Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When Your Creator Invites You to Join Him in the Garden

by Cathy Baker

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

On a recent date night with the hubster we dropped by Mr. K's Used Books, a favorite spot. I picked up a book with this series in mind and a sweet giveaway in the near future!

Georgia Heard, author of Writing Towards Home, shares what I believe to be a great outdoor date with our Creator. Doesn't spending time outside make you feel a wee bit closer to God? It does me. That is, until a bee pulls a kamikaze move and then my mind wanders elsewhere. But I digress. Back to our date!

"Sometimes a way of translating what is startling or painful is to make a metaphor. T.S. Eliot call this the objective correlative, where an image from the outside world carries the meaning of the world inside. Let your mind rest on something that's difficult for you, see what images come to mind that might be connected. Write them down quickly, put them in a drawer, and make a date with yourself to look at them again in one month or two or three." - Georgia Heard, Writing Towards Home

Save the Date:
One of the first places God spent time with his creation was in a garden (Genesis 2:8), as well as one of the last (Luke 22: 39-46). Now it's our turn. 

You're Invited:
Head outdoors. Find a place to sit and rest awhile. As you notice the details of your surroundings ask God to open your eyes to see beyond the obvious. Maybe there's a lesson or a word of encouragement waiting just for you. Did you catch how the wind gently blows yesterday's petals from their pedestal but the flower itself remains? What's one takeaway from your simple study? Remember, metaphors are powerful. Jesus used them in His teachings. He was the master of metaphors and the best teachers I know use them today. They are profitable for writing, deeper comprehension, and most certainly, life.

Yet, Lord, you are our father.
We are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the product of your labor. Isaiah 64:8

[As always, I welcome any comments you would like to share! I'm at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference this week so it will be a few days before I can respond.]

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Day-Dreamy Date at the Cafe

by Cathy Baker

Remember this post?

Today's date with your artist within includes a trip to your local coffee or tea shoppe. Now, this is my kind of date! 

"Write out your ideal day. Take yourself out to a coffee shop or cafe. Settle in with a notepad and give yourself permission to dream. Imagine, in vivid detail, your ideal day. Where are you? What are you doing? Who shared the day with you? When did you wake up? What did you eat? What activity did you engage in? Fill in the details of your day. Be specific." -Julia Cameron, The Miracle of the Artist Date

Save the Date:
Play time comes easy for some. For others, like myself, not so much. Don't get me wrong. Spending time with my grandchildren, hanging out with friends (especially during "lobby time" at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference!), and mountain trips with my hubster makes me downright giddy. But sometimes the seriousness of intentionality tempers my more playful side. For instance, instead of writing about my ideal day I'd be more likely to write out my current to-do's and details for future projects. It just seems like a better use of time. (wink wink)  

Sometimes the best use of time is releasing the need to find the best use of time. 

You're Invited:
Pick a day. Pack up your notebook and head to your favorite cafe. Your date awaits. If you want to go on a double date, let me know!

So where are you and your artist within headed for your day-dreamy date? If you're at the conference with me this week, I have a feeling the cafe of choice will be The Clouds. :)

[As always, I welcome any comments you would like to share! I'm at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference this week so it will be a few days before I can respond.]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

This Date is Only a Prayer Away

by Cathy Baker

I've been a proponent of morning quiet times since becoming a Christ-follower years ago. Here's why:
  • Jesus prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35)
  • Morning prayer is recorded in the Word (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 90:14, etc.)
  • It sets the tone for the day. 
  • I'm a morning person.
But what happens when we heap guilt emphasize the time of the day we meet with God more than the "date" itself?

Laura J. Boggess touches on this in the sixth chapter of Playdates with God...Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, entitled Super Soaker: When Life Feels Dry:

"When did we decide that the morning quiet time was the gold standard? Yes, Jesus rose early in the morning to meet with God, but he prayed at night, too (Luke 6:12). And Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. Do we get so hung up on the way our quiet time should look that we don't meet with God at all? I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to look like everyone else—if we embraced our own unique personalities in our spiritual lives.

Some people love to pray as they walk their neighborhood, some as they climb mountains, some as they create paintings. Some might quilt—every stitch a prayer. 

Invite him in. He wants to be with you. Yes, you. You with the freckles and the spare tire. You with a quick temper who loves to sleep in. You, the one who learns in pictures and struggles to sit down and read. He wants to be with you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. (No matter what color they are.) And he probably counts the freckles for fun." - Laura J. Boggess

Save the Date:
Morning, noon, or matters not. What matters, as you know, is making the time to meet with the living God who loves us with such an extravagant kind of love.

You're Invited:
Whether you're stitching your prayers away, or walking them off, what's one new way you might try spending time with God this week? No other date will rival this one. 

So, are you an early riser/pray-er or do you prefer another time of day? 

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Monday, May 11, 2015

Inviting Your Creative Self On A Date

by Cathy Baker

Your creative energy called. Yet the only thing it heard on the receiving end was a busy signal: 

Beep. (My schedule is packed.)
Beep. (I'm not a creative person.)
Beep. (Who has the energy for creativity?)

No wonder it feels a bit neglected, even forgotten. It's time to take the artist within on a date. 

The Artist Date is a basic tool of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She asks her students to undertake one Artist Date per week. 

"I tell students to seek mystery, not mastery on their dates. I urge them to explore with childlike wonder rather than adult intellect. Artist Dates are intended to be fun." - Julia Cameron

If at this point you're asking why you should continue reading this post, remember: in whatever way(s) our Creator gifted you, there is a place for creativity...for He is most creative of all. 

Save the Date:
The first Artist Date Julia proposes is this: go to a park. "A park is a very concentrated dose of beauty. Note the plantings carefully plotted out. Note the diversity of the vegetation. You may wish to carry a camera. Record your favorite sight. Allow yourself to dawdle. Soak in the season. Give yourself at least an hour. Scoop up a pine cone. Fill your pockets with acorns. Feel your mind unkinking. Say hello to your soul." 

You're Invited: 
What nearby park would be the perfect place for your first Artist Date?

"Art is an image-using system," I tell students. "Imagine yourself as having an inner trout pond filled with images. When you use your creativity, you are drawing from this inner pond. When you draw on it heavily, you will over-fish your pond. Images will be harder and harder to come by unless you begin to consciously replenish your store of images. Taking your Artist Date replenishes your pond." - Julia Cameron


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Save the Date: Bring Your Own Candle

by Cathy Baker

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a recent favorite read, "Playdates with God...Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-Up World," by Laura J. Boggess. 

In this book she shares how she was once a rule-follower. She went from one extreme to another, as legalists often do. Tangled up in the to-do's, her soul found no rest.

Holley Gerth's endorsement rings true: "Laura Boggess invites us into intimacy  with God in the everyday moments of life. This intimacy is not about striving but rather enjoying, not about laboring but instead, being loved, not about losing ourselves but about finally being found in the ways we've longed for all our lives."

In Chapter 4, titled Bird Watching, the joy of new beginnings, Laura reminds us of what it felt like in the early stages of romantic love. Remember that feeling? We thought of him/her throughout the day, we couldn't spend enough time with our new-found love, and sometimes we couldn't eat because of the excitement (this one has always eluded me). 

Think back to the time you first fell in love with Jesus. I know for me I couldn't get enough of His Word, being around His people, or jotting down notes. Although my love for His Word has not wavered over the years, I admit some of the fervor has at times.  

James 4:8 tells us, "Come near to God and he will come near to you." Sometimes it's as simple as recognizing His ever-so-close presence in our daily lives. 

Save the Date: 
Laura shares how each time she approaches God in her home, she lights a candle. "God doesn't need that candle to meet with me. But I do. Every time my mind gets distracted, all I need to do is glance at that flickering flame, and I am reminded that I am not alone. It is because of my own weakness that I seek out ways to bring my mind and heart into awareness that there is more to this world than what my eyes can see. God is so much much more than I can understand." 

Similarly, I've added a chair nearby to remind me of His presence during my quiet time with Him.

You're Invited:
How about you? Is there something you do, or have done in the past, to remind you of your First Love's ever abiding presence? 

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. Revelation 2:4, 5a

And the winner of last week's drawing for the Soy Lavender Field candle is...Mary Beth Dahl! Congratulations, Mary Beth, and thanks to all those who participated. Stay tuned for this month's drawing later in May!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Coming Up in May: Engaging God and Your Creative Senses

by Cathy Baker

May is "National Date Your Mate Month" but we're going to add our own creative spin (pun intended) to the mix. 

This month, I'll be sharing a variety of ways to date—but not just our mate. I'll be using these two main resources, along with anything else the Lord lays on my heart to share:
  • Playdates with God, by Laura J. Boggess
  • Artist Dates, by Julia Cameron
We'll explore what it means to spend time with God in fresh and unique ways through Laura's book and through Julia's, we'll learn how to nurture our God-given creative selves through one-in-one dates.

I'm excited about our May dates. How about you? 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 
Romans 12:9-10

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When Joy Doesn't Come Naturally

by Cathy Baker

So here we are on the final day of our April theme and the one post I didn't want to write refuses to loosen its grip. 

Truth is, I selfishly chose this subject because I feel like a total failure when it comes to exuding joy. I look at others who seem to naturally tap into that particular fruit of the Spirit with such ease and wonder why it seems more difficult for me. Is it because I'm a bona fide melancholy introvert?  

While preparing to kick off the April series, I said to a friend, "I'm not a naturally joyful person." And there it was -- my answer. 

There's nothing natural about biblical joy. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds... James 1:2

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy...1 Peter 1:8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Be joyful always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Biblical joy isn't grounded in a particular temperament 
or swayed by outward circumstances.
It is the supernatural manifestation of Christ
that flows in and through us.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. There's still much exploring to do on the subject of joy so maybe we'll pick it up again another month. 

Coming Up in May...

In the meantime, let me give you a sneak peek into May's theme: Save the Date - Engaging God and Your Creative Senses. You may just be surprised by the ideas that unfold next month. The new posts begin Monday, May 4th. Hope to see you there!