My Artistic Toolkit

I’ve spent this past week being inspired by the questions in my 52 Pep Talks for Writers book by Grant Faulkner, the executive director of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I’ve talked about and participated in this organization’s events. They’re actually the group that inspired me to get back into writing so when I bought this book last year, I knew it would be useful for me going forward. The prompt that inspired me this past week and which I’m going to delve into further today is this one. “What is an art form you rarely engage in, but have respect for? What similarities do you see between it and your writing? What differences? Pursue it and notice how your writing is enhanced by your practice.”

I’ll start with the first question. There are two art forms I have engaged in before and really enjoyed. But, I haven’t engaged in either of them since the new year began. The first is using markers to color in those adult coloring books that are all the rage. I know this seems very basic and probably something more for children, but it spoke into my writing when I was doing it. Trying to decide what colors to use to make the pictures and the words on the pages stand out helped me to visualize the pictures my words were creating in other people’s minds. It’s a skill, I’ve read, that is important to authors of all abilities. When I color, my mind drifts, and the words seem to come more easily. As far as differences go, any art form that creates pictures that can be seen instead of imagined is very different from the creative pursuit called writing. While I know people can interpret any kind of portrait or painting differently, the ability to see the colors and the finished product on the paper or canvas is a different exercise than using the imaginations we all have to create the pictures in our minds like we do when we read our books or stories. I’ve been thinking I need to get back to this pursuit and seeing the benefits written in black and white might be the impetus I need to do so.

The other art form I rarely engage in now, but have the utmost respect for is crocheting or knitting. Crocheting was the one I learned, but both of them are similar enough that I felt like I should mention both. I especially like the pretty colors of the yarn and the way they can be arranged into patterns. This art form is more difficult than coloring, or at least I found it so, but I was able to make some small things I was pleased with. It helped with my writing in similar ways too. When I got to where I could do the simple stitches at a reasonable speed, I was able to come up with ideas for my stories while I created something that someone else would find useful. I was able to expand the creative parts of my mind while crocheting, and I experienced a time of expanded creativity.

But, it got harder, and I think that’s why I gave it up. I wasn’t able to create the potholders or pretty blankets I saw other people crocheting, and it was hard for me to see other art forms being preferred as gifts than the writing that was my offering. So, I gave up pursuing other forms of art so I could work on getting better at my writing. That was what made it different for me and made me think I couldn’t pursue other forms of art.

I’ve changed my mind now though. I’ve gained more confidence in myself since I gave up practicing the other forms of art. I know that having a wide variety of items in my toolkit can only help me in my quest to become a better writer. So, I’m going to start pursuing them again, at least one of them anyway, And I would encourage those of you who are writers to do the same with other forms of art that intrigue you.

Have a great day, all!

What Happened to Love in the Christian Church?

I discussed this at length in my journal earlier, but the topic won’t let me go. Of course, it could also have something to do with the fact that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. So, I thought this would be a good topic to explore in the blog. I decided to take it, run with it, and see what happens.

As I said, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and anything media-related is full of ads for the perfect gift for your romantic partner. To a lesser extent, there are also valentines for your child to pass out in class and gifts for you to give to your family. It’s another media-hyped holiday to get us to spend our hard-earned money in the name of love.

But, love…that’s an important thing. God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for us and be resurrected three days later. It’s the basis for this faith we practice as stated in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So, we should know. We should know how we’re supposed to love people.

What’s happened then? What’s happened that’s made it so hard to state and show love in the Christian church? There are many reasons the first of which involves sin nature as if you didn’t know I was going to say that.  🙂 When the Fall happened, when Adam and Eve sinned and were forced out of the Garden of Eden, everything that God had made was perverted including love. It’s why Jesus had to come here and die for us. He was the only One unselfish enough whose sacrifice God would accept. Humans make it hard and are hard to love, and sin nature has made them that way.

That’s why we, who are Christians, need the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us love. Having the Holy Spirit in our lives is the only way we can love others. His presence is the only way we can love through the selfishness, the brokenness, and the impatience we all show on a daily basis. Some of us are better at expressing this than others, but we can all be better. How are we going to attract the world to Jesus if we are no better than the world? Not very well, I think.

Then, there’s the way the English language has mangled love. Speakers of this language only have one word to describe this feeling–love. And, I think we can all definitely say that the feelings we have toward our romantic partners are different than the feelings we have toward a piece of apple pie and everything in-between. At least, mine are different. 🙂 Couple that with sin nature, and you can see all the problems that could come with saying ‘I love you.’ to our Christian brothers and sisters. Even with all of the qualifiers which I can’t stand anyway. (Especially with the sex trafficking that’s going on worldwide.)

But, we need to try–to express love and to show love, and to do that, I thought it would be helpful to define the ‘types of love’ that exist in the ancient Greek language. They had more than one word for love which, I think, might be helpful in how we think of love.

The first kind is eros, and this resembles what we, in the West, think of as romantic love. The kind of love that Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate. This word comes from the word erotas which is ‘intimate love’ and which represents sexuality. But, as I said earlier, this is NOT the only way we’re supposed to love.

The second kind of love is philia. This, in today’s terms, represents something like brotherly love. It shows loyalty, sacrifice, and appreciation. More of a familial or close friend kind of love, if you would, where people would take care of each other and show love to each other because of the kind of relationship they had.

There is nothing wrong with either of these kinds of love. In fact, I would argue that God knows they exist and that they help us build bonds with each other which are necessary and helpful in this fallen world. But, and this is a big but, these are NOT the only kinds of love we should have. It’s the third kind of love that represents what Jesus did for us on the cross and how He wants us to love each other. The word is agape. A word that any of us who have been Christians for a while are probably familiar with. It means universal love, charity or altruism essentially a love that we give freely to others regardless of the relationship we have with them. This represents how God wants us to love and how He wants us to show Him to the world. We need to love this way in our churches first though, and this is where, I believe, we are sorely lacking. How can we love the world if we can’t even show love or express love in the church?

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I issue a challenge. Let’s take time to show love in the way God wants us to. I think we’ll all be glad we did.

God bless you all!

 

Word of the Month – Believe

The calendar has turned from January to February which means it’s time for a new word of the month. Last month I talked about discipline and how I was working on retraining my brain to focus on my words and what I wanted to do with them. I wanted to make it clear to you all, but mostly to myself, that discipline was necessary to be a writer. This month I want to switch direction and talk about what the word believe means to me in my quest to write the best words I can write. Believe. It’s an easy word to write, but oh so hard to put into practice when I’m referring to myself. My hope is I can do it justice for my February word of the month.

There are many definitions of this word. The first one is “accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.” Another one is to “accept the statement of (someone) as true.” A third is to “have faith especially religious faith.” The fourth, and I believe the truest part of what I want to say, is to “feel sure that (someone) is capable of a particular action.” For me, that action would be writing. If you read my post last week, you know that belief in myself is a very hard thing for me. To me, everyone else seems to accomplish their goals effortlessly while I have to slog and wade through mud to accomplish even the smallest part of what I want to do. I can accept the truth of my faith. I can accept other people’s statements as true, but when I am called to believe in myself as a writer, I struggle.

The struggle is the same when I consider the noun belief as opposed to the verbal form believe. The definitions are similar, but the way belief is defined is not as active as the definition for the word believe. (Yes, I do know that verbs are supposed to show action, but I do have a point for this.) Here is the first definition. Belief is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” It can also be defined as “trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.” I don’t understand how or why I can hold strong beliefs in my faith or in other people, but not be able to hold them in myself.

I think it might be because I’m afraid. Afraid of being rejected by my closest family and friends. Afraid of getting slammed against a wall and told that I’m a horrible writer. Told that I would be better if I just gave up any notion that I ever had of publishing my words or my stories.

I believe this is why I need to have the more active form of the word as my word of the month. It will help me to gain strength in my chosen craft and confidence to defeat all the negative things said about my writing. If I can say ‘I believe I’m a writer,’ for twenty-eight days in a row, I will be much further along on the path to believing this is something I can do and do well.

I wish that same belief on all of us who are writers and creators this month.

God bless you all!