Monday, August 3, 2015

NEW August Series...Learning is in the Air!

by Cathy Baker

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." -Picasso

Okay, so the word always is wishful thinking on my part but I am striving to be more intentional when it comes to learning and attempting new things. What kinds of things, you might ask?

During this hot muggy month of August, I'll share everything from Pic Monkey tips to lessons learned behind the spiritual woodshed. I'll even throw in the kitchen sink table (how to distress it, that is!)

One thing I'm most looking forward to is learning from you. If you post something on your blog that you're currently learning, or have recently learned, (hey, is this a challenge?) I will link your blog post here. After all, sharing what we learn is what makes it so much fun! Agree?

So, let's kick this new series off right. What's one thing you would like to learn this month, or what are you currently learning? 

****Congratulations to Susan Ely {The Shared Table...Breaking Bread, Building Relationships}, the winner of the Starbucks giveaway in July! Watch for the next giveaway coming up later this month.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 Quotes on Creativity and the July Giveaway!

by Cathy Baker

A quote often says more than an entire essay. It's a morsel, rich with perspective, cutting through all the fluff. For this reason, we're bringing our July series to a close with five favorite quotes on creativity.

"A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." -Frank Capra

"It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life." 
-Barthold Georg Niebuhr

"The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master—something that at times strangely wills and works for itself." -Charlotte Bronte

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties." -Erich Fromm

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -Maya Angelou

Something for You

It's hard to beat a cup of Starbucks brew (cold brew, that is -- my new favorite!) so simply share your favorite quote from above in the comment section below. Your name will be included in the random drawing taking place this Friday morning for a Starbucks gift card. A cup of coffee or tea is waiting to be handcrafted just for you by your local barista.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Link Between Creativity and Sabbath Rest

by Cathy Baker

Not so long ago I sensed the Holy Spirit gently reaching for the key to my ignition as I earnestly spun my creative wheels in the mud of my own making. Every extra moment was spent working on blog posts and other writing projects, especially on Sunday afternoons. After all, what's more relaxing than stressing over content?

I don't know about you, but one way I detect that God's power has been kidnapped, if you will, by that of the fleshly sort is that I become exhausted—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Working hard is a good thing. Overdoing it for all the wrong reasons is not. 

Image by Pixabay // Hans
For me, it always comes back to the question of WHY I write, or do anything else, quite frankly. When I remember that my whole purpose in writing, teaching, speaking, creating, etc. is to bring God glory, a rest envelopes me much like the shade from a sprawling oak on a hot summer day.

 "God is more concerned about our integrity than our personal success."
-Arleen Jennings, Created to Be Creative

If it's been awhile since you've answered the question of WHY you are doing what you're doing, perhaps today is that day. It has a way of cutting through all the excuses, the when-will-my-day-come questions and getting straight to the heart of the matter.

My refusing to rest, especially on a day God provides for exactly that, was a form of pride. Yes, it was a painful realization but I thank God for it. Now, I set aside Sunday afternoons for true rest (and yes, that includes a NASCAR race!) When I'm tempted to start the next blog post or project (which I do enjoy!) I recognize that God set the pattern for rest. He chose to rest one day of the week, who am I to do otherwise?

"You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:11

Your turn. What's one indicator that flesh has kidnapped the Spirit's control in your life? 

One of our teaching pastors, Kyle Estepp, recently talked on Sabbath Rest. It was by far the best sermon either Brian or myself have ever heard on the subject. If you would like to listen, visit Summit's site here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

When God Double-Dog Dares You

by Cathy Baker

"And by the way, everything in life is writeable about
if you have the outgoing guts to do it
and the imagination to improvise.The worst enemy to
creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

"Travel writing sounds awesome." It wasn't the answer I expected.

If you know me, you know that travel has been problematic ever since a car accident back in 1984. Back roads are doable, to a point. Highways, um, no.

Graphic courtesy of Sound Valley
So, when given the opportunity to pitch three ideas for a monthly column over at A-3 no one was more surprised than me to find that I'd scribbled the words travel writing on my page of possibilities. Surely it was a momentary lapse in judgment!

Instead of pitching three ideas, I decided to agree on the one subject the editor wanted and needed at the time—grammar. I had the email ready to go. Problem was, my finger refused to hit the send button. In doing so, I felt I'd be settling for the known, and not trusting God with the unknown. 

Rather than hitting the send key, the one ripe with guaranteed success, the delete key was struck instead. I started a new email and this time, travel writing was included as one of the three pitches. I glanced heavenward with a smile, feeling almost like a kid that had been double-dog dared. With one tap, the email was sent and all I could do was wait. 

I found myself delighting in God's sense of humor. Travel writing, really? I had nothing to offer on the subject 
except my own reluctance. 

In the hours that passed between the pitch and the response, I was reminded of Buttercup. Remember her? She's the 1963 Shasta Airflyte my hubby bought me for our 25th Anniversary coming up in October. I purchased a domain name for her the day we were introduced, confident that God was up to something with me and the subject of travel. (We look forward to our maiden voyage very soon.)

As I anxiously awaited the editor's response, I continued praying that God would guide him to make the right decision for me. Because I prayed this believing He would, I rest in the fact that He did just that—despite the self-doubt and relentless accusations within. For example, How can you, oh reluctant traveler (except for the mountains) be a travel writer? 

I don't know what God is stirring up but I know I'm not afraid to research, work hard, and pray for a mile-long dose of creativity to throw in the mix. So there, Satan! Get behind me. 

Join me over at A-3 this Friday, July 24th for my first posting! It is sure to be an exciting adventure.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to Feed Your Creativity Via Shopping. Yes, Shopping!

by Cathy Baker
My choice includes anything literary focused.

Being an office supply nerd, I confess this Artist Date made me a tad giddy. Thank you, Julia Cameron. 

Go to a stationery store. Give yourself time to stroll the aisles. What appeals to you? Do you want classic ivory stationery, or do you want something more zany? Your choice of note card sends a signal telling the world what kind of person you are, formal or casual, decorous or frivolous. Stationery makes a first impression. If you have it, you will use it. -Julia Cameron

Now let's take it a step further. Purchase the stationery you feel best describes you (no window shopping allowed!) and then turn around and write someone. It could be someone who played a part in your being the zany-fied person that you are or someone who has been on your mind lately. I believe you already know the person who will receive your card. 

Your turn. What does your stationery have on the front cover of the card?

“Creativity lies in paradox: 

serious art is born from serious play.” - The Artist's Way


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

You Are Called to Create

by Cathy Baker

A favorite childhood memory took place out back behind my grandmother's house. There, on her scuffed red cement steps I concocted masterpieces in the form of mud pies. People came from miles around just to taste a morsel. Or at least that's the world my only-child mind created. 

"From the old lady who fills a page with doodling as she talks on the phone, to the man who welds dinosaurs in the middle of the desert out of wrecked car parts, all around us are examples of this mysterious, powerful urge to create, to be creative, to live out or somehow respond to the beauty of our creative Father. We are driven to create at this deep wordless level of the soul because we are all fashioned in the image of God who is an Artist." - Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand

"God is an artist and he is beautiful. He has woven his image into the fabric of our lives, which explains our drive to create things which are beyond us and which we don't always understand." - Michael Card

Try this: Consider the sanctuary of your church and other church sanctuaries where you have worshiped. Which space best expressed the beauty of the Lord and drew your heart toward him, and why? You may want to sketch the spaces to remind yourself of how they looked and the elements they contained. 

Now suppose you have the job of designing a church sanctuary. How would you make it reflect the beauty of the Creator. Sketch out some plans. Don't worry about the quality of your artwork. -Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand Study Guide

How did your creative spark play out when you were a child? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Feed Your Creativity! Collage Your Creative Dream

by Cathy Baker

If you're a perfectionist like myself, you'll especially benefit from this Artist Date with your creative self. There's no right way to do this so relax and have fun!

You'll need:
  • Poster board (I purchased the 1/4" thicker type)
  • Magazines (my favorite part)
  • Scissors
  • Two-sided tape or glue stick
And now for the fun part:

"Collage your creative dream. This exercise is a potent form of prayer. Working with a dozen or so magazines, tear out images that speak of your dream. Paste these images on a sheet of poster board. Add a photo of yourself. Place the photo centrally, surrounded by images of your creative dream. This is a visual prayer. It is very powerful, as it bypasses our rational mind and its resistance. Seeing is believing!" -Julia Cameron, The Miracle of the Artist's Date.

This is a visual reminder of your dreams, goals, and priorities. A few years ago, Carolyn Knefley, of Christian Communicators, taught me how to create my own story board:

It's your story, your dream. Create what you sense God is calling you to do, and perhaps most importantly, who He is calling you to be. In addition to images, I included scripture references as well as biblical reminders. If you look closely, you'll see the image of a man scattering seeds in the center of my board. This image stands to remind me that my responsibility is to live in response to the Gospel of Christ, allowing it to penetrate everything I do and say, and write. 

Where the seeds take root and flourish is of God's choosing. It's all Him, not me. It's for this reason it remains center stage.

What do you see taking center stage on your story board once you create it, if you haven't already? You can be as general or as specific as you wish. 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV

Related Link:
A Storyboard for Inspiration (my post on the above board.)