The essence of creativity…

As I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, ...

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GRAPHIC essence of creativityAs I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, afraid the thought would vanish with the scenery. Bits of my own writing, bits of other people’s.

This quotation is one I stumbled upon again recently. I immediately fell in love with when I first read it—when Ann Voskamp posted it in 2012 in a post about why everyone needs to make art everyday. (Read that post here.)

Because of my new book, I’m thinking a lot about creativity. About risk. About finding the courage to seek God even when it’s not easy. To look for Him even when we’re tired and weary. To pick up the Bible even when we don’t know where to start. Wondering about how to keep up a life of faith, how to not burn out, how to push through anyway. And I’m pondering how to still my mind and relax into my relationship with God even as I try frantically to meet this next writing deadline.

Just because I’m writing about prayer does not mean I struggle any less than you do. But with each comment I receive, each message and question about prayer, I am more and more inspired to work on this book. I’m in love with the subject. I’m in love with creativity. And I’m remembering how much I’m in love with the Creator who inspires all of those things.

And I’m grateful for you. For that thing inside that won’t let go, the part of you that keeps reaching, keeps wanting to try again or find more of God or reach out to connect with others. The part of you that keeps hoping. We hear all the time that God is love. And oh, He is. We can rest in it, pull it around us, wrap ourselves in the warm cloak of God’s adoration.

But the word that makes my spirit leap is hope. Hope says there’s always something more. That the end is not the end. That somehow, some way, things will get better. Deadlines will be met, bodies will be healed, finances will balance, relationships will be restored, life will move forward, and God will prevail.

But allowing ourselves to believe? Letting ourselves feel that hope? It’s hard. And scary. It’s a huge risk. But if you look back at Ann’s quote, note that she doesn’t simply say that creativity is believing. She says it’s believing enough.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to believe everything you hear or study. You don’t need all the answers. You can still wonder, and doubt, and try, and fail, and walk forward, and fall back. But just believe enough to pick yourself back up. To take one more step. To reach out your hand, to tilt your face towards the sky. To dream. To create. To pray. To seek. To hope. And to find.

Because the biggest risks bring the greatest rewards.

 

 

The problem with prayer

Probably not the topic you’d expect to read here, is it? I write about prayer. I believe in prayer. I’ve seen power and miracles and answers that would knock your socks off. Little requests fulfilled; major mountains moved. It works. I believe that. But the problem? You’re never done. I’m a list maker. I will ...

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Probably not the topic you’d expect to read here, is it? I write about prayer. I believe in prayer. I’ve seen power and miracles and answers that would knock your socks off. Little requests fulfilled; major mountains moved. It works. I believe that.

But the problem? You’re never done.

I’m a list maker. I will transfer items I’ve already completed to a sheet of paper just for the sheer joy of crossing them off. I line my computer monitor with post-it notes with check boxes beside each item. I have lists in my calendar. I make lists for my family when I’m not around.

I like to finish something. I don’t have the world’s longest attention span. I also am a big fan of instant gratification, which is why I can never seem to schedule posts here on this blog. I write it, and I want it to go live. So I never seem to stick to a schedule. But I’m trying. (And I’ve digressed.)

As I was saying, I like to finish things. I hate projects that go on for months and months. I have to break them down into smaller pieces so that I can check them off: Do initial layout. Get approval. Revise layout. Get approval. Prepare art for printer. Download high-res photos. Get printing quote. Send to printer. Send invoice.

But prayer? I don’t get to cross that off.

Don’t get me wrong. I like to pray. I really do. But sometimes, because I’m so driven and obsessive and overscheduled (my own fault), I wish I could draw a nice big checkmark next to it.

I may be an overachiever in many ways. But I am severely lacking in discipline and longevity. I get tired. And bored.

July 2015 prayer prompt previewWhich brings me, finally, to my point: July’s prayer prompt calendar is ready to download. If you struggle like I do—if sometimes prayer seems too abstract and on-going, too lofty and heavy—this may be just what you need. It’s one simple prompt for each day of the month. You’re not required to stop there—let your mind wander. Open your eyes to whatever God brings before you. Keep watching… and waiting… and praying. Because just like our responsibility to pray never ends, our God never ends. We will always get answers. We will never cease to be changed.

And all it takes is just a few minutes a day. One small item on your to-do list with a monumental impact. And one mighty God. After a while, it won’t feel like a task to be crossed off a list, but a treat. A joy. A way to soften your heart, slow your mind. And connect. Amen.

 

Don’t do it

Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that ...

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PUD book quotes-19Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down


Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.” Which is amazing. Wonderful. Right?

But read it in The Message: “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

That’s right. Nothing. Maybe today we can all sit back for a moment and let that sink in: There is nothing that can get in the way of our finding everything. Thank You, Lord!


Remember the giveaway I posted a couple weeks ago for those who wrote reviews of Praying Upside Down? First, I want you to know how grateful I am for each one of you who took the time to post a review. It means so much. And second, here are the prizes and the names of the winners. Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get you your prizes!

Where are you?

When I pull farther away from God, His size, importance, and abilities seem smaller. But when I draw in close, He becomes magnified. He becomes everything to me. ~Praying Upside Down   Have you seen this play out in your life? What did you do to draw in close again?  ...

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PUD book quotes-11

When I pull farther away from God, His size, importance, and abilities seem smaller. But when I draw in close, He becomes magnified. He becomes everything to me. ~Praying Upside Down


 

Have you seen this play out in your life? What did you do to draw in close again?

 

Look around

Ask God to show you where He is in anything you witness, study, or participate in. Inspiration—creative and spiritual—is everywhere. ~Praying Upside Down Anyone willing to share with the rest of us? Where have you found inspiration lately? What are you reading? Listening to? Learning? Absorbing? Watching? Discovering? It’s not too late to download this ...

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PUD book quotes-12Ask God to show you where He is in anything you witness, study, or participate in. Inspiration—creative and spiritual—is everywhere. ~Praying Upside Down


Anyone willing to share with the rest of us? Where have you found inspiration lately? What are you reading? Listening to? Learning? Absorbing? Watching? Discovering?


It’s not too late to download this June calendar to use as a daily reminder to pray… or to help you pray for something different. It’s free to all blog subscribers!

 

Messy Prayer

God has an amazing way of connecting us with each other. Becky Kopitzke and I share the same agent. During the reach-out-to-everyone-you-know phase of my book promotion, I wrote to her. Turns out, she lives near where my daughter Anna goes to school in Wisconsin. And attends the church that Anna had hoped to check ...

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God has an amazing way of connecting us with each other. Becky Kopitzke and I share the same agent. During the reach-out-to-everyone-you-know phase of my book promotion, I wrote to her. Turns out, she lives near where my daughter Anna goes to school in Wisconsin. And attends the church that Anna had hoped to check out at some point. Becky graciously welcomed her in and has met her at the coffee shop. I’m blown away by the ways God shows His love to us, by the people He places in our lives at the right times. Today I’m honored to post at Becky’s blog about when prayer is messy. Leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win a copy of Praying Upside Down!

Prayer-Messy

Surely I’m not the only mom who’s cringed at the unavoidable (but unsavory) task of accepting the artwork being held out by her small child. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? A soggy piece of construction paper, drenched with runny paint, dripping in rivulets across the page. And down your child’s arms. And into your purse, if you’re not careful. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there might even be glue. And glitter. You just know that if you touch this glorious bastion of creativity, it’s going to rub off on you, too.

Being creative can be messy.

So can prayer.

Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If prayer is, in its simplest form, communication with God—a way of reaching hold of a greater power, the greater power—then wouldn’t you want some of that to rub off?

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Simplicity

6 days until my book release! PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon....

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PUD book quotes-17

6 days until my book release!

PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon.

More

13 days until my book release! PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon....

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PUD book quotes-10

13 days until my book release!

PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon.

Right there

20 days until my book release! PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon....

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PUD book quotes-6

20 days until my book release!

PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon.

It reminds me…

  27 days until my book release! PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon....

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PUD book quotes-5

 

27 days until my book release!

PRAYING UPSIDE DOWN: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God is coming from Tyndale Momentum on May 1 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and CBD. Other sites will be available soon.

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