Archives for October 2013

On making art

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“To me the purpose of art is to produce something alive…but with a separate, and of course one hopes, with an everlasting life of its own. ” ~ Henry Green  

Once upon a time, I considered becoming a midwife. It is a high calling to usher in a new life, to bridge the gap between pain and joy, to deliver the eternal into the temporal–little souls preexistent, now breathing and fully alive.  I considered it until I heard about the malpractice suits and the unpredictable hours. And then there was the screaming. Midwives deal with a lot of hand clutching and blood and screaming.

I gave up on the idea of midwifery for good after attending one too many scary births in my work as a nurse in neonatal intensive care. It only took one father yelling for Jesus to save his baby, one round of CPR to a blue-tinged newborn, one baby nearly dead, but now alive beneath my shaking hands, to turn me off to the entire situation. My heart can only handle so many close calls. However, I love the work of a midwife. I admire her ability to bring forth a life that already exists. The midwife is the bridge, the go-between, the one who holds hands with what is and what will be. They are artists, bringing order into chaos, beauty into darkness.

Instead of choosing midwifery, I chose to become a mother. I chose a job with lots of hand clutching, blood, and (God help me) screaming. Don’t even get me started on the unpredictable hours. I am on call 24/7. The malpractice suits may not exist, but something is always heading slightly off the rails. But, despite my deficiencies, I’m bridging the gap. Right now, I am ushering little souls into this big, bad world. I am the first heartbeat my children will ever know, the first ears, the first set of hands, the first to see how the shape of their soul fits into this particular space in time.

Instead of choosing midwifery, I chose to become a writer. If ever there were hand clutching, heart clutching, head-in-hands clutching, this is it. If ever there were screaming and tears and laboring to help birth something, anything, this is it. If ever there was a midwife, holding hands with both joy and pain, this is it. The stories already exist, they were written before time. It is simply my job as a writer, as a midwife of words, to help bring them to life, to offer my hands as a safe place for them to take their first breath.

I am writing chapters for a book that exists only in my head right now, and there is no way of knowing what will happen to them as I release them into the world. I am the one fussing over them, asking Jesus to breathe life into my words. I am the midwife, the mother, the artist, hoping to bring out this work. Hoping it will eventually have a life of its own.

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Thank you so much for sharing your art with me on Monday. What a gift, to see what happens in the secret places of your heart. Today, I want to know what you’re helping birth into this world? Babies, puppies, sweet cakes?

I’m linking up with Emily, who’s asking readers to highlight the art they’re making in their lives, as she finishes her month long series on art.

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A Million Little Ways: Review and Giveaway

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 ******This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much for your interest.*********

I don’t do giveaways. Not because I don’t think they’re awesome (they are), but because I rarely manage to keep up with the goings on in my everyday off-line life. Add in internet goings on, and there’s no end to the chaos I might create. The mothers on the receiving end of my emails, fulfilling my duties as Classroom Mom, would heartily agree. I’m a train wreck when it comes to the details.

But, today calls for a giveaway, and I’m committed to following through. If you’ve read here for any length of time, you know I am a fan (I prefer not to call myself a stalker) of Emily Freeman and her writing. This fall, she released her third book called A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. I scooped up a copy as soon as it showed up on the shelves, and highlighted the life out of it.

This book. Friend, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an artist or not, this book will turn you inside out. It is for each one of us who has asked the question “What do I have to offer the world?” and feared that the answer is “Nothing.” Emily looks deep into what it means to live life as an artist, one who is created in the image of God, with the express purpose of bearing His image in this world. We each have something to offer, and what we offer comes out when we live our lives “like a lyric and not a list”.

Emily says this, ” …we have the capacity to reflect the relational glory of God no matter who we’re with, what we’re doing, or what’s gone wrong. This is when art is a verb rather than a noun. It isn’t something you point to, it’s a way you live.”

If you feel stuck, fearful, or confused about what you have to offer, consider living like art is a verb. If you’re not sure where to start, start with A Million Little Ways. It walks you through a process of discovery and helps you uncover your art. Because I love this book so very much, and I want all of us to learn how to live like an artist, I’m giving away two copies of Emily’s book today.

Leave a comment, and I’ll pick two winners at random to receive a book. Be sure to include your contact details. Tell me, what does living like an artist mean to you?

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The Bloom book club at (in)courage is using A Million Little Ways for their current discussion. If you’re looking to dig deeper into the book with others, you might consider joining them. Check out Bloom for more of Emily and her book.

Within the husk: An autumn reflection

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I find something to love in every season, but Autumn requires no searching on my part. It is a feast of color and crisp October air, turkey and steaming cups of hot tea. The occasional gray and rainy afternoons suit my melancholy ways, and I find Autumn and I make sympathetic friends. We understand each other.

I have three children and not one of them shares my love for this season. Perhaps it’s the return to school, the loss of summer freedom, or the cold, foot-stomping wait at the bus stop. They see Autumn as a kind of death, and the school bell as a death knell to all that is right and good in their world…

For the rest of this story, please join me at A Beautiful Mess, a safe space for honesty and inspiration. I’m honored to be writing there today on celebrating the seasons.

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What’s your favorite season and why?

Offerings

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 When the judges at the dance competition asked him his name, he stuttered. Each question they asked brought on another short, halting answer. The judges smiled, they knew he was there to show off what he could do with his feet, not to give a speech, and they said, “Let’s see what you can do.”

 What he could do when the music set his body free, brought tears to the eyes of the panel. One judge said, “I feel like we had the most amazing conversation.” “I use my dance as my language,” was the dancer’s reply.

The judges weren’t the only ones to tear up at his routine. I sat in salty awe on my sofa, watching this young man tell the world what it means to live out loud, to love, to feel a passion burning in his soul—all without using a single word…

To read the rest of the story, join me at Circles of Faith, where faith, life, and community intersect.

 

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Laundry. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Laundry

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I have a day set aside, and on that day everything dirty comes clean. I make piles of smelly, awful things. Ugly things. And I make them clean again. I send out a search party for stains. I wonder exactly what he was doing when the ice cream leapt off the cone and onto his lap. How did she get a pin prick of blood under her left shoulder blade? I wonder and then I Shout them all out.

They are bundled by color, tossed, and tumbled. They come out smelling like baby powder, fresh and clean. The air outside is thick with it. You can catch the scent on the breeze and it smells of home, of mother’s hands at work, of ugly things gone beautiful. All things are made new, and this is not the usual way of the world where dirt seeps in to every work and thought and motive.

It smells of new beginnings, folded and ready for another week.

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Lord knows, I have a lot to say about laundry, and often it sounds more like a complaint. The truth is, I love doing laundry. It makes me exceedingly happy. See above. Grin;)