Friday, July 27, 2012

Do You Set Goals?

Original watercolor by my 7-year-old niece, Oliva.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a book I had found as I cleaned house. It was the Bible study, Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull.
As I am looking through this book, it is so heavily highlighted in pink, I have to laugh. I was so excited about what I read years ago that I seemed to highlight every word and now that I reread them, I know why I couldn’t put my pen down.
Listen to this:  “. . . we need to envision the writer we hope to become and the work we hope to produce for the Lord’s glory.” And, “When my mind is centered on Christ and I choose to rely on ‘his mighty power,’ I discover he is able to do far more’ than my ‘highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes’ “ (Eph. 3:20) This is found in the chapter, Making It Happen.
Marlene also talks about setting goals. We can set long-range goals and then break that down into more specific short-term goals. I can’t tell you how many times I have written down goals and have accomplished some, but not all and have become discouraged. But, then I come back again, a few months down the road and start again and try to set new goals. I have since tried to not set as many goals and work though them, and it gives me more confidence to move on.
This summer has been an exhausting summer for me physically and mentally. I am so glad I came across this book so I can be encouraged and remember how excited I was when I read the book for the first time. I feel the excitement building a little again.

Question: Does setting goals help you accomplish more things?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Art Camp a Success

This week I had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers who presented a Bible/Art Camp for twenty-three children from our church community group. It was such a pleasure to watch the children in grades one through six learn about God and explore art and the talents He has given them. Two professional artists volunteered their time and led the students through exercises, while an adult leader at each table assisted.
I had an idea a few months ago to have some type of an art camp for kids based on Biblical content. I had been providing arts and crafts for them to do during our community’s monthly meetings. As I talked the idea around I met people who were interested and then the ball started rolling and people wanted to help and we had a two-day camp and it was AWESOME.

            As I watched them I wished I could go back and be a child again. Here is what I envied:
            They are so excited about life.
They are not bothered by other people’s talent but just put down on paper what they want to do.
They are spontaneous and anxious to show an adult what they have created to hear approval.
They verbalize what they want to do, although it might not be appropriate all the time.
They gave me joy watching them do their art and running down the hall, celebrating life. I want to remember their joy and the joy I had in providing the opportunity for them.

How do feel when you see children enjoying life?


Friday, July 13, 2012

Write His Answer

Interesting things happen when I know I am going to have company. One thing I do is clean the house and “unearth” items, like books, that I forget I have. A book I came across this week is, Write His Answer, a Bible Study for Christian Writers by MarleneBagnull. The book is highlighted and underlined with pen and notes written in the margins. As I reread it I remembered why it meant so much to me.

In the foreword, by veteran author Lee Roddy, I highlighted the line “ . . . an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives.” Wow, I remember first reading that line and how I need to remind myself of that today.

The book is divided into 33 chapters of three to four pages and at the end of each chapter is a short series of questions, titled, “Responding to God’s Call,” with space to comment. I had filled out many of the questions almost fifteen years ago and it was interesting reading my responses from so long ago.

The chapters have titles such as Called to Write, Keeping in Balance, By My Spirit, Disappointed by Not Discouraged, In Dry Times, Finding Our Place. I forgot what a treasure this book was to me.

In the next month or so I plan to share some encouragement for writers from the book. Marlene Bagnull, who is also the director of two Christian writers conferences, Greater Philadelphia and Colorado Christian, uses scripture throughout the book to inspire writers.

In the chapter, Called to Write, she referes to Matthew 10:32-33 where Jesus speaks about if we publicly acknowledge him, he would do the same before His father. Marlene then asks the question, “Certainly my refusal to write was not a denial of him or was it?”

Also, a phrase I had highlighted was about vulnerability: “I sensed the most difficult things for me to share could be the very words someone else needed to read.”

This is a just a few of the gems I will share during the Summer from a book written over twenty years ago, that still touches lives.

Have you read this book? What did it mean to you? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How Do You Fill Your Creative Well?

How do you fill your creative well? One way I do this is to visit an art museum. 

Since I live a short train ride away from the Art Insititute of Chicago I try to do this a few times a year. I always love to take the train to the city. I take my journal and observe people. I watch as they board and disembark, noticing their age, dress and if they sit close to me, I listen to their dialect. I also discreetly listen to snippets of conversations and learn how people are involved in various situations.

As the train winds into the heart of the city, I look at the tall buildings and strain my eyes to look inside an open curtain and wonder what an apartment or condo looks like in the city. What do people think or dream about? I get an idea for a short story about a single woman who lives downtown and before we arrive at the station I give her a name.

I walk down Michigan Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Chicago. I hear cars going by, cabs zooming past with horns blaring. I smell exhaust, tobacco, coffee brewing from a coffee shop. I try to engage my senses.

I finally enter the museum. Conversations are more hushed and people are walking slower. I find a bench and sit down to take a look long at my favorite painting: Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, by Gustavo Caillebotte. I ask myself: Who are the people in the painting? How does the artist paint something that causes us to stop and stare and inspires us to create in our own ways? I could have sat there for an hour, but I move on.

The day ends too quickly and I come home tired, with sore feet, but I am filled up. Back at my suburban home, I pull out the postcards I bought at the museum. On each visit I buy postcards of the paintings that caused my heart to soar. I don’t want to lose this feeling of being filled up, but I know it will pass, but not before I write in my journal and get down on paper those ideas and inspirations I don’t want to forget.

How do you get “filled up" creatively?