Thirty-One {31 Days of Wisdom}

Unfortunately, the Proverbs 31 Woman has become some kind of caricature of femininity in this post-modern culture we live in. When her address is mentioned, eyes either roll with irritation or sink low with condemnation and feelings of not being good enough. Yet God sees fit to include her likeness in the pages of Wisdom and the twenty-one verses about her were written actually as a blessing rather than a “To-Be” list for all women who would come after her.

As one friend pointed out, if you read carefully you won’t misunderstand and believe this is a daily docket of her life. She does not do all these things in one day and most likely not in one season either. Verse 28 says, “her children rise up and call her blessed,” indicating when her children grow up, they realize how blessed she is to have been able to care for her family, her employees, her community, the poor, and of course her man. Perhaps her life ebbed and flowed according to each season of the year and each season of her life because she knew who gave her each day and breathed life into them.

I started this project of 31 Days of Wisdom because there are some things in my life right now that require an extra measure of wisdom, the kind I know I don’t have and the kind I know can only come from God. I need it to guide me and help me before a word is on my tongue and before I take any actions. I also wanted to treat it as a writing project… to read the words and then respond immediately in my heart. These posts were both excercise in writing and of the soul. In the last month, I’ve learned a bit about writing and blogging, but I’ve also learned more about me and my God:

1. I need to watch what I say. Words are powerful…what they say and when they are said. In almost every chapter there is something about what our conversation can do for a person and a situation. I want to be a life-giving person in word and deed and in a split second a word or two coming out of my mouth can take life and with that… much more time to repair.

2. Wisdom is like a garden that requires tending. The vegetables I planted in the Spring are all gone. The tomato plants were so prolific I literally couldn’t keep up with them. I let them go too long and their vines were attacked by aphids and all kinds of things of which I have no idea about. The fruit shriveled up and their branches became dry. The word of God is seriously prolific… it’s living and active and it’s amazing what happens when it comes to life. But to live by it and live through it requires tending. To get wisdom, one must pursue wisdom, one must ask for it. Solomon who wrote these Proverbs knew that well. He could have had anything he wanted, but instead he asked for wisdom. God gave it to Him and then some…. But if I ignore it, like the tomato plants in my yard, the fruit will shrivel and be tasteless…useless and the branches dry. Living water, every day.

3. The Proverbs 31 woman taught me the necessity of accepting the seasons we are in. This is not the season in my life when I can write a blog post every day. I was getting stressed out about posting every day, until I gave myself permission not to. Hence, the 31st post on November 2. But who cares? The point was to read the Proverbs, not to keep up with a non-existent standard.

4. I love to have written. When I did sit down to write, I gave myself a time limit, a goal and God fed my soul. God has created me to write, and to write is to create, and when I do so… I am grounded. My best {my favorite} writing comes from when I see Him moving among us… in whatever and where ever He has us. Writing settles my mind, it settles my heart and it releases all the stuff inside me that can come out in unproductive ways when not stewarded wisely.

5. I want my children to rise up and call me blessed. In the journey through Proverbs this month, a lot of what I read and locked my mind on had to do with raising our boys. At the end of the day, I realize Jesus is everything. And because of that, when I look in their eyes I know this is the one thing, the only thing, I desire for them as well. For Jesus to be their everything. He has to do that work in revealing Himself to them… calling them out and bringing them along. Yet in the meantime, He has chosen Steve and I to make it real to them. The faith, the doubt, the failing, the redemption, the grace the mercy… all of it has to be real in us if we want them to birth their own real love for Jesus.

So November is finally here and I will go back to posting less often, but hopefully more often than before! If you’d like to subscribe you can do so via email or a reader in the upper right of this screen.

Thanks for being on the journey with me.

Book Review: Untitled

In the quiet moments when I have a few to read, I’ve been reading and reflecting on the creative process.  Creativity is something that is required in almost every area of my life {and I’m willing to bet yours as well}.  However I have found myself stuck for quite some time and the anxiety of wanting to/needing to be creative with a newborn is well… full of angst.

So I’ve been reading here and there about the creative process and have come across a new book by Blaine Hogan called Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process.  Blaine is the Creative Director of Willow Creek Community Church and has consistently been generous with his experience and wisdom on his blog and now offers this book to those of us who need it.  A great read for anyone who does anything creative, be it parenting, pastoring, graphic designing, set decorating, photography, writing, teaching, or producing wireless technology for motorcycle officers.

Untitled is encouraging, inspiring and motivating especially if you find yourself in a cloudy place and need a bit of direction to get you moving again.

“My only rule was to spend at least one hour in front of the given surface.”

His words served as a reminder of the divine purpose of art:

“Art seeks to tell the truth in dark places (movie houses, theaters, sanctuaries, museums) and it seems to me that’s what faith in God seeks to do as well – tell the truth in dark places.”

Blaine encourages his readers to take time to be reflective.  For me this is the transformational work of Christ in me through sitting at His feet first.

“When my inner self has been explored, I tell the most truth and I create the best work.

“You have absolutely no business taking us to places you are unwilling to go yourself.”

 He also stresses the importance of the message superseding the medium… it’s more about the message than the medium.

“Any technology (medium, tool, etc.) should always be in service of a greater purpose.  A tool is just a tool until it’s been given meaning.”

Most importantly, he gives readers the courage to fail.

“When you don’t take your failures personally you open them up to becoming experiences that can transform you.”

I read the last couple of pages today which were exactly what I needed to read today:

“As I write this, my seven-week-old daughter Ruby, in a ramshackle swaddle, propped up on a pillow on my lap.  I’ve got her wedged tightly between myself and our dining room table.  When I’m not using the Shift button, I’m bouncing her with my left forearm with a little help from my left thigh. 

For seven weeks,day and night, we’ve been caring for what seems like a wild animal.

She cries for seemingly no reason and simply refuses all my pleas for silence.

But today she’s in my lap, smiling and cooing.

She knows me.

She recognizes me, I think.

It brings me to my knees and I weep. 

Her smile makes me believe that the world is good.  It makes me believe in hope and possibility.

And then she spits up.

White goo is everywhere. On the keyboard, on my shirt, on our couch pillow which, I know, I know, I should have never used in the first place.

In a flash all is lost.

The smile is replaced with a cry heard round the world or at least through the foot of concrete between our apartment and the next).

Back to work I go. Let’s try the vacuum this time. She liked that yesterday. Or how about the Baby Bjorn. Maybe another swaddle?  And where on earth is that pacifier?!

This is the creative process.

For the most part it’s just plain old unsexy work.”

 

Blaine goes on to say… It’s all worth it.

Have you read anything good lately?

High Calling Blogs

I’ve been lurking around High Calling Blogs for a couple of months and have also enjoyed getting to know a few of their editors and writers. It’s a great community of people who use their blogs for encouraging others in matters of faith, culture, work, family, attitude and leadership. Like any community, you will find people and ideas you will agree with and some you won’t. If you are interesting in blogging, writing, reading about people’s interactions with Jesus, experiences in churches and causes they are fighting for, you may find something you like.

Some of my favorites so far are Ann Kroeker, Dan King, Ann Voskamp, and Cheryl Smith.

Rejection

Yesterday, I submitted and article/story idea to a magazine. This is an arena I’ve wanted to step into for quite some time and believe I’ve prepared myself for rejection adequately enough to actually take this first step.

Once I took the step, I realized something new.

I’m more afraid of what people will think of me than I am of my work being rejected.

I wrote about something controversial, leaving me more concerned about people’s perception of who I am and what I stand for rather than my skill as a writer. It would be comforting if the article was rejected, because then I could keep hiding. My thoughts, and my values will remain somewhat private.

I will be safe.

Rejection as comfort? This is something that has never occurred to me before. Hiding is comfortable. But hoping for rejection as a means to stay comfortable is a whole new level of pride for me. Yuck.

Can you relate?

The Time Lie

I’m reading Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write. In it, she refers to what she calls the Time Lie.

“The myth that we must have “time” – more time – in order to create is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have. If we are forever yearning for more,” we are forever discounting what is offered.”

What do wish you had more time to create?

Losing My Religion

Last Summer, I purchased The Artists Wayand endeavored to spend 12 weeks going through the course.  I made it through week 1.  If you are unfamiliar with Julia Cameron’s now famous book, it involves a series of exercises and practices to help release your “inner artist.”  The first week, she invites you to participate by beginning with “morning pages,” three pages of long hand, stream of consciousness writing.  In addition, once  a week, you are to go on an artist date.  The date must be solo and involves anything that feeds your inner artist.  It could be a movie, trip to the book store, coloring with a pack of crayons, a museum, swimming, etc.  I gave up after 2 weeks.  After all, when would I ever have time alone to do any of these things?

Thinking about this now for the past year as the book collects dust on my shelf, I’ve realized I’m a lot more religious than I thought.  When I’m given direction about something, it’s difficult for me to break free from following it to a tee.  It’s not as though if I missed a weekly artist date or skipped a few morning pages, Julia Cameron would show up and slap my hand.  But I’ve noticed this in my parenting, my relationships and have also struggled with it in my view of God. 

So, this year, I’m going to give it another try and hope that it will not only release the artist within, but will also unleash some of the strongholds in my life.  I’m in week one and did my pages today.  I may not get the artist date alone, but I probably will enjoy something creative with Steve during our time-out this weekend in L.A.   I’m okay with that.

If you’ve gone through the course, I’d love to hear any of your artist date experiences.