Thursday, August 13, 2020

How to Start a Creative Community

 

Creative community is water for the artist's well. It is important for artists to stay in a thriving community for support, encouragement, growth, and accountability. In 2016 I entered into my first creative community and it was life-changing. I met people there that were an important part of my artistic journey, some for friendship, some for coaching, some for creating, and some just for love. It was an incredible time of growth. I drove four hours once a month to glean from and sit with these women. It was worth every traffic jam!


It took me three years to start my own creative community, but when the time was right I knew it and I couldn’t reason it away or make excuses why I couldn’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t do it. The moment I knew I was supposed to start a creative community I launched my group. I mean seriously, I created a Facebook event immediately although our first meeting was three months away. It was important to get the word out, hold myself and accountable, and start seeking the Lord for direction.


As soon as I announced it, the Lord was not slow in giving me instructions for the group. My group is called Creative Collective and we meet once a month. Our first order of business was to discuss the Lord’s desire to restore us fully to the creativity He saw in us from the beginning of time. It was a powerful message and gave us a solid foundation. One of our members was ready to give up his art career and get rid of all his stuff before he found our group. I am so grateful he didn’t!


I’d love to share what I’ve learned along the way and encourage you to seek the Lord about starting your own creative community. I had a Zoom meeting today and these are the points we discussed to begin the process of starting your own community:


WHO will you invite?


This is important! Will you invite friends, put it on Facebook and ask people to share, your neighbors, church members? You might already have a sense of who you’d like to include, but don’t limit yourself in any way, be open for the unexpected. I’ve had people blindly message me on Facebook, I’ve met people getting car work done and a host of other ways. 


WHAT kind of group will it be?


The Creative Collective launched as a Christian group because my goal was to encourage believers in their creativity and relationship with God with identity at the heart of it all. I would not turn someone away, but I want them to understand our relationship with God is at the heart of what we do and discuss.


WHEN will you meet?


Decide if you want morning or afternoon, weekday or weekend. I always found it best to have a set day such as the second Tuesday of the month, that way people can plan in advance and block out that time.


WHY are we meeting?


My vision was clear, yours will be personal to your area, your giftings, and your current assignment.


The Creative Collective meets for the purpose of:

Accountability


Supporting and encouraging each other when we hear from the Lord. Being surrounded by people who will not let us walk away easily when the going gets tough and to confess our faults, so that we may be healed.


Arming


Equipping ourselves to do the creative things God has called us to do in an environment where we can give and receive feedback. A place to take hold of the truth of what God says about us and a place to begin practicing who we really are.


Activation


Participating in activities where our spirits are being activated in our calling whether through art, prayer, or teaching.


Applauding


Celebrating ourselves and each other. Many don’t have a safe place or even a group of people for support, we can be this for each other.

WHERE will you meet?


Choose a location! It can be as simple as a coffee shop, your studio, home, church, yard, park, etc. Again, do not limit yourself or God. This is a great time to get creative, don’t give up on a dream of creative community because you don’t have a place to meet. God will provide.


HOW long will you meet?


It is helpful for people to plan if they have a set schedule. When I started I didn’t do this, so we met for three months and then did a book study which had a time limit, which was four months. It gave people an opportunity to commit to the time or not. Sometimes it helps people to say, “I can do this for three months.” Getting people to show up is not your responsibility. Now you can relax and have fun. You do what God shows you and let Him do the rest. If you have a book study you can cut off new members after the first month or so, just to establish a safe and trusting environment for people to share.


Each meeting should have a standard meeting time. I schedule for two hours. It gives us time for one worship song, discussion, and prayer/ministry time.


Reevaluating the group every few months or after a book study is a good idea, get input and listen to what people need and what they are looking to get out of the community. Do not let that be your only deciding factor, as it is important to continually seek the Lord.


HOW many people?


You want to be able to give time and attention to each person, so know yourself. What you can handle depends on your other responsibilities and many other factors. The size of the group is not important. I knew I would have my group each month even if one person showed up.


HOW do we communicate?


I’ve done this two ways. I had one group in my town and we have a private Facebook group where only people who attend can join. Again that is for trust and security. The other group I led was in another town and we had a Facebook messenger group. It was a smaller group and that worked well.


This is not a cookie-cutter process. I share my experience as a guide and not a to-do list. As you take steps in faith toward starting your community God will meet you and exceed your expectations. My prayer is that this is an encouragement for you and gives you a jumping-off point toward your dream of meeting with other creatives on a regular basis to advance creativity in the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Truth Matters


Truth is a building block, without truth I usually can't survive any type of adversity. I've spent years discovering my own truth, but more importantly the truth that God says about me. It has given me fierce confidence and tenacious endurance. It is my weapon against struggles, difficult circumstances, and naysayers. Without the truth, I stumbled around trying to figure out and discern, "What is the truth?" Truth helps me grow and mature into the woman I was created to be, instead of the one I had become because I didn't know the truth.




I've created a simple tool to not only help you hear and receive the truth but to keep it ever before you. Essentially this is a weapon, your sword of the Spirit to fight the fiery darts of the enemy. It's your scrapbook of sorts about who God says you are that you can pull out when you are doubting, struggling or confused.




We all have a deep desire for freedom, God designed us that way. He made provision for our freedom and wants us to walk fully in that revelation. Truth is the best way to be and stay free.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 NIV

I've named this the Truth Badge Book because as I sat one day and created pages of truth statements I could feel myself growing in confidence and faith. As I dialogued with the Lord about it He reminded me that a badge represents identity, our connection, and authority. Wow! I couldn't have said it better myself.

Typically I teach this class in person, but by creating this DIY kit, no one is limited by distance. Anyone, anywhere can purchase it and begin utilizing this valuable tool. All you need is a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a willing heart.



One day as I prepared to teach this class the Lord gave me another revelation about a badge, it gives us access. When I was 18 I worked for a relative of the President. He was a close enough relative that he required four United States Secret Service Agents with him at all times. Our office was on the 15th floor of a high-rise office building in downtown Miami. We had badges to get into our office. Without that badge and an elevator code, no one could get on our floor or in our office before 8:30 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. My badge gave me access. This is another powerful truth about a badge representing our identity. We can get places other people can't!

Currently, I have two Truth Badge Books of my own and I can't tell you how many times I've flipped through the pages to be encouraged all over again about who God says I am and His truth about me. I hope you will take advantage of this valuable resource.

You will receive one Truth Badge Book - A DIY kit you assemble and design at home. Kit includes: 6 cardboard pages 12 pre-cut decorative papers (designs will vary) 2 binder rings 4 pages of truth statements for $25 (shipping included).

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Love Wins...Still

Love Wins! - 24"x24"x1 5/8" mixed media on birch wood panel

Art isn't something I do, it is who I am! It is an overflow of how I'm evolving as a human, how I'm learning, changing, and growing. It often symbolizes deep truths that I convey to the world in word or abstract form. 

This piece is no different!

Love Wins has been forming in my heart for over five years and I believe my heart is finally catching up to the revelation.

I am most proud and humbled to share this piece:


This piece tells a story, a story of broken hearts, lost dreams, hopelessness, and restoration of all things! It's my story of fully submitting myself to the love of Jesus to heal all the broken places and triumph.

He has been whispering "love wins" to me most of my life and I am finally starting to get it. Love always wins! Bad doesn't win, hate doesn't win, abuse doesn't win, only LOVE, because that's the way He planned it.

My earliest revelations of this truth came in the form of art too. You can read about my first glimpse into the fruit this would produce here. Then only two months later I would be gifted a piece of art, untitled at the time, but later called, "Love Wins." 

I've said this before, but I will say it again, "When God really wants you to hear something, you are NOT gonna miss it!" Sometimes we are preoccupied trying to hear Him, but we need not be, His heart is set on us hearing His voice.

So this message, "love wins" is one He really wanted me to hear and it has echoed in my heart for five years, now I share it with the world at a time where we need love to win more than ever. **Spoiler alert**It does, that's how the story ends, love wins.


I have sat with this, I have sketched it, I have conceived it and now birthed it. Welcome to the world "Love Wins!" - we've been waiting for you.

Love Wins is available for purchase, message me for details.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Rewriting the Narrative



There is a running narrative that plays in my mind. It’s the story my psyche has developed over the course of my life. It tells the story of the good, the bad, and the ugly. But sometimes, it tells stories that aren’t redemptive, that aren’t hopeful, that don’t speak love, stories that would keep me believing that I am stuck and nothing will ever change. Sometimes these stories have kept anxiety at bay and given me space to do the hard things in life, but that doesn’t sound like a story I want to tell. In hearing these narratives for almost half a century now, I have changed the way I listen, so I can hear Him, the author and finisher of my faith. Listening to Him, I can rewrite the story with truth.

The definition of rewrite is essentially to write it again, with a better ending. God has been rewriting the narrative of my life, so I’m going hand over the pen.


He says the story isn’t over
He says I’m not stuck
He says it’s all for His glory
He says I have a purpose
He says I am His
He says I am redeemed
He says I am forgiven


And you know what? His story is better.

It’s a story of Love that pursued through abuse, struggle, and pain. It’s a story that gives choices even in the worst of circumstances. It’s a story that trumps darkness and brings light. It’s a story of hope and redemption. It’s a story that says all is never lost, only rerouted.

In the middle of the mess, the Author whispers, “I’m right here and I will never leave you alone. You are mine and I have inscribed you on the palm of my hand.” And with faith even the size of a mustard seed, I say, “I believe you and I want Your story to be told through my life, even if it means rewriting the narrative.”

And though your beginning was small, 
your latter days will be very great. Job 8:7

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Love Isn't Always a 1st Corinthians Kind of Thing

Tomorrow is the most and anticipated and dreaded day for many, you know the day we celebrate "love?" But not everyone is anticipating flowers and candy. Some are anticipating painful reminders of loss, rejection, grief and it will be a hard day. I've been there!

I've always loved this "love" day even though it hasn't always been great and I love "loving" on others, so I've created a printable to make it easy for you to share some "love" tomorrow. Do you know someone who is hurting? Lonely? Depressed? Pray and ask the Lord which one of these sentiments they need to hear. Print out the following printable on regular paper or cardstock and cut them out and share with anyone who needs a little extra TLC tomorrow. You could put them on someone's car, desk, mirror or leave them in the bathroom at work. I'm trusting your discernment and creativity, but would you come back and share how these blessed someone.

It might be you, you might need the reminders and that's okay. This is my gift to you. These are things we all need to hear, so sit with them for a while and take them in as love letters written just to you.

(Click to print)

No matter where you find yourself this Valentine's Day, you are:
  • seen
  • loved
  • His
  • adored
  • cherished
  • held
Don't take my word for it:
...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Well Placed Question



Well worn and used journals can be a reference library of sorts as I navigate life's ups and downs. Researching my own experiences to find God, His answers, His movement, and His faithfulness. This week I fanned through the pages of one of my many journals and found an entry from January 9th, 2020:

I find myself reminding myself that light shines in broken vessels to keep myself hoping, believing and putting one foot in front of the other. How does my continued brokenness bring You Glory?

That last line, the question, inquiring of the Lord how my seeming perpetual mess brings Him any kind of Glory. It was an honest asking and wanting to know and understand. Wanting to know that I am still going the right way. 

Although most days I’m confident of His love and my position in Him, there are days, like January 9th, that I struggle and wonder, how is my life making a difference in the Kingdom? How will anyone see you in this mess?

The answer came in the middle of the night, last night, as I awoke with terrible anxiety, my body locked up in pain. 

The whisper, “My Light still shines through those cracks.”

Just like that, my Daddy spoke to my heart to settle me. The anxiety didn’t go away and my body is still tight, but my heart is resting in Him.

I have this beautiful picture of a shattered pot with cracks everywhere and the sun hitting it just right that I see varying rays of sunlight shining through. That’s my life! As long as I am still putting myself out there allowing others to see the cracks, the brokenness, His light is shining through and that is where He is glorified.

He still shows up in broken places.

He still places His light in cracked pots.

And He is still making necessary repairs to make that pot whole again.

Do you journal? What kind of journal and I don’t mean spiral bound or hardbound? I mean is it a prayer journal, a question journal or an art journal? Is it a form of communication with the Father or yourself? I’m curious. As I look around my house and studio and see probably 100 journals all started with some form of communication - a gratitude list, a prayer, a sketch, scribble, etc. all to communicate my heart to the Father and understand His a little more.

My hope is that this will encourage you in your process, your state of brokenness, that He still sees you and shines through. I think through all of this He is encouraging me to let others see the light even in the various states of disrepair.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Emotions Aren't the Enemy



I’ve tried a million ways to avoid, stuff or numb emotions. They always felt like too much, made me feel like I was too much. When I made emotions the enemy they had power and over time became overwhelming. Maturity has taught me emotions aren’t the enemy, it’s what I do with them or my response to them.

My life has been filled with trauma, which gave me a heightened sense of emotion about a lot of things and made it difficult for me to be rational in many situations. It actually made me afraid of emotions, especially my own. That was never God's design. He gave me emotions to work for me, not against me. They are tools, not weapons.
God has put a specific fruit of the spirit
next to every negative circumstance in your life.- Graham Cooke
I’ve spent years growing and maturing as a daughter, wife, mother and woman and I’m learning that I am in control of my emotions, not the other way around. Even when things feel scary or overwhelming, there is always a “but” - I am feeling (fill in the blank), but I can make good decisions.

I don’t have to agree or like all aspects of myself, I just need to acknowledge them and part of that is recognizing emotions. I don’t have to accept them.

Self-awareness leads to dealing with things I've stuffed and moved me toward healing. It’s just about acknowledging what I’m experiencing.

When I let this practice of self-acceptance go (recognizing and acknowledging my true feelings) I tend to spiral into a vortex of self-practices…

Self-hatred
Self-avoidance
Self-deprecation

It’s not loving! To avoid my emotions is not practicing self-love. It’s key in the greatest of commandments.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
As I sat with these thoughts I made an interesting but not startling discovery, it starts with self-care. If I am not taking care of myself, I cannot be present with my emotions, I don’t have the strength, mentally or physically. Turns out my biggest struggle with self-care is self-avoidance.

As a young girl, I had an eating disorder and it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I ever voiced my struggle out loud to another human being. It was freeing. By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I no longer struggled with eating and by 40 I was free. Then life happened and patterns began to resurface and because I was neglecting myself by not practicing self-care it quickly got out of control. I don’t have an eating disorder again, but rather use food to comfort myself when I’m being mistreated, ouch! That is not loving either.

If I would take the time for myself on the front end I’d gain stamina to sit with my uncomfortable emotions and rationalize the truth. The truth of the emotion, the situation and myself.

When I’m taking care of myself and by that, I don’t mean eating chocolate cake, I have peace in my mind and body and am able to come to rational thoughts and decisions easier and quicker. My emotions are in check, I’m confident to face emotions, good, bad or indifferent and process through to a wise choice for myself.

This way of living gives me the tools I need for total self-acceptance and again that doesn’t mean I am accepting that things are the way they are or that they will stay that way. It simply means I’m present in the moment to acknowledge emotions without making irrational decisions. I no longer have to punish myself. It’s a new kind of freedom.

This new practice allows me to:

Let go of expectations
Bury dead dreams (grieve and let go)
Be kinder to me
Have more patience
Practice self-care
THRIVE

This revelation didn’t happen overnight and it has been work to get to these conclusions and I’m still on the journey toward further self-discovery and acceptance, but these are foundational concepts for continued growth.

Self-care has become a buzz word, everybody is talking about it. We see it in magazine articles, advertisements, and blog posts. For me every time I saw it I felt worse about myself because I still couldn’t achieve it. Turns out, I was just missing one of the most important parts of self-care, self-acknowledgment. I have to acknowledge I even exist or have needs and emotions before I ever do anything to care for myself.

If your struggling today with “self-care” please know you are not alone. Spend some time in prayer for yourself and ask the Lord what He wants to show you on your journey to living the greatest commandment. It starts with self! We can’t love others if we don’t first love ourselves.
“I don't trust people who don't love themselves and tell me, 'I love you.' ... There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” - Maya Angelou