Listening For His Voice

Normally on Sunday’s if I post, I post only Scripture.  To quiet my voice and all others and let Gods voice ring out across the Internet.  Today I wanted to make an exception to share this powerful video with you.  Sara Groves speaks my heart language.  I pray that today you and I are able to be extravagantly wasteful enough to rest.  May you and I be faith-filled enough to rest.  When we choose to put aside our ever-present work and rest, we are in essence saying to God, “I know you will care for me.  You will provide.  You are in control, not me.  You are worthy of my dependency and my quiet, available spirit, rather than only my bustling and busy activity.  You are sufficient.  You are able.  You are enough.”

Seeing Clearly

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“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
(1 Corinthians 13:12 MSG)

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
(ESV)

It’s sort of cheesy, I know.. but the back of this stitching project I recently finished keeps singing this verse over me.  This is as good as it gets folks.  We see the scribbly backside of the masterpiece, and we can sort of make out shapes and letters and colors, we can sort of see an order to it.  The very best and brightest of us, the very godliest to walk the earth–this is as well as we can see it.  Won’t it be incredible to get to glory and finally see if fully?  To see it rightly?  To know as we are known?

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Yes, I think the relief and joy and delight we will feel will be nearly more than we can handle, certainly more than we can hope to comprehend this side of heaven.  Hang in there, friends.  His plan is good.  There is an order.  He has an explanation for it all that is going to exult your heart until the end of time.  His ways are higher.  His ways are love.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:9)

“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.”
(Psalm 92:4)

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.”
(Psalm 145:8-9, 17)

All praise to Him for that truth.

Also, littlest one has been trying to get her hands on this project ever since I started it.  I’m really thankful to Alicia Paulson for creating this fun stitching kit and I’m eager to frame it and see it in the kid’s room!  Minutes borrowed from each day over the course of a few months and here is the final result.  There are a TON of mistakes (so don’t look too closely), but I’ve realized I’m not a perfect needlepointer and I don’t really mind imperfections.

Happy Friday, folks, and hope you have a lovely weekend!

The Discipline of Play

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Somewhere along the way I traded exploration, creativity, imagination for utility.  Somewhere along the way I decided usefulness trumps play.  When time is short, and the reality of the darkness of our world creeps in, and work threatens to suffocate, who has time for art?  Who has time for recreation?  Who has time for pleasure?  When my Christian brothers + sisters around the globe are losing their heads for their faith, how can I justify sitting idly and losing mine in a book?

I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great theologian and pastor in Germany during the Nazi regime, desperately fighting against the dominance of the Nazi mindset and theology, its putrid sectarianism creeping into Christ’s very church.  What a time to live in!  Believers during that time were facing intense persecution and the daily knowledge that their time was short, their lives were at risk.  Hardly was there time to waste when doctrines must be fought for and upheld, lives must be rescued.

And yet, even in the midst of this time of war, Bonhoeffer, who led + taught a seminary, regularly included recreation as part of the seminarians disciplined life.  Did you catch that?  He made sure they had time to P L A Y.  Who could possibly think about playing in a time of such great risk and suffering?

But the reality is, who can think at all if one doesn’t have the release found in play?

One of Bonhoeffer’s students said,

“Bonhoeffer wanted a genuine, natural community in the Preacher’s Seminary, and this community was practiced in play, in walks through the richly wooded and beautiful district of Pomerania, during evenings spent in listening to someone reading, . . . in making music and singing, and last not least in worship together and holy communion. He kept entreating us to live together naturally and not to make worship an exception. He rejected all false and hollow sentiment.” (I Knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p.155)

Sometimes when the world is spinning crazy and threats of war overwhelm, we must remember our humanity, we must still honor the creativity with which our Creator instilled in us.  He made us to be creative in His image.  He made us to be moved by music, to be triggered by the beauty of nature toward mediation on His divine attributes.  When we are tired and weary, we must discipline ourselves to play.

We must make art in the face of war.

And even in the weariness of our regular work, we must sabbath and refresh our souls.

Something God has been teaching me lately is to honor His creativity in me, the desires I have to pursue the arts.  It was more natural to me as a child; I have journal after journal of poetry, drawings + scribblings, and stacks of songs I had written from my younger years.  Then I “grew up” and gave all of that up in the name of maturity, adulthood, in the name of pursuing God.  Somehow I separated “creating” from true spirituality, no longer seeing it’s use in the Kingdom work.

But God is calling me to be a child again in my creating.  To honor the longing to write, to get back to the work of play.  Plain and simple play, play that isn’t for any purpose other than play.  No agenda, no hoped-for-outcome.  For a utilitarian like myself, this is a discipline!

So, yesterday, after the kids were napping and my household tasks were mostly done, I sat down with a paintbrush + paper.  I’ve never worked with watercolors before, never really painted much before.  It was humorous to me how many times I got nervous about what I was doing, afraid to “mess it up,” and literally had to say out loud to myself, “This is just play.  Just fun.”

This was the outcome (and, not pictured: a restful, happy me):

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Let’s take time to play, let’s discipline ourselves to play when all the world is telling us that only what is profitable, only what is measurable is valuable.

Who knows what we could create?  Who knows what beauty we might bring forth?

What is Art?

I have been thinking so much on art lately.  Ever since reading Emily Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways.  I have been mulling over what the purpose is in art, in beauty, in good food, in laughter, in good movies or piercing music.  In cleanliness, in order.  Does art matter?  Does it have a purpose or is it an unnecessary trivia in this world rife with pain and turmoil?  People are suffering–does art matter?

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Today these words from Francis Schaeffer’s wife, Edith:

“What is Art?  Authorities do not agree.  Definitions differ.  Who draws the line that separates
Art from Design?
Sculpture from Ornaments?
Poetry from Jingles?
Great Music from Pooh’s Hums?
Great Literature from Daily News?

Is Art beauty, or depth of expression?
Is Art communication calling for response?
Is Art talent for involving other human beings in what otherwise would remain locked in the mind?
Is Art something that draws many others into the beauty, joy, and vividness of another person’s understanding?
Is Art something that includes others in the torn struggling of another person’s suffering?

Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality.  Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared.  One individual personality has definite or special talent for expressing, in some medium, what other personalities can hear, see, smell, feel, taste, understand, enjoy, be stimulated by, be involved in, find refreshment in, find satisfaction in, find fulfillment in, experience reality in, be agonized by, be pleased by, enter into, but which they could not produce themselves.

Art in various forms expresses and gives opportunity to others to share in, and respond to, things which would otherwise remain vague, empty yearnings.  Art satisfies and fulfills something in the person creating and in those responding.

One area of art inspires another area of art, but also one person’s expression of art stimulates another person and brings about growth in understanding, sensitivity, and appreciation.  One active artist gives courage and incentive, and germinates ideas in others for producing more art.  Hence a very poor, humble or unknown artist might easily provide the spark which kindles the fire of a great artist.  But however good or great, his art is never perfect.

The only artist who is perfect in all forms of creativity–in technique, in originality, in knowledge of the past and future, in versatility, in having perfect content to express as well as perfect expression of content, in having perfect truth to express as well as perfect expression of truth, in communicating perfectly the wonders of all the exists as well as something about Himself, is of course God–the God who is Personal.

God, the Artist!”

-Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking