational. I don’t want to do many of the things she did, but I’m asking the big question: What could I do? It’s a Yes to life!

Yes is about letting go of what others think, of what you think, of who you should be or what you should do. It’s embracing the whole range, from silly to ridiculous to meaningful.

Today I said Yes, if only just for a few seconds.

At our moms’ group, a sweet gal shared her story of birthing three babies in rapid succession, and in that time two household moves, of post-partum depression that lasted too long, and from all of that, to Zumba. You read that right, Zumba!zumba-in-the-circuit-logo-2

Previously, I had only ever Zumba’d in the privacy of my own home, not-jiving to a library DVD. I tried a few days in a row, working on steps and rhythm, before I decided I have neither steps nor rhythm (my gals will attest: after a few late-night glasses of wine, I might be convinced otherwise, but we keep that to ourselves).

Zumba was the thing God used to heal this sweet mama. She loves to dance, and so when her youngest began sleeping through the night she first took one class, which led to three, which became a dare from her husband to become an instructor. And so she did! Through Zumba she left depression behind. She grew lighter and brighter and, along with her, so did her family. And today, so did 150 or so women at our church as she led us in a simple, just-for-us routine.

The friend behind me had dressed the part: yoga pants and tennis skirt. Me, not so much. I confessed (uh, she was standing behind me, it wasn’t gonna take long…): “I don’t dance.” Thank God, she replied (surprisingly!) in kind.Andy-Grammer-Keep-Your-Head-Up

The song was Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up.”

You gotta keep your head up, oh
And you can let your hair down…

Step side-to-side, I got it (sort of). Add hands and body, I began to lose it. I thought, No Way am I gonna shake my tush in this room, with windows to my side, friends and co-workers nearby, What Are We Doing???

Then I looked around. One hundred-plus women shimmied around the room, each with her own size, shape, and style. Our group founder, about five gals in front of me and about as close to 90 as I am to 50, wiggled and giggled with glee. The smile stretching across her face, the obvious joy-filled un-self-consciousness she was experiencing, it moved me.

I remembered to Dare Myself. To Say Yes (also one of the rules of improv – always say “Yes, and…” – which also means you are fully present in the moment, Not Overthinking).

I let go. I shook my hands, my hair, and my rear. It could not have been pretty, but it was free. I reveled in the beauty of the story we’d heard, of how one gal found her way back to herself through dance and movement.

I believe we were made to move, and we all move to a different beat. And I believe we all have a passion, each different from the others, something that brings us to life and energizes those nearby. The dance-mama found her jive in Zumba. Mine is writing – I get bright-eyed and energetic thinking about what I will write next. It’s not all joy; some of it is excruciating hard work, but it’s still worth it. It’s my passion.

What’s yours?