Sunday, April 11, 2010

Creativity Calls

Creativity calls forth something deep inside of us. It longs for us to go deeper, to connect, and then to express.

I often struggle with the desire to be creative in the natural. I see someone paint and I want to paint, I watch cooking shows and I want to cook like they do with such appreciation and enjoyment. I look at pottery and I want to sit at a potter’s wheel. Photography, music, cards, books all can produce the same appreciation and desire in me. Yet, I find it difficult to move into the place of producing any of these things, finding my voice, and vision and way of communicating something creative.

What I realize is that painting is attractive to me because of the gentleness of the strokes, and the variety of colors that can be used to create one of a kind pictures. I tend to like black and white and have been on a journey for quite some time exploring the world of color. Black and white are very safe, very strict, with distinct lines. Color brings about feeling.

After winter and all the gray, lifelessness, and lack of color… doesn’t spring and the first signs of color bring forth a sense of joy, life and hope? Red is intense in its language. Pink is gentle and alluring. Yellow brings a sense of sunshine and joyfulness. Rich and royal is purple in its expression. Gentle blue skies bring a sense of rest, relaxation and beckon us to come out and have fun. God is the greatest painter of all, as seen in vivid sun rises and sunsets against the backdrop of rocky or snow capped mountains, above roaring oceans and sandy beaches or serene, glassy lakes. Any painter is but an imitator of the original and what a compliment that is to Him.

There is a growing movement of creativity in the body of Christ. One of the areas, being released more and more in certain streams is prophetic painting. People come to places of worship, equipped with tools of creative expression and as they worship they begin to express through color, and multi-media, things they sense or see in their hearts. Many that cannot express in a verbal way their love for God, or what they see or inspires them, they do by way of painting. They also capture unique ways God wants to communicate to us. Much in the way a musician strums a guitar, picks out a new melody on the piano as it runs through their mind, or a drummer beats new rhythms as he feels it out as it makes sense to him. I love this and believe it holds a special place in God’s heart.

When I am drawn to pottery, it is because of the vessels that have been formed for a particular use or just for the enjoyment or the creativity of the individual who would use the vessel. A cup could be for drinking or to hold pens, a pitcher either for juice or to hold an arrangement of flowers. The process of clay being molded and shaped into something useful or creative is very inspiring to me, which for me, comes from the place of knowing what the Word says about this concept being connected to us as individuals.

  • “And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” Is 64:8
  • ‘Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. O House of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jer 18:3-6

When I am drawn to the cooking, it is the concept (as I do not really like to cook) of taking often similar ingredients, used in a multitude of different ways, adding spices, a variety of cooking methods and temperatures, then making them into savory dishes that will be enjoyed by others. Food often adds to fun and fellowship, is sometimes given to comfort others during times of difficulty or suffering, mostly used to just plain meet the need of being hungry, and unfortunately abused in allowing it to be too much of a priority and using it to “fill” empty places in our hearts. Yet again, there is a new level in this generation of creativity in going beyond just the practical need of eating, but bringing in color, spice, variety and fun.

When I am drawn to books, it is the stories and lessons learned or taught by others. The lives they have lived and the emotions they evoke in me, cause me to think and live beyond myself. Books have truly changed my life. They give me time to stop, sit back, think through and examine things from different perspectives. Books allow me to be an interested, intense observer rather than a casual passer by…like when I view a movie. And hopefully if there are worthwhile, godly, spiritual principles communicated, I have the opportunity to grow up in them and make them my own. Books reveal the beauty of the inner life of others…if they are “choice” material, and not the cheap, quick, money earning options of the modern day…which reveal an inner life too, but one not quite so beautiful.

When I am drawn to journals, paper and pens, it’s the thought and passion of the deep, inner places that can be explored and expressed across blank pages. Those empty pages becoming something new, never expressed, bringing clarity and giving sight as the words work their way across the page. Capturing moments of the heart, what would have been fleeting thoughts, but now because they are written down, demand to be given more attention, a closer look, a deeper pondering. Now what would have been for one person, something skipped past becomes for them something so much more, something expanded, expressed, pursued, embraced, enjoyed, explored and can now be given to others for some of the same experience. And it also gives opportunities for others to add their perspective and when that piece is added, it becomes even more. It can now take on different and broader hues as it is seen from other viewpoints. What was nothing but a brief thought, because of the act of writing it down, allows it to become more…more fulfilling, more influential, just plain more. Even if others never see the things written down, it lends itself to getting things out of our hearts, and gives us a path to look back on. It becomes a journey of our hearts to learn from and to remember.

A painting begins with a thought, a desire, a stroke of the brush

A vessel begins with a thought, a desire, a lump of clay
A meal begins with a thought, a desire, a variety of ingredients

A book begins with a thought, a desire, a story or truth to tell

A journal begins with a thought, a desire, a memory to keep or a thought to process out.

There is always a beginning, a desire, a process that leads to expression. Expression is ultimately the result of creativity, so what is expressed and how it is expressed is extremely important. Expression comes for the interior place, “out of the heart, the mouth speaks”… the painter paints, the potter forms, the musician composes, the writer writes, the preacher preaches. Therefore, the interior place is what matters most. It should be the most beautiful and honest place, so all that comes forth from there, will be beauty and truth that others may enjoy, grow from and be inspired by.

I believe “the arts of creativity” are some of the many tangible ways God uses to help us get to the core, the things that matter most, really feeling and living life, and helping us to truly know ourselves. Making something out of nothing and/or using what is available to produce something new, can give us great joy and such a wonderful sense of accomplishment in the fact that “I made that” and “it is good”. At times creating is for the pure pleasure of it and at other times creating comes from the need to express or give something to others as a way of blessing or connecting. This is especially effective because of the gentle nurturing of the soul that it brings, which encourages life and healing, and the enjoyment of being like our Creator God.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why Are You So Wonderful?

You create the hunger, I hunger

You give me food, I eat

You give me breath, I breathe,

You give me Life, I live

You speak Truth, I receive

You shine the Light, I see

You open a path, I walk in it

I cry, You comfort me,

I get hurt, You bind my wounds

I get lost, You never lose sight of me

I stumble, You help me up

I get discouraged, You encourage

I condemn, You accept

I sin, You forgive

I blame, You defend

I get distracted, You remain focused

I struggle, You cheer me on

I have nothing, You have and are everything—You give it all

Why are you so wonderful?

Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Today is the fourth of July and I sit in my basement all alone waiting for my family to return from Tallahassee. So many changes have happened in our lives over this last season, some of our own choosing and some that were not our choice. There are places in my heart that I have just continued to sit and wait, ponder, obsess, fret and be concerned over. I have wanted to move forward but have not been able to for many reasons. I have desired more clarity and wanting to know what I was reaching for or moving towards. I have wanted to make sure my heart was clear.

But today I sit before the Lord and I find myself saying to Him…I pledge my allegiance to Jesus! You are my Truth, You are my Way, You are my Life. I commit my heart and all my loyalty to You. You are my First Love, my First Love, my First Love. I declare today independence from the ways of men, worldly wisdom and systems. I separate myself from my way, my desires, and my soul’s preferences. I commit my heart, my hands, and my life to you only Lord. I will go where you want me to go; I will be all that you want me to be. I choose to see the truth for what it is and look it fully in the face. I will not run in fear, or compromise because it’s easier. I will believe what you speak, agree with what you say, and align my heart, actions, focus and words to live according to those things.

I will not be so foolish as to have begun in the Spirit, and now be made perfect in the flesh. Have I suffered so many things in vain-----if indeed it was in vain? He who supplies the Spirit to me and works miracles, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, I believe God so that it will be accounted to me for righteousness. (Gal 3:3-6)

If I do not come out of this season with stronger convictions, knowing what I value and why, then I will have suffered in vain. In the suffering do I now lay down the things I hold dear…do I lay them down because by holding to them I have lost a great many things that were also precious to me. Or will I hold on to the gold and silver that have been refined in the fire and not grieve over the wood, hay and stubble that has been burned up.

What do I hold dear? Loyalty, Honesty, Servant Leadership, Humility, Laying Your Life Down For a Friend, Compassion, True Spiritual Authority, and Intimacy with God and with Covenant Friends, Fighting for the Good of the Whole, not just self…God’s Way.

What do I despise? Betrayal, Dishonesty, Pride, Control, Self-Preservation, Mammon, Vying for Position, Illegitimate Authority, Insecurity, Selfishness, Compromise, People Pleasing…Man’s Way.

Our founding fathers gave of their lives, families, and fortunes to fight for a dream and a freedom that they believed in. Because of their personal sacrifice we have lived a life they never experienced in the natural, yet they knew it in their hearts and because of that, they were able to sacrifice for it to become a reality.

I have a dream that is in my heart. A dream that I thought died, yet if a dream is real and from the heart of God it never truly dies. It might have to be planted in the ground and “appear dead”.

John 12:24-25

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. (from THE MESSAGE).

Reckless in our love, the dream was tested; our conviction and principles were tested. Although things did not turn out the way I thought they would, and the temptation to give up, throw in the towel and to yield to the voices that have risen against my dream and have fought to silence it, have been a constant companion. Yet, here I sit today all alone, with something still beating in my heart. Faintly it beats, distant is its voice, and quiet is its whisper. “Do not lose hope”, it says. “Don’t faint and be weary in well doing. Keep, the faith. I am not dead, I have been silenced but for a time. Soon I will rise and shine forth like the sun. Soon life will be breathed into me and strength will come forth. Soon, the heartbeat will be louder and stronger. Soon it will not be so distant and faint. Soon you will hear the roar, the thunder, the cry. Soon the dream will come forth and be birthed in the earth. Soon, Soon , Soon.”

So today I declare I still believe in the “unseen dream”. I do not give up hope, for that is my name. How can I give up who I am? I am Hope and I have hope because of Him in who I have believed, and that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him. I declare my independence from man, my flesh and this world, and declare my DEPENDENCE ON HIM. I have a dream, it’s a beautiful dream, a dream God gave me. I believe in that dream. No one else has to. He and I have dreamed together, He has partnered with me and I with Him. And from that place I will move forward and step into all that is in my heart to do.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Eye of the Master Craftsman

I wrote this prayer the other day knowing that as parents Chip and I can tend to see all the things that our children are not, all the manners they don’t have, and all the character that still needs to be formed. Yet I believe the heart cry and the desire of most Christian parents is similar to the prayer I prayed for us. This is our battle. This is the area of our greatest need and desire for our children. May the Lord answer this prayer for all of us.

The Eye of the Master Craftsman

We want spiritual children not religious children! Lord, teach us Your ways. You have made us spiritual, not religious. Help us to recognize, remember, and think on all the ways that You have taught us, led us, disciplined, encouraged, and corrected us. Help us to see from Your perspective... how You have produced in us, what You have produced. As we see, may we then be like You and walk in Your ways, that our children will grow up to be trees of righteousness with deep spiritual roots.

You are the master craftsman, seeing the vessel before its fully formed and pulling it out from the midst of all that surrounds it, breaking the outer portions yet keeping intact the precious gem, shaving off the rough edges to create a beautiful, usable piece, removing the excess clay then molding and pressing it to bring forth the desirable shape.

You also know and are so wise in placing the vessel where it is tested so it may be proven or refired depending on the results. You also know the design and its perfect placement so it will be shown off the best and feel the sense of fulfillment that it is exactly where it should be, being utilized and appreciated for its part.

May we have that eye for our children, that we can break off what is keeping the gem from shining forth, that we will be confident to be the sandpaper to go against the grain of what they think , want or what the world tells them they are designed for. May we press strongly always with an eye for who they really are, molding them in that way. May we not grow weary or fainthearted. May we never fail to start the design or be fearful to touch because they push against it or don’t desire it, or because we didn’t look to see!

Oh Lord, let us see with Your eyes the bigger picture for our children. Help us see the gems that they are and not be focused in a wrongful, discouraging way on the rough edges. Remove the cataract and hardness from our eyes.

Help us to know their strengths and bents that we may pour Your word, Your Spirit, Your ways into those areas that they would not be vessels of pride but vessels fit for the Master’s use.

Help us Lord to train these beautiful, young stallions. May they run with grace and dignity, beauty and strength, submitted to The Master so that those who see them all the days of their life will be glad and rejoice in who they are and never be sad, hurt or broken by them.

Help us to help them be gifts to this world and all who know them. May they bring delight to Your heart. Give us the grace for generational/spiritual transfer I pray. That we would follow You and our children would follow you. Let us never be like Eli who served You but his son’s were wicked and perverted and turned the hearts of people away from You. Likewise, David sought after You but many of his sons turned away or never knew You.

We could have the same with our children. We are weak in many ways. Lord, have mercy on us and our children. Strengthen us to teach them, show them and require from them to walk in Your ways, yield to Your heart and will, and not follow the dictates of their own heart. As stewards of them while on this earth, may we one day stand before You with them by our side knowing that we were faithful to do our part in helping them to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and men.----Amen

Friday, March 7, 2008

My Father's Heart

On February 29, 2008 my father turned 80 years old. As my family gathered together to celebrate this momentous occasion we had no idea what was in store. Just as every family on earth has its triumphs and tragedies, connections and separations, love and hate of relational dynamics and certain family characteristics, ours is no different. You never know what might happen when you come together; so sometimes before you get there you kind of prepare yourself for “certain family dynamics”. Well, we had the typical time of eating, blowing out of candles and conversations going on in all corners of the room.

Time was taken to read historical moments about political things, highlight clothing styles, and famous actors from over the last 80 years. We then asked my dad of memories he had from way back and had the opportunity to listen to many of the things that my father had seen, experienced or lived through in his 80 years. He talked about many of the natural things like having no refrigerator, (only a hole in the ground when he was a little boy), working in the fields when he was four and five years old, and many other things like that. When asked about what he feels has changed the most he said, “the morality of the world.” When he was growing up those that were unsaved were more moral than most Christians are now. His heart is very sad and grieved about that.

That is just one of the reasons I love my father; because for him out of all things, that stood out the most.

We then all moved to another room, children, grandchildren, friends and extended family members. He had been asked to pray and bless us. Now my father is a tall, yet gentle and quiet man. He does not like to be the center of attention and really did not want this gathering for him, as he did not want to put anyone out just for the sake of celebrating him, as he is not really a big group party man. But we did anyway because it was important to us for him to know he is thought of and loved. He would prefer to listen and not speak, but we asked him to share, because we believe what he has to say should be heard, received and honored. We all gathered and sat waiting for the few words we expected to come forth from his mouth. As he began to share there was literally a supernatural hush and an immediate stillness. The littlest child was quiet and the most active and squirmy sat completely still, as though mesmerized. We figured later it was because they were in shock as they had never heard Poppy say that much. J

He began with a testimony of what God had been doing in his life through a particular prophetic ministry word given by Graham Cooke. He then began to share through tears that it all comes down to how much the Lord loves us; that we must know and experience His love. From there, he went on to give us this word of the Lord that has changed him so much as a generational inheritance. He asked that we each would read through it with our families once a month or a year, whatever way that we would be led so as to reap the full benefits of what God has for each of our families. Then hands were laid upon each of the grandchildren that were there with blessings for them and for those that were not able to come. He then prayed an overall blessing for all of us. Mixed in with many of those moments were times that he repented or asked our forgiveness for areas that he may have failed us as a father.

I sat back amazed at all that was taking place. I am the 7th of 8 children and after their 4th child, my father and mother got saved and became church planters. They were in the ministry for many years, but then some family difficulty struck and that season came to an end. It seemed from that point on as though the wind was knocked out of my parents. I have vague memories of my father as a pastor as I was 8 when they stepped out of the ministry. Now as I sat listening to my father stand before us all, all I could see was the old mantle being restored, the strength of the teacher and heart of a minister flowing out of him, along with the new realization of God’s love for him as a son that he has never had. My siblings and I agreed later that we have not seen dad like that in over 30 years. It was supernatural.

I share all of these things mainly to honor my two fathers. First of all, I thank my Heavenly Father for loving and pushing into my earthly father’s life so intensely at this time to reveal His love to him. Because of THE FATHER’S LOVE, my dad is truly coming to LIFE.

Secondly, I would like to honor my earthly father in the fact that although there is not much in the way of natural inheritance to be passed on to our generation, he has passed on treasures that neither moth nor rust can destroy and thieves cannot steal. Although so little has been given to him in his life in any area, he has remained faithful to God. He has given us an incredible spiritual inheritance. I would take that over any amount of money, houses, or any earthly items. I am blessed and a very wealthy woman, for the Lord has given me riches upon riches within my natural family, a father who loves and fear God.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Places Where I Have Died and Yet I Still Live

I climbed a dangerous mountain called covenant and found when I got to the top the battles I had fought to get there and the convictions formed as I pushed my way upward were quite different than those of others I met along the way.

I died on that mountain.

It sent me down to the valley of great loss. I lived in that valley for a very long time, bearing heavy burdens, weeping great rivers of tears, carrying great shame and reproach. Much anger arose in my soul, great opportunity to accuse, question, blame others and myself. The greatest despair was to be found in knowing that God led me this way and in order to truly live out my convictions they had to be tested and proven. The pain with which it pleased Him to grieve me was that of authenticating my convictions and my love for Him above all else.

I died in that valley.

I climbed another mountain called hope it was a twin of the first peak I climbed. In fact I would fly from one to the other at times. This mountain had great promise of provision, breakthrough, dreams coming to pass, prophecies coming to fruition. None turned out the way I envisioned, expected or believed for.

I died on that mountain.

It collapsed beneath my feet and plunged me into a wilderness of depression. In that wilderness I could do nothing but cry, I could not provide anything for myself as every little task became a mountain to me. That is where I met ravens who came and fed me, nurtured me, wept with me and prayed….they were from the very heart of God and sustained my weary soul.

I died in that wilderness.

I finally got up from there and traveled to the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane, the place that caused me to know the aloneness of the soul from all other humans and the absolute sacrifice of my will to His. No one could go there with me, it was my place to go alone, to wrestle my flesh, the Lord and the devil. It was not pretty, definitely not easy, and not something I took lightly. The more I suffered the closer He came for He understood, He’d been there before.

I died in that Garden.

Unbeknownst to me, the next step was the cross. The place where my crown was that of thorns—all hell against my mind, the nails in my hands and feet, held me in a place where I could do nothing, and go nowhere. There I was for the entire world to see helpless, hopeless, dieing, and bleeding. Thieves, religious mindsets, friends, devils all seemingly opposing, accusing, misunderstanding all exacting the blows that would finish my cross. I found that in my nothingness, inability, nakedness and helplessness He became my all, my ability, my covering and my help. He found me beautiful in that place in only a way He can.

I died on that cross.

That death sent me to the pit of hell. In that hell I found the devil holding keys that were mine. I did not know they were mine. Weary from the battles, the death, the aloneness, and hopelessness, I could not see that he had no power to keep them. He taunted me for days, hours, and moments reminding of my failures, my lack, my past, convincing me I had no hope for the future, why because I was there and I was not capable of anything. I found the Lord saving my soul as He showed me that from the womb, the enemy had 3 lies he had whispered that now had become shouts within me and my interpretation of all that was around me. They were truth to me, I believed and allowed them to determine my thoughts, decisions and interpretations of things. I did not know for they were intricately woven within my soul, but TRUTH came and He crushed those things and told me the real truth, the truth that brings life.

I have not died here…I am fighting for those keys. The keys that are mine, that were given to me by the king to rule the portion He has allotted to me. I have seen a glimpse of them but have not yet held them. The danger for the enemy is that now I know he has them and they are mine. I have not died these many deaths in vain. I know I am nothing and that is a great weapon because all that I am not…He is. I know I have no ability, anointing, or favor unless He has mercy and grace towards me and extends it to me. I know the keys the enemy is keeping from me are powerful and able to unlock the chains of many and open huge doors for others or else he would not be holding on so tightly and fighting so ferociously. I hate him and he hates me. We have that in common.

I have died many deaths this year, some I have died well and with great grace and ease, others I have died screaming, cussing and crying all the way down without any poise, grace or spirituality. But this one thing I know---I’m in love with God and God’s in love with me, this is who I am and this is who I’ll be and that settles it completely.

Ministry of the Shelf Life

We find many products on our shelves that have a shelf life. They are best if used by the date stamped somewhere on the package. We often keep certain things for rainy days, for someday down the road, or we would just like to try it sometime. Often, we find the day we desire to use it, and the date is expired… we wonder can it still be used. Maybe it’s best before this date, but certainly it would be fine after the date…wouldn’t it?

During certain times of our lives, we might find ourselves where God has prophecied, developed, and prepared us and we are ready to be exactly who He has called us to be. He then allows us to step out, maybe even pushes us out to begin to function in those giftings. Just as we begin to gain confidence and see why we’ve been through the refining process, what all the heat and stretching on the conveyor belt of His divine factory was all about, we are removed, boxed and shelved…to be used at a later date.

Yet, the shelf life is not what it seems. It is not that you are not useful, you messed up, your best days are behind you or that your creator likes to play mean games. He is not just getting your hopes up to then crush them. No, the shelf life is when you know who you are, the product God has made you to be. But the shelf, the still, unuseful, not being utilized, or added to anything around you place of seeming stagnation, is the final test of where your heart is. The test of where your security truly lies.

Is it in who you are, your gifts, and abilities? Is it in who others think you are? Is it in you thinking that you know how you will be used? Can you be just as satisfied, secure and confident in the hidden place on the shelf as you are in the obvious, public, useful place?

This is the place where it’s wrestled out from within…whether your identity is in Him who made you or in what He called you to do. This is the place of patience and trust knowing that HE has stamped seasons on our life and He knows when those times expire. He knows that we will be best if used by… but His timing isn’t necessarily about a specific day, it often involves the response of our heart…our heart readiness.

He is not just after the product being useful and having purpose. He cares about us and how we will be affected by the pressures, requirements, and temptations we will face once we are fully released.

He knows the end from the beginning and knows what faces us down the road. The greatest gift of love is to test our security so that we will know regardless of being loved or hated, our identity and safety lies in Him. Our hope is in Him, our purpose is in Him and for Him. But, we have to taste usefulness, success and then have it be pulled away to test us to see if our identity, passions and heart are about the call or about Him who called us.

He gives and He takes away. Does He do it to frustrate, embitter, or cause us to doubt. No, He does it to do us good in the end. He tests us so we can travel through the paths of frustration, visit the streams of bitterness and taste the fruit of self doubt and doubting Him. We then have to choose if we will walk from frustration to the path of peace, visit but not drink in bitterness, wrestle with the taste of doubting, and decide that we like the taste of His goodness and trusting Him much more.

We then realize that regardless of where we find ourselves, being added to other ingredients in His kingdom or placed specifically on the shelf to be called upon for another time, we are secure. Secure in knowing our life is not our own, we are His for whatever He needs, whenever He sees fit.

Down the road, we may be the donkey He needs to carry destiny on our back whether to Bethlehem or through the streets of Jerusalem. We may be the tree that helps others climb to see Jesus. We may be the clothing used to cover another’s shame, or a stone to slay a giant.

We might find ourselves called to be a deliverer of millions, shelved in the desert for 40 years, or shelved in prison until the time to save a nation. Maybe we will be a voice in the wilderness, or an alabaster bottle filled with the fragrance of Christ’s character broken just to minister to someone our great love in a time of their greatest need.

The shelf life is a special time that digs into deeply hidden places in order to bring them to the light so that the fullness of all He is will be what brings us life.