Category Archive: Creativity

I Listen Best in the Quiet …

“I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence. …

Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.”

These words from Sarah Young’s JESUS CALLING touched my heart. They resonated with my thoughts about rest these last weeks. God speaks to me in  many ways. Some, like a soft breeze, are tender and enveloping, like a sweet whisper on the air. Others, like a thunder and lightning storm, are an awesome display of His creativity and power. And a radiant, coral-colored sunset speaks to me of His glory.

Don and I traveled a lot this Spring. Six trips in the last six months. Each has been meaningful: opportunities to walk and talk and bask in the beauty of God’s creation and man’s creativity in other parts of the world; to serve staff and children in Mexico whom we’ve learned to love over the past eight years; to learn and share and deepen writing skills at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference; and to travel to Canada with my mother to reconnect with many extended family members we haven’t seen for years.

We are grateful for these opportunities God gave us to travel, meet new friends, serve others, and meet family again. But our delight in travel caused us to plan a little too much in too compressed a time this Spring. Don felt he had to accomplish three times the amount of work between trips in order to prepare for our next absence. I tried to do laundry, schedule transportation, and prepare for the next trip while writing and keeping in touch with family and friends here. We felt unable to catch up at home between jaunts. Don’t misunderstand–I’m very grateful for these blessings; but scripture also tells us to rest, to plan wisely. Don and I agreed we didn’t do that this year and have committed to more time at home next Spring.

Since being home these past two weeks without another trip in the wind, we both feel more relaxed. We’ve been able to work at a reasonable pace. We’ve taken time to sit on our glider swing and enjoy the gentle breeze while eating a light lunch and catching up with each other, or planning for changes in the garden, or just laughing with each other over some little tickle to our funny bone. Yesterday I sat at the piano and played, a time of personal worship, something I haven’t done for a long time.

So, I am enjoying taking more naps, putting my feet up, playing “grab the stick” with Paigey, being with people we love, and sitting with my guy. And I’m thankful for this particular season of refreshing.

If God doesn’t build the house,
    the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?” Psalm 127:1-2 MSG

My prayer is that you will experience God’s rest this week in a meaningful way.

QUESTION: How do you best experience rest? Are you in need of it right now? I’d love to hear.

 

The Gifts of Rest

We greeted each other with open arms and hearts. It was a day to be together, to sit alone with God, and to share with each other what He revealed to each of us during our time with Him.

My five “Fab Friday” girlfriends brought scones, mini quiches, bananas, juice; I added cantaloupe and coffee. Mmmmm … after we satisfied our tummies and were challenged with scripture, each of us found a quiet place to be still with God for the next hour and a half.

I stayed on the turquoise couch in “Carol’s Cottage” (our guest house) and looked out at the birch tree, swaying in the breeze. When Don and I sit on our porch glider and look across the fields, this tree sways in the wind and dances in the sunlight, its leaves reflecting silver as they are impacted by the breeze. As the tree submits, yields to the power of the wind, so I desire to submit to the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Part of what I wrote to my heavenly Father says, “I praise you for the sounds of chirping birds, cared for by your gracious hospitality on the earth. They don’t worry or fret, but they are fed. The blue coat of the scrub jay, the sheen on the purple martin, the wings of a hummingbird, which are only seen as a blur because of their lightning speed … all speak to my ears and eyes of Your glory, and your provision. And they honor You just by being. They serve nature, the hummingbird flitting into one blossom and depositing pollen in another. Yet they’re not striving, as I so often do …”

When I’m fatigued, my temper is short, my tolerance low. And yet God often gives supernatural grace to respond differently than I feel.

Rest comes in different forms.

  • Physical: often when I find myself short-tempered and impatient, frustrated, out of sorts, or engaging in “stinkin’ thinkin’, rest is the first thing I need. I love to sink into our bed and fall into a renewing, refreshing sleep.
  • Emotional:  a walk on the beach or through the woods, relaxed time with friends with whom I can be vulnerable, a belly laugh, or a good hug from my hubby, soothes my heart. Sometimes I need a good cry.
  • Spiritual: As God’s creations, we are not divided into parts. Our physical, emotional and spiritual beings are intertwined and so, sometimes the walk on the beach also brings about spiritual times of refreshing. Rest can bring me back to a balance in all of life. Spending time in God’s word, especially the Psalms which are so expressive of our humanity and need, brings renewal. And in prayer I share my burdens with God.

As I thought about this, I realize that, for me, rest leads to:

  • Creativity, when my mind isn’t trying to track with multiple needs and is open to new thoughts, ideas, and plotlines.
  • Openness to see and appreciate the beauty around me.
  • Delighting in God, and in life, when I’m not just focused on “the next thing”.
  • Listening (how often do I forget to listen before speaking?)
  • Peace, that tender feeling of being cocooned in God’s love.
  • Margin in my heart, mind and spirit which frees me with space to share with others, with grace instead of resentment.

These are amazing, life-giving gifts … so why don’t I/we take more time to be still with God, to be renewed, to rejoice in His goodness, to delight in His presence? I am choosing to more of this going forward.

A yellow butterfly flitted past the window and I smiled, thanking God for beauty.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14, NLT

May you make space for quiet stillness this week so that your heart can be renewed.

Do you struggle with the pace of our culture, as I do? How do you find rest for your body, spirit, and soul? What renews you?

 

Raising the Walls

Once again our hearts are full. When we arrived at Rancho Santa Marta a week ago, (http://www.ranchosantamarta.org/), we saw a cement pad where “Victor’s Casa Nueva” (Victor’s new house) would be. When we left Saturday morning, the interior and exterior walls were framed, and the men had started building and putting up roof trusses. The day I saw the walls framed and lying on the cement pad was a thrill. With my camera, I recorded our guys working together, standing in a line to raise that wall. Wow! Great picture of the Body of Christ and how He desires that we encourage, support and help each other to reach a common goal.

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... Lift!

 

Team members stepped in as needed. No arguments about assignments, and lots of  help given as needed at any particular time, whether it was working with a nail gun, picking up more lumber, cooking a meal or doing KP afterward.

 

 

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Many hands lift a heavy wall …

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… And brace it.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31.

 

 

 

Some of the women (including me) also had fun working with resident children on crafts. They painted, glued and decorated popsicle stick frames, then we glued in their photos and added a ribbon as a hook. Coloring was also a focus; and one of the older “boys” (he’s about 30) spent a long time looking through pictures in a Spanish-English book, asking us to say the words in Spanish. I almost felt like I was the one in school!

Using creativity

Creativity in action

 

I’m so thankful for this wonderful ministry, the hearts and service of its leaders, and the children who are being loved and taught here. Pain is certainly present, with baggage from challenging backgrounds, and with occasional rebellion or departure from the ranch. But these kids live and grow in a family environment, learning about God’s great love for them, loving each other. And so there is hope. I can’t wait to return next year. Want to join us?

 

For more information about RSM’s ministry and needs, go to http://www.ranchosantamarta.org/.

 

May God guide us as we look for opportunities to serve Him this week, wherever we are.

Beholding

View of the multiple shades of blue in the warm Hawaiian waters

View of the multiple shades of blue in the warm Hawaiian waters

We fly through enormous cotton candy clouds and look down to see whitecaps dancing on the blue and turquoise waters. Green fields of sugar cane enter our view through the plane’s window, interspersed with other crops, surrounded by iron-rich red soil, and interrupted by rugged, velvet-covered mountains.

Don and I are descending to the island of Maui for a much needed break.

Rene spoke Sunday about “beholding” – really seeing, focusing on, the beauty of God through His Word as well as His creation.

The last months have been full with preparations for a “zero” party for Don (for the uninitiated, that’s a birthday that ends in a zero) last weekend; preparing a rental house for sale; and dealing with our little Paigey’s health challenges as well as my own, which I wrote about last week.

Along with these practical tasks, we’ve had guests, visited dear friends out of state to say goodbye as the husband dealt with cancer, lost the friend we visited, and learned of several others with significant health challenges.

The season has been intense and painful and disheartening and wonderful.

So now we’re running away. Yes, we have good care in place for Paige and Kelly. The house is almost back in shape after the delightful party last weekend. And we grieve with our friend who is without her husband of many years.

But God has blessed us with this opportunity to relax in the sun, sleep, read, eat, sleep, sun, eat, read. Just the two of us. Time to put aside our side-by-side work over the summer and focus on our Creator and on each other as we walk hand in hand along beaches and kiss at glorious sunsets.

It’s at least fifteen years since I’ve been in Hawaii; for Don, more like 50! We want to stop, look, listen, BEHOLD and ADORE our God.

In such busyness, how and where do you “behold” your God?

Creativity, and the Master Creator

celtic woman 2The violinist danced onto the stage, tossing her long, straight blond hair from side to side as she maintained a continuous, lilting melody on the strings of her instrument–a seemingly impossible combination of music and movement.

Backing her were drums, guitars, a piano, and bagpipe. The sounds of Ireland were pure and strong.

Don and I had traveled to Fresno, three hours from home, to hear Celtic Woman, a group I’ve long wanted to see in person. Here we were in the William Saroyan Theater, Row H, Seats 37-38, anticipating the joy of the evening’s music.

celtic woman 3Then, through the darkness and mist at the back of the stage, entered three lovely women clad in elegant, jeweled gowns. As they sang, their harmonies danced around and over each other, making it difficult to know who was singing which part at any one time. The blend and cross-over of their voices, along with the music of the instruments, was sublime. The melodies, costumes, and dance drew me into a mythical world of fairies and woodland nymphs and minor tunes and joy and yearning and passion.

mairead-susan-lynn-mairead celtic womanWe heard the sounds of pain and hunger suffered throughout Irish history and famines. And out of that pain has come incredible creativity which emanates from our Master Creator, the God of the universe, the One who promised to

    • “provide for those who grieve in Zion—
    • to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    • the oil of joy instead of mourning,
    • and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3a, NIV)

All good things come from God. The Master Creator, He weaves our lives in and out of situations where we don’t always know whether we’re carrying the melody or a harmony–or if we’re in tune at all. He brings beauty from ashes, joy rather than mourning.

Chills filled me as I heard a bagpipe coming from our left. The air moved through the pipes as he soloed, walking toward the stage. Just as he climbed the stairs, the other instruments joined his, filling the auditorium with quiet strength. Then the women entered, singing these meaningful words:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound bagpipe
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Voices and instruments crescendoed, reaching a climax of praise to God.  And one day every created thing will give Him praise and honor as we fall on our knees before His majesty, glory, and grace.