Squandered Creativity

I am taking a writing class using the text, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity”. I love the text, the daily homework, and the weekly zoom class. I am excited to see how the Lord will use it to move my writing in new directions … to give me new dreams to pursue.

However, sometimes the text makes me pause. I want to respond to the author and say, “No! Wait! That wasn’t my experience! Let me explain!”

pg. 6 “Many of us find that we have squandered our own creative energies by investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams, and plans of others. Their lives have obscured and detoured our own. As we consolidate a core through our withdrawal process, we become more able to articulate our own boundaries, dreams, and authentic goals. Our personal flexibility increases while our malleability to the whims of others decreases. We experience a heightened senes of autonomy and possibility.

Ordinarily, when we speak of withdrawal, we think of having a substance removed from us. … (however), in creative withdrawal … we ourselves are the substance we withdraw to, not from, as we pull our overextended and misplaced creative energy back into our own core. … (Then), we begin to excavate our buried dreams.”

There is so much in this passage …

While I did spend 36 years “investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams, and plans of others”, I do not in any way see it as “squandering my own creative energies”. Oh.My.No. God blessed me with 12 beautiful children; He called me to a life of homeschooling. Not one minute of those many years of parenting was squandered; not one ounce of my energy was wasted.

While my children’s hopes and dreams and plans did “obscure” my own life, it was not in any way a “detour”. No. It was the exact path that God chose for my life. I would not trade that path for anything! It was my path … my journey of faith … my calling.

Now that my youngest child is 19, my personal flexibility is able to increase, while my “malleability to the whims of others” is able to decrease. Now that I am not on-call 24/7 for the needs of my children, I am better able to “articulate my own boundaries, dreams, and authentic goals”. Now that all of my children are adults, the Lord is leading me down new paths; He is uncovering my buried dreams.

When the Lord showed me this summer that it was time to leave my job at the elementary school, He was showing me that it was time for me to withdraw … not from anything, but to myself. He showed me that it was time to pull my “over-extended and misplaced creative energy” back into my own core. Now, He will be able to use me in new and exciting ways … through writing … through speaking … through teaching … through baking …

There are so many buried dreams bubbling to the surface, as I have withdrawn enough to be able to dig down through the mud to find them again.

What does this look like on a daily basis? I must take my Writing & Speaking Ministry and my Bake Shoppe Business seriously. I must make time for each of them. I must learn to tell myself that my calendar is not “empty” … I DO have things to do … goals to meet … projects to work on.

After 37 years of parenting, it is taking me awhile to figure out who I am … to see the gifts and the beauty in just being me … to uncover the person that has been hidden beneath the title of “Mother of Many” for so many years. I still love that title, and I am still the Mother of 12. I have also been blessed to add the title of “Nana of 18” to my identity. But, I need to not forget who I am … who God created me to be.

Have your creative energies been invested disproportionately in the lives of others? Has your identity become, “Just a mom”? Are you wondering who you really are … what gifts you have … how you can serve the Lord as “Just me”? I encourage you to take some time to withdraw, and to seek the Lord as to what buried dreams He wants to help you uncover.

The Waiting Room

Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly never-ending Waiting Room? Are you waiting for God to heal an injury or disease? Are you waiting for the Lord to bring restoration to a broken relationship? Are you waiting for Jesus to answer your prayers for a child? Are you waiting for God to fill your longing for a husband or wife?

Waiting rooms are HARD! They are not a fun place to sit for extended periods of time. They are uncomfortable … and lonely.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Steve gave a message about The Waiting Room.  We are in a sermon series on “Brain Battles”, and Pastor Steve taught about how to “Reframe” our Waiting Rooms.  Reframing is to see a situation from a different perspective.  

His message really struck me … and I was nearly in tears by the end, thinking of the many long years that I have been sitting in a Waiting Room.  A few days later, I re-watched the message online, and took more detailed notes.

In John 11:1-6, Mary and Martha told Jesus that Lazarus was sick and dying.  Yet, Jesus did not rush right to them.  He waited 2 days to go to them.  Can you imagine being in their waiting room?  “Why isn’t Jesus coming NOW?”

Pastor Steve pointed out that:

  1. Jesus is perfectly okay with us sitting in the waiting room.

He also suggested that we might need to reframe that to say:

*  Waiting is a good thing.

This is hard for many of us.  We may acknowledge that Jesus allows us to sit in the waiting room; but to say that it is a “good thing” might be taking it a bit too far.

Some of us are in the Waiting Room … waiting for a prodigal son or daughter to return.

Some of us are in the Waiting Room … awaiting healing from a serious illness.

Some of us are in the Waiting Room … waiting for restoration of family relationships.

Some of us are in the Waiting Room … praying for friendships, fellowship, and  community.

And … none of this is fun.  Sitting in the Waiting Room can be very hard.

Pastor Steve went on to share that:

2.  The Waiting Room puts us in a powerless position.

We may be absolutely broken when we realize that there is nothing that we can do to fix our situation.

But … how can we reframe this?

*  In our weakness He is strong.

Oftentimes, it is only once we come to the full realization that there is nothing that we can do … that we turn it all over to the Lord.  Then, once we turn it over, we must wait for His timing.

The third and final aspect of the Waiting Room that Pastor Steve shared was:

3.  The Waiting Room makes our desired outcome feel impossible.

In John 11:38-44 Lazarus was dead for four days by the time Jesus arrived.  Mary and Martha thought, “How can Jesus possibly heal him now?”

This, too, can be reframed:

*  Every crisis is an opportunity for God to receive glory.

I have walked through many, many crises over the years … and have always found ways to give God the glory for His healing or restoration or wisdom.  

In 1983, my doctor told me that I had a 2% chance to ever have children, and that I needed an immediate hysterectomy.  God received the glory when I got pregnant two weeks later … and went on to have 10 babies, before adopting two daughters from Africa.

In 1991, when I had 6 children under 7 years old, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  God received the glory when the lemon-sized tumor was removed and the doctors discovered that God had removed the cancer from the tumor.

In 1999, I was in a car accident with 8 of my children.  We were hit by a semi truck on the freeway.  God received the glory when none of us were seriously injured (though we did have 105 doctors appointments in 5 weeks, for back and neck injuries).

In 2005, my youngest son, Elijah (age 3), was airlifted to Children’s Hospital with bacterial meningitis.  Within 12 hours, we were told to “bring the family”, as he was not expected to live through the night.  God received the glory a week later, when he miraculously came out of his coma, and then came home a week after that.

Yes.  I have seen the hand of God work miracles many, many times in my life; and I have purposed to always give Him the glory.

However … sometimes our Waiting Rooms may last a lot longer, and we may not see how or when we will ever be able to give God the glory.

How do we give God the glory when a son or daughter walks away from everything they were taught growing up? 

How do we give God the glory when family relationships are not restored?

How do we give God the glory if we struggle with an ongoing medical issue?

These waiting rooms can last for a year … or 10 years … or 20.  What then?

As I pondered this message the past week, the Lord showed me that while I had been sitting in a few Waiting Rooms for over 10 years … that I had only been seeing 2 options for outcomes.

If Option #1 happens … then I will give God the glory.

If Option #2 happens … then I will give God the glory.

This past week, God asked me, “What if neither outcome ever happens?  Will you still give Me the glory?”

The Lord told me that I cannot sit in the “If only …” or “What if … ???” rooms. I have sought the Lord for His wisdom and guidance every step of the way these past 12 years.  I heard from Him very clearly, on many occasions.  I know without a doubt that I did not “take the wrong turn”; though, of course, I did take a few steps off of the right path a few times.  

However, this week the Lord told me that I may never see Option #1 or Option #2.  I can still pray.  I can still hope.  But, I need to walk forward and not just “Sit in the Waiting Room” any longer.  It is time for me to get up and walk forward on the new journey that He has for me.  I must learn to give God the glory even if neither outcome comes to pass.

I know that Jesus allowed me to sit in the waiting room; I know that He used my time in the Waiting Room for His good and His purposes.

I know that God allowed me to be in this powerless position for all of these years; I know that He has shown me that in my weakness He is strong.

I am sad that my desired outcomes still feel impossible; but I know that He will show me how to bring glory to Him through this time in His Waiting Room.

Honestly, I am not quite ready to say, “Thank you God for all of these years that you have allowed me to sit in Your Waiting Room.” … yet, I am ready for Him to show me how I can give Him the glory before He shows me the final picture of this most difficult of journeys.

Are you sitting in a never-ending Waiting Room? I would love to come alongside you in prayer.

My Story: A Journey of Faith

I started my ministry, A Journey of Faith, in 1984 … and grew my ministry for 25 years. I loved to write and speak.

I wrote regular columns for two magazines for eight years: “Hearts at Home” and “TEACH: To Encourage & Challenge Homeschoolers”. I also self-published a few booklets and handbooks that I sold at my speaking engagements.

Over the years, I spoke at Women’s Retreats, Family Camps, M.O.P.S. Groups, Mother/Daughter Retreats, Homeschool Conferences, and a wide variety of Women’s Events. At each of my events, I sold my booklets, handbooks, and my “Talks on Tape”. Oh.My! Cassette Tapes. Times have certainly changed …

In 2007, friends encouraged me to start a blog, in order to document our international adoption journey. “I’m Ghana Adopt” was born. I loved this new writing platform, and so enjoyed connecting with adoptive moms around the country and across the world. My topics expanded to include parenting, homeschooling, and budgeting. And, as my blog continued to grow, I shared my journey of faith, talking about hope, faith, and miracles.

In 2009, my world began to crumble, and by 2010 my life had imploded. I put my speaking and writing ministry up on a high shelf, as I focused on survival. Thankfully, I never completely let go of my dreams of rebuilding “A Journey of Faith” … as I continued to pay for my small business website and domain name every year.

Now, twelve years later, I survived. I was left battered and bruised, with a lot of scars; but … I survived. I am now ready to dust off my dreams.

I am excited to start writing again, though I have absolutely no idea what that will look like. I will probably not be “publishing” my books on my comb-binding machine … or selling my cassette tapes at my book tables (though I still have some if any of you have an old cassette player).

I am seeking the Lord for His guidance as I take steps to write the second chapter of my life. I need His wisdom as I move forward … with what to write, where to write, and who to write for. Ultimately, I want to write for Him. I want to share the stories that He has written in my life. I want to share the hope that He has given, as my life fell apart, and as I turned to Him to put it back together.

Over the last twelve years since my life imploded, I kept waiting for life to “get back to normal”. I kept wanting to write and wanting to minister … but I wanted to wait until my life was “put back together”. I kept thinking, “When all of the messy relationships are healed … when all of the pain is gone .. THEN the Lord will use me to minister again.”

But, the Lord has shown me recently that I don’t have to wait. I can write … I can minister … even when life isn’t perfect. In a family with 12 adult children, 7 sons & daughters-in-law, and 18 grandchildren … there may always be a few messy relationships. I can hope and pray for full restoration in every relationship … but I cannot put my life on hold until that happens.

I don’t have to be the perfect mom, in order to minister to other moms.

I don’t have to be the perfect wife, in order to minister to other wives.

I don’t have to be the perfect homeschooler, in order to minister to other homeschoolers.

No. I will never be perfect; God doesn’t expect me to be.

God wants me to humbly seek Him, every.single.day. He wants me to write, in the midst of an imperfect life. He wants me to minister, in the midst of pain and grief.

Today … is the First Day of the 2nd Chapter of my writing life and ministry.

Welcome to my Journey of Faith! Please pray for me, as I start this unexpected yet exciting new journey.