How to Nurture Creativity When You Don't Have Time

Are you frustrated creatively? Do you find yourself in a season where it's hard to get beyond what must get done for each day?

Instead of finding yourself frustrated, I hope to encourage you to not give up. I want to share three strategies to keep the creative fire alive—even when you don’t have time to create yourself.

Join me over at For the Family to find out more.

Be a Beauty Builder

Every day at 4 p.m. he carries out a plastic folding chair and his cello case. Most days he plays Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor.  He does it in defiance. He does it in memoriam. He does it, despite the shells that still whiz in the air and crash into buildings all around, almost drowning out his song. Every day, for 22 days, Vedran Smajlović plays his cello on the site of an explosive blast in that left 22 civilians dead.

The story captured imaginations worldwide. It captures mine.

Now, known as the “Cellist of Sarajevo,” Vedran Smajlović reminds me how beauty in the midst of death, destruction, and chaos can inspire, protest, and be a light against darkness.

As someone who has pursued a life in the arts, my life can feel quiet and small sometimes. But I have come to see myself as a beauty builder. And I’ve also come to learn that is no small thing.

Join me over at For the Family as I explore what it means to be a beauty builder.

5 Devotional Tools for Busy Moms

I creep down the stairs, careful to step over the squeaky step. It’s 6 a.m. and I head straight for the coffee pot. I choose my favorite green flowered mug from the cupboard and pour a fragrant cup of coffee. With any luck I’ll get a chance to sit down and enjoy my coffee in a quiet house while the kids still sleep. I love a little time just to myself to read scripture, journal, or read a book I’m in the midst of before the rush of the day begins. I reach for the sugar bowl and freeze.

A cry breaks the silent morning. My toddler is up.

It seems like no matter what time I choose, my little one makes that her time to rise as well. The time may even vary day to day, but it seems like she can sense the fact I opened my eyes and can’t wait to join her mama as the new day begins.

It’s morning like these—that happen more often than not—that I need an easy way to spend time with God. I usually spend time with him while my baby munches Cheerios or flips through board books by my side. For now, gone are the days of more extensive study. Sometimes I need an app on my phone to read scripture while holding a child who does not yet want to be put down. Or listen to an audio devotional while fixing breakfast. Or to read from a prayer book because I don’t have the quiet enough to form my own thoughts.

Today I'm sharing 5 favorite devotional tools for busy moms over at For the Family.

And don't forget to share some of your favorites too! 

When You Need A Refuge: A Playlist

It was a particularly bad day. Tempers flared. Tears spilled. Angry words were spoken.

It was on that day I decided I needed a refuge: a musical one. I created a playlist that would speak God’s beauty and truth to my heart on days that spin in turmoil. A calm space to hide, if only on the inside, in the midst of life’s upheaval.

I'm over today at For the Family sharing a playlist of songs for when you need a refuge.

Sing a New Song: Music for the Whole Family

We all jam ourselves into the car and buckle up. Windows down, I search for my keys while my daughter inevitably demands:

“Put the Jesus song on!”

I have to admit that I’m just a bit tired of it. After all, I have been listening to it for five plus years. But my daughter never gets tired of it.

“Again!” she often pleas. We have to put a limit on how many times it will repeat.

“After three times your brothers get to pick a song they want to listen to,” I’ll remind her.

But hey, at least she’s begging for a song about Jesus, right?

So what is this Jesus song that is in such high demand by my five year old?

Continue reading over at For the Family . . . 

Earning Enough Grace, Part 2

TheFellowship We are continuing our conversation about spiritual abuse with Sara Roberts Jones. Click here to read Part One.

 

What do you most want readers to come away with after finishing your book?

I wrote for two audiences:

  1. Those who went through an authoritarian Christian system. I wanted to validate what we went through, to show why we feel torn up and broken even though it’s hard for others to see it.
  2. Those who just see the shiny outside and don’t understand what it’s like to live in a highly restrictive, demanding system like this. They shake their heads when survivors are angry, reactive, and often leave the faith altogether. Outsiders shake their heads and say, “They shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Just take the good and leave the bad!” I hope my novel shows what is going on under the surface.

I did not write it for people still caught in the system. Even if they want to “get out,” my book will just put them on the defensive. The humor is too snarky and I focus heavily on women’s empowerment (which the patriarchal world considers a major threat to their system). While I tried to write each character sympathetically, I am not at all sympathetic to a Christian authoritarian/patriarchal worldview and didn’t pull my punches.

I love how you ended your novel with hope and recovery but it was not a tidy ending. All wrongs were not righted. Do you have any resources or suggestions for other people who may have experienced spiritual abuse themselves?

Find a good counselor—someone who understands spiritual abuse. My counselor was a Christian, but someone who understood not to say to me, “You should get into God’s Word and seek Him!” or “Follow these steps to recovery.” It was very healing to be able to talk to someone who was trained to listen, and who never took my words as evidence that I was sinning.

I share a list of books that have helped those struggling with spiritual abuse over on my blog. It can be found here.

What have you learned about God's love and grace that you didn't know when you were part of ATI?

Grace is not some “power to obey” that God hands out to people who are good enough. Grace is God himself—covering our sins, healing us, carrying us when we’re too tired to go on. It’s what kept me from walking away from him altogether. It’s a major theme of my novel: Grace means you don’t have to be good enough.

What are some of your favorite novels, or what are you reading currently?

I confess I haven’t read much at all during the three years it took me to write and publish this novel.

My husband recommended I read Wearing God by Lauren Winner. I’m going through it very, very slowly. She’s not my style at all, plus it’s basically a devotional book which I’m allergic to. But I gave myself permission to read it in small portions, and skim when I think she gets too wordy. It discusses less-noticed ways the Bible describes God—I’m reading about “God as clothing” right now. A refreshingly different approach to knowing God.

When I do read for fun, I’m a big Young Adult fan. I enjoy Diana Wynn Jones, Patricia Wrede, and Mary Hoffman (her “Stravaganza” series).

This blog post lists some of the books that directly influenced The Fellowship.

I’m always glad to pick up Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse, Dave Barry, and Patrick McManus.

P8Where can we find you online?

SaraRobertsJones.com

I’ve got several articles on RecoveringGrace.org.

I blog for Home School Legal Defense Association.

On Facebook, Sara Roberts Jones Author.

And you can purchase The Fellowship on Amazon.

Learning to Love Like Jesus

 

As Holy Week begins I've done a lot of thinking about how Jesus showed radical love to his disciples during his final hours. How he symbolized the soul-cleaning he was about to accomplish on the cross. And yet he was incredibly practical too, shocking his friends by doing a slavish and unclean task. He was teaching them--and me--how to love.

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Jesus does the unthinkable.

He picks up a towel, ties it around his waist, and pours water into a basin. Then, he approaches his friends.

He takes their stinky, dirt-encrusted, calloused feet in his own hands—hands that within hours would show their love again by having Roman nails driven into them—and washes those feet clean. He wipes away the grime and makes them spotless, symbolizing what the cross will soon accomplish not just for their bodies, but their very souls.

To appreciate Peter’s shock and horror at this scenario, we must realize this foot washing was the task of a slave. Not just any slave, but it was typically reserved for Gentile slaves. Someone the Jews would have seen as being fundamentally and ceremonial unclean. And Jesus takes on this unclean role to show us how we are to love each other. We are to serve each other as Christ demonstrated by reaching down and bathing dusty dirty feet in clean water. It is a metaphor for how we are to live out Christ-love.

Join me over at For the Family to finish reading . . . 

Hibernation for the Soul

The ground is so cold. The stiff blades of grass sheathed in ice crunch hard underfoot. Even the once squishy mud is frozen solid. The wind claws my cheeks. The sun shines coldly, making the trees cast stark shadows on the ground. It is eerily quiet. The chattering birds, rustling squirrels, and nibbling rabbits have hidden themselves against the chill. The flowers are dormant, tucked into their beds of frozen earth, alive but not actively growing.

It is as if everything were in a deep sleep, hibernating.

It is the bleak midwinter, when spring feels like a far off dream.

Sometimes it feels like my soul is in hibernation mode too. Alive, but not growing. Frozen in the dark. Unseen, buried underground.

Join me over at Ungrind today to finish reading?

 

Roots & Sky {A Giveaway}

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IMG_4051

I excitedly untied the twine that held the book and beautifully photographed thank you note together. My friend Christie Purifoy’s book, Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons had finally arrived.

I first discovered Christie Purifoy’s writing when we were both contributors to Pick Your Portion. From there I discovered her blog and started following her Instagram feed. It was from Instagram I discovered that she actually lived a mere hour away from me.

One Friday night over a year ago I drove to Christie’s beloved Maplehurst farmhouse for pizza and conversation.

Now, you can experience Maplehurst’s hospitality too, through Christie’s beautiful new book, Roots & Sky.

Christie writes about the meaning of home as she recounts her first year at Maplehurst. And Maplehurst becomes not just a tangible real experience of putting down roots but also a metaphor of what it means to find our home in Christ. As the seasons change, a baby is born, depression is lived through, gardens are planted, and Advent morphs through Lent and to Easter, Christie shares her journey with us. It is a story of discovery and spiritual growth. Her writing is lyrical, meditative, and saturated with biblical imagery that is natural and fresh.

“Our lives are stories built of small moments,” Christie writes early on in her book. “Ordinary experiences. It is too easy to forget that our days are adding up to something astonishing. We do not often stop to notice the signs and wonders. The writing on the wall.

But some days we do.”

And this is really what Roots & Sky is all about. Stopping to notice the signs and wonders of ordinary life. The extravagance of each season. The parables of life and death God gives us in creation all around us.

“I am convinced the world is saturated with meaning. We trample messages like scattered leaves beneath our feet. If only we have eyes to see them. Ears to hear them.”

Receive
Receive

Right now I’m straining my eyes and ears for messages of new life. Of spring. Which is ironic because as I write this, a snowstorm swirls outside the window. But the calendar whispers that it will soon be spring. The hold of winter will soon wane. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, after all. Tomorrow is the count down to resurrection begins.

Christie reminds me that though Christ prepares a home for me in Heaven, he also makes his home with me on earth. That he “once wrapped himself in dust. He is our God with dirt under his nails, and he is near. God with us.”

As Lent begins I am reminded of God’s nearness. That God is in the midst building his kingdom—his home—not just in Heaven, but right here and right now. And that I can rest in that knowledge. Lent does not signify striving and sacrifice and deprivation on my part. The sacrifice has already been accomplished.

“I believe the words ‘it is finished’ are so big that they hold every one of our days, even those we have not yet lived. It is finished, even when all feels unfinished. Death is defeated. We have been forgiven our terrible rejection, and we can live every moment in the knowledge that there is nothing left for us to do. Only everything for us to receive.

For he has done it.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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To read more from Christie check out my Inspire: Women Who Create interview from last year.

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Christie Purifoy
Christie Purifoy

Christie Purifoy lives with her husband and four children at Maplehurst, an old, brick farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago and, a few years later, traded the classroom for a picket-fenced garden and an old writing desk. She writes regularly at www.christiepurifoy.com and you can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

*Giveaway is for U.S. residents only.

Resources for Remembering

I cut dogwood limbs from the tree in the front yard. Knobby grey buds are still tight, not yet ready to open. Pulling my earthenware pitcher down from the shelf, I place it on the table. The dogwood limbs go into the jug, along with some water.

The branches are now ready to be transformed into our Resurrection Tree. We’re getting ready for Easter by keeping Lent.

Traditionally, the purpose of Lent is to prepare one’s heart for the celebration of the Resurrection through prayer, repentance, fasting, and other forms of self-denial. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter morning. It is usually forty days long, representing the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness before starting his public ministry.

As my children have grown I’ve looked for ways to involve them in celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection in tangible, hands-on ways. Ways that build up to Easter morning, so that they have a clear idea as to why we celebrate. The following are some activities we’ve done as a family to prepare for the celebration of resurrection morning as well as some resources just for you. I hope they will be inspiring to you, if you are looking to create new traditions of your own.

To discover the Lenten resources I discuss, click over to For the Family.