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.

Unlocking the Creative Process

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This morning, I was pleased to happen upon a blog series initiated by Darrell at This is Me Thinking. Whether it has to do with developing a teaching, a blog post, writing a devotional, visioneering a retreat, helping a child with a diorama, setting the table for a party… creative muscles need to be flexed. There are times when these muscles get weak and even feel like they have atrophied. It was a good prompt to get me thinking about what needs to happen in order to get creative about some things coming up in the Fall. So, here is what I know about my creative process {which clearly needs to be better organized and formulated with some order}.

Being a working mom requires multi tasking but in order to get anything done, focused time is a must. For the inevitable moments of busyness, I always have a notebook handy or Evernote within reach. This gives me access to space where thoughts, ideas and inspiration are recorded to be further developed when I actually get some focused time for a project. If It’s not recorded, it will disappear.

Music is a must. Ever since high school, when I’ve needed to buckle down and write, Ive needed a secluded space with classical music turned on, taking my fingers to the keyboard. This practice has carried me through college and throughout every job that requires writing. Now, occasionally I will switch it up with some jazz or worship music. I’m pretty selective though because music can also distract me with lyrics.

Lately, a visual muse has helped as well. I will visit sites like Pinterest or Creation Swap to find images of real life, art, books, people and music to spark an idea or develop a plan to bring an idea to fruition. For example, this is a teaching on “expectation” waiting to happen:

People. People are so inspiring. Getting insights from others, seeing the Word of God, and getting glimpses of the ordinary through different eyes brings much more richness to my own perspective. Another beautiful reason why God places us in community. People also help me get my ideas into action. Without being able to verbally process and tap into gifts other people have, my ideas would just be… ideas.

A change of scenery is also beneficial. Every summer our family takes a trip to Yosemite. Being in the grandeur of God’s creation always stirs up ideas. But when I can’t get to Yosemite, a new coffee shop or a walk by the beach can also get things in motion.

Finally, there is nothing more prompting, more inspiring, more edifying, more encouraging and more grounding than the revelation of God through His Spirit and Word. To read the story of the Divine Creator, experiencing His goodness, reading and seeing that God still creates, develops, doesn’t give up on, produces and works through imperfect people never gets old. It gives me courage to actually take the steps of making ideas into reality, helping me realize my ideas are not my own, the vision should be shared and the outcome belongs to Him.

What does your creative process look like?

This post is part of Darrell Vesterfelt’s series in the personal creative process. You can read more and contribute your own here.

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.