Monday, March 28, 2011

Sparking Creativity in Your Children

I've been doing a bit of research about children and creativity . . . and I just thought I'd share some interesting links in case anyone is interested:

Do you have any others to share?

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

The Art in the Living

As much as I love the idea of being creative every day (and participating in that official challenge), I confess that I often feel guilty making opportunities to do so. Part of the problem is that I forget who I am -- an artist, created creative like my Creator. I don't make a living off of any of my creative endeavours, but I have the Spirit of the Creator in me -- therefore all that He is, I am (when I allow Him to live His life through me).

I stumbled upon a new-to-me blog last night which reminded me of my creative roots: Emily Freeman's Chatting at the Sky. (I also discovered that she is the sister of The Nester, one of the creative bloggers I've long found inspirational!) In her post "5 ways to know if the art has to wait," Emily challenges us:
"Consider the beginning. If you pick up the Bible and start on page one, the first thing we see God do is to create. It was priority number one. It was not an afterthought. He had a purpose and a vision, and he made it come to be. If you tend to see creating art as a luxury, or if you feel guilty about your creative self, I want to urge you to reconsider. You were made in the image of Someone who places a high priority on creativity. To deny that part of yourself is insulting."

Isn't that just the cursed one telling me I "don't have time" -- or that creativity should be low on my list of priorities?!?!?!? It's the first thing God's Word expounds upon -- so it must be far more important than I allow it to be. Perhaps that explains my frustration in not making time for creativity. I feel guilty for wanting to do something I want to do, and guilty for feeling frustrated about it -- but perhaps the serpent is camouflaging the Spirit's urging to let His creativity flow through me -- freely and frequently!

The other problem is that I often neglect to recognize opportunities in my day-to-day life to be creative. Emily addresses this common difficulty, too:

"Find the art in the living. . . . [I]f you insist on compartmentalizing your art from your living, you may never find the time to pursue it. The more I see myself as an artist, the more my art spills over into my life. I begin to see meal prep as an outlet for my creative side. I use my writing as a gift by sending a long note to a friend instead of jotting a quick thank you out of obligation. If you can’t find art in your living, keep looking. I promise it’s there."

The art in the living -- that's it! That's what I need to do -- how about you?

So, what I thought I would do today is just brainstorm a number of ways to be creative in our everyday life without having to take "time out" to be creative (though of course we're not saying that's a bad thing! :). Here are just a few ideas:

  • Snap a few photos of ordinary life, considering composition as you click. The food left on your plate -- or on your child's face, the tree branch outside your kitchen window, the pile of laundry on your bed -- just look at it through the lens of a camera for a few seconds and see if you can't capture an interesting image.
  • Shape the pancake batter into letters or fun pictures as you pour it instead of simply making round pancakes.
  • "Shop the house" for an interesting item to use to decorate the family meal table for dinner and stage it as the focal point of the table setting.
  • Notice something out of place in your home and instead of being annoyed by it, make up a creative little scenario in your head about how it got that way. (If you jot things like this down, perhaps they'll grow into short stories one day!)
  • Try a new recipe for dinner, or add a new twist to an old favourite.
  • Keep a blank notebook by the  phone -- not for messages, but for doodles while you're talking. If you keep a collection of coloured pens or pencils handy, too, you might be pleasantly surprised by the things you create while you're not even trying.
  • While on "hold" on the phone, practise writing your name in new and creative ways. Perhaps you'll stumble upon a new signature for yourself. (Just remember to update your bank's records. Ask me how I know;)
  • Make up limericks with your children as you shuttle them to and fro in the car.
  • While driving somewhere, challenge your family to a sing-a-thon in which you compete to see who can come up with (and sing the relevant lines of) a song that has a specific word in it. (I have fond memories of this activity -- DH and I spent hours on our honeymoon playing this game as we drove from destination to destination. He always won ;)
  • Slip a note into a loved one's lunch. Decorate it with a cute doodle.
  • The next time you're forced to listen to an annoying, repetetive sound, see if you can "hear" words in it. (For example, if you ever have to undergo an MRI, listen to the knocking sounds and see if any "words" emerge. Or listen to the ticking of a clock . . .)
  • Play a game with your children -- but make up new rules.
  • Rearrange the furniture in a room or the contents of a cupboard to make things more functional or attractive.
  • If you're posting on facebook or twitter anyway, try using as many alliterative words (i.e. words that begin with the same consonant sound) as you can.
  • Leave someone a special message -- somewhere unusual. (DD13 recently came home and told how she and a friend had put post-it notes all over a public bathroom mirror with messages like "You're awesome!" and "You're beautiful just the way you are!" I'll bet some girl really needed to read that!)
  • Make up your own "happy dance."
  • Do something different with your hair or make-up.
  • Find as many left-overs from the fridge as you can and create something new.
What ideas do you have to be creative in everyday life? Please leave a comment if you can add to my list!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pink Prettiness

My Beloved came home with flowers tonight. Love it. Love him!

What little glimpses of prettiness have you had today?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Prayer Poetry

Sometimes I feel silly (or maybe it's pretentious) writing poetry -- and even moreso sharing it. But I read this weekend that more than one third of God's word is expressed in poetry. So, obviously God uses it to speak to His children, and He inspires them to write it. Therefore, I'm going to push the cat off my journal and keep at it . . .

Mark 1:13

For forty days
You were tempted
in the wilderness
with the wild beasts
by Satan --
You, the Son of God --
tempted by a fallen angel
who did not believe
he had enough,
nor that You
had enough.
He tempted you with "more."
How could he tempt You,
how could he offer
beyond what You have
when You have all --
when You are all?
And how can he
truly tempt me
when I have You --
the All Power and All Glory --
in me?
May I, too, submit
to the ministry of angels,
as you did,
and resist the temptation
to demand more than
the ALL that I already have.

Do you find yourself wanting more -- more time, more energy, more space, more freedom, more something? (I know I do.)

Why do we doubt that in Him we have all that we need?

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

What's in a Name?

I knew I was onto something when I started my little Joy Notes book . . .

There was just something about taking stock of the things that make me smile -- it made me more aware of them . . .

Of course, the idea of keeping a gratitude journal is not a new one. It has actually become quite trendy, I suppose. And I grew up with the song, "Count your blessings, name them one by one -- Count your blessings, see what God has done. . . ."

But it wasn't until I began reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts that I really began to understand how important it is to take detailed stock of God's gifts -- the Presence of Grace in our lives.

We all know the verses about giving thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20) and being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:12) -- but sometimes it's just a little too easy to cast a broad sweeping brush over "all things" and miss out on the important details. We look at the forest with general gratitude for its beauty, but don't see the minute moss that feels like velvet, the bud of blue periwinkle peeking out of a sea of green, or the texture of the birch bark -- and all too quickly we don't think that forest is so grand because it blocks our view of the lake or harbours night-time pests. We thank God for "this day,"  but grumble about its string of interruptions, rainy weather, and tedious tasks.

But as Ann points out in her book, what was the first task given to Adam and Eve? What did the Creator of the world ask them to do? Wasn't it to name all of the things God had given them in Eden?

Think of it -- this Monday Musing on the Creator in Me --  does He not still ask us to do that? The Giver of Great Gifts that abides in us still asks us to name each gift -- because isn't it in the naming that we recognize the abundance He gives?

Naming our blessings gives them weight -- significance. Attaching a name to anything demonstrates its value to us. (Ha! DH and I used to name all our major purchases -- cars, special pieces of furniture, homes!)

And when we start to give value to all the little things that delight us, somehow it becomes easier to give value to the gifts that don't delight us. We begin to see the world differently. We start to truly recognize that we are loved by a Good God -- and a Good God only gives good gifts. So, when we hear that dreaded diagnosis, or when we confront that catastrophe, we can see past the pain to a glimmer of glory. We can know that even though we would never have asked God for such a gift, it is a gift of Grace nonetheless.

It's not easy -- but it's simple. Like any good habit, it takes practice -- to consciously look for and at the daily gifts God gives -- and give thanks by naming them as blessings. And counting them. And knowing that they are all good -- even if we can't see the goodness in the moment.

So, if you haven't already clicked on the "Count your blessings" link above, do so now and get that little ditty running through your head . . . and I challenge you to start actually counting your blessings! You'll be amazed at the difference it makes in your life!

Have you found a creative way to document your blessings? Do tell! (You can read about the journal I altered here.) And if you have a story to tell about how it has affected your life, please share it in a comment below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal - 1000 Gifts

I've mentioned Ann Voskamp and her book, One Thousand Gifts a few times here. It's changing the way I view life. And so I've decided to take on the challenge of recording one thousand gifts that I have received from God.

To that end, I went in search of a journal to document my list. We had no appropriate one in the house (I wanted it to be wire-bound so the cover could flip back on itself) -- but DH found one for me for 50% off at Chapters-Indigo. According to the packaging, it was decorated with "vintage wallpaper." That's cool!

I liked it well enough as it was, but I wanted to personalize it -- with some ribbon and texture -- you know ;) So, using my stash of fabric and upholstery scraps, as well as some embellishments and rub-ons that we had on hand, I created this:

Since it is a gratitude journal, I figured "Thank yous" were appropriate :)

And of course it needed a bit of bling:

I can't wait to get started using it!

The cool, unplanned thing is that it goes nicely with my tote and other journal!

How cool is that?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Notebook

Someone special in our family is celebrating a birthday this month, so I decided I wanted to make a little something to commemorate the occasion. Since I had so much fun making that journal and tote last month but didn't have the same time frame in which to work, I thought I'd try a little notebook -- with a springy theme. Using cardboard, fabric scraps, old art, stamps, and one of the backgrounds from my Artistic Mother projects (which I have yet to finish!), I bound some yellow paper into this little notebook:

Because the cardboard was ugly, I glued the front and back pages to the covers. In retrospect, I wish I'd put some coloured cardstock instead, but oh well!

I left the background undecorated on the back cover, with the exception of a little bird stamp. I think he's such a cute little birdie!

I pulled out my painting from our little "classically creative" project and used it to wrap the gift.

I don't know what the little book could be used for -- grocery lists, phone messages, whatever. I do know that I soon want to make one for myself so I can start counting my God-gifts, like Ann Voskamp.

Do you like little notebooks? What do you use them for? Have you found any fun ways to make your own?

I shared this post at:

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Wonders of Wildlife

This week at HSB we're celebrating National Wildlife Week (it's later in Canada -- some time in April). It's hard not to consider the awesomeness of the Creator in and around us when we celebrate wildlife, don't you think? There's a part of us that just responds to the natural world . . . and that inspires us to think about life and beauty and miracles, all of which come from the Creator.

While I'm not great at making time for my family to have concentrated time in the midst of wildlife, I do value it. So for today's post, I thought I would brainstorm a number of ways we can appreciate the wonders of wildlife in creative and fun ways. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below.

  • Visit local conservation areas and explore, explore, explore. Take cameras and nature journals to capture images of what you observe.
  • Arrange a community clean-up in your area. Even if you just go to a local wildlife area as a family and spend an hour collecting trash, you'll be actively supporting the natural habitat while enjoying the beauty of it at the same time.
  • Borrow books from the library about wildlife in your area and see if you can find some examples that you read about.

  • If you can't get out to enjoy the wildlife in person, explore it with films and video clips, like this one:

  • Take advantage of resources available through your national wildlife association. The Canadian Wildlife Association, for example, offers downloads, e-cards, videos, games, booklets, posters, and study kits.
  • Explore wildlife through art. Learn how to draw your favourite animals and plants -- and study the work of other artists. Here is a link to a  list of Canadian wildlife artists.
  • Each day this week, spend 15 minutes outside doing something related to the natural world. Here is a list of suggestions, including simply lying under a tree and looking up.

What ideas do you have for enjoying wildlife in your area?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Preparing for the Easter Season and Spring

I won't elaborate on our Easter traditions again (click that link and this one to read about them;), but I thought I'd just share a few glimpses of how we're reminding ourselves of the reason for the season this year . . .

Our basket of symbols of the Easter story:

The Last Supper and decorated eggs, the collection of which grows each year:

Celebrating new life with spring colours and flowers:

We'll be looking for some Easter art ideas . . . do you have any suggestions?

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