I am so honored to introduce May’s Artist of the Month with you! Heather Hernandez is a wife and mother of two, writing about embracing divine joy in every season. We met recently over the interwebs, via our mutual membership in an excellent website called Hope*Writers.
Encouragement flows naturally out of Heather and subsequently her writing, because it is innately part of her. She writes over at rejoicinginlife.com where you can find more encouragement as a mom, creative, and/or human being. Heather was recently featured at (in)courage as well, which is a website devoted to creating a new home for the hearts of women to connect and thrive with God and each other.
You’ll also find some excellent FREE resources when you subscribe to Heather’s blog that will help you embrace the season you are in through faith, organization, and really good questions to ask yourself.
Today, she generously shares how to live a creative and artful life well from a place of purpose and peace.
“God wrote, ‘I love you’— he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us to know him, to make our hearts sing.” Sally Lloyd Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible
I was reading this to my son yesterday and it stuck with me.
Because all of creation, all of the beauty God lavishly painted across the sea, the earth, the sky, and the stars, all of his ART…it all points us back to him. It whispers to us deep in our souls and spirits about who he is.
He poured out his creativity into his creation. Into us.
And I believe that all of us have that spark. That divine well of creativity that when we are soaking in His words, His song, His beauty, His creation, enables us to live creative, beautiful, artful lives wherever we are at, in so many different ways.
It’s been almost seventeen years since my father died and it wasn’t until last month when I wrote about him living his life well, that I realized part of why I thought he lived it well was because he was making art with his life.
I think that looks like being present, blooming where you are planted, using limitations for inspiration, doing the things that make you more fully yourself and using the gifts our Creator bestowed upon you.
For my father, that looked like, transforming our little backyard into his own mini farm, woodworking, leather working, hiking, camping, fishing, taking classes in Western history, and writing a book by hand during his lunch breaks and cracks of time. It also looked like playing, and chasing, and wrestling with my brother and I.
He didn’t have acres of land to farm or the money to buy one. He didn’t have the ability to quit his “regular” job and write for a living. But he didn’t let the limitations stop him from using his gifts and pursuing the things he loved. He lived and loved and died well. And his life pointed everyone back to the Creator.
I inherited my love of writing from him. There have been a lot of stops and starts and redirections along the way, but I’m finally feeling like I have a purpose in it all. That I have something to write about.
But this season for me is one of pregnancies and raising babies and making a home. And so it looks like finding my cracks of time to write and create and dream. And remembering to be present with my children and my husband. To see the limitations as ways to decide what is important and refine my focus.
I think there is this idea that bigger is better. That we have to be on the NY Times Bestseller list, or reach hundreds of thousands with our words. That we need to be selling albums, or be a nationally recognized name, or grow our businesses bigger and bigger.
But I think when we measure value by the number of sales, page views, and likes, we are missing the mark.
It is so easy to compare my life, my purpose, my gifts to other people. Especially the well known ones who do have the big numbers, likes, and followers. But we are all unique and we are in different places and seasons and God’s purposes for our lives are as vast and varied as His creation.
And the person who is faithful where they are planted, who blooms there as they cultivate and care for their patch of ground, their little family, their little community. They are doing just as valuable work as the person who is speaking to the masses.
It’s not about the quantity of what we have to offer, or even the number of people we touch. It’s about offering up our gifts to God and listening to what He is calling US to do and being faithful in that.
In the interest of my love for lists, here are some things I think we can do to be purposeful about living more creative and artful lives.
1. Be Present.
It’s so easy to drift through life always thinking about the next thing on the To Do list (Ahem, Me!) Try to stop and slow down and be present in what you are doing. Really take in your surroundings when you’re going for a walk. Give your children some focused attention and listen to what they are saying. Dance in the kitchen. Sing with the kids. Savor your cup of coffee. Use your five senses.
2. Where Are You Planted?
Take stock of your season and your responsibilities. What are your limitations right now? They can change sometimes without us really noticing. Be realistic about what you have time for.
3. Use Your Limitations for Inspiration.
Take the parameters of those limitations and think about what you can do within them. Prioritize what is important to you and your family and refine your focus and purpose for this particular season.
4. Use Your Gifts.
What do you love? What skills and abilities did the Lord give you? What makes you feel alive and energized? Write them down and think about ways you can use them in your life. You may not have room for all of them at once. Come up with what you can do right now in this season and pick some to add in. Depending on how much time and energy you have in your season, it may look as simple as writing while the kids are napping, or inviting another mom over for coffee once a week or sketching after the kids are in bed, or playing the piano for your children.
5. How Can You Help and/or Enrich Other’s Lives?
This goes hand in hand with using your gifts. Once you decide what you love and which things to make time for, then think about how you can use them to help others or enrich others lives. Can you make dinners for new mothers? (They SUPER appreciate this, I guarantee!) Maybe start writing encouraging notes to people, or help in the nursery at church, or do something to raise money for charity. Ask the Lord to show you opportunities that are a good fit for your season.
6. Keep Your Well Filled.
This should perhaps be #1 as well. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, in the cares of this world and stop dwelling on God and my well dries up, and I feel like I don’t have anything to pour back out. Anything to fuel that kind of art.
I think that’s why it’s so important to dwell on the true, the noble, the just, the pure, the lovely, the admirable, the excellent, and the praiseworthy. (Phillippians 4:8)
To seek out the things of beauty. To fill ourselves up so we have something to give, to create.
To reflect the glory of God.
So remember, you are special and unique and don’t have to be anyone except who God created you to be. You can live artfully no matter what season you are in and what your particular gifts and talents are. And everything you have to offer is valuable and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone.
And all of this beauty? All of creation?
It is his message of “I love you”.