I am a talkative introvert who loves God, All Things Crafty and Julia Child. When in doubt, I suggest trying more prayer, more glue or more butter. I live in Michigan, the home state I adore three seasons out of the year and am thankful for the joy of Christmas in during the fourth.
I am a proud Michigan State Spartan and I like getting my hands dirty in the garden. I solve many of the world’s problems while relaxing with a skein of yarn and a crochet hook, and these two are rarely far from my side.
So what is A Creative Disciple and why Held Together by God’s Grace & a Glue Gun? Following are some thoughts on my tagline.
Tag Line – noun \ˈtag-ˌlīn\ : a memorable phrase or sentence that is closely associated with a particular person, product, movie, etc.
Why the tagline A Creative Disciple? Because calling myself a creative disciple scared me a little (and because Crafty Christian wasn’t quite what I was going for.) So I got on with the business of exploring what it means to be a disciple, at the same time giving myself permission to express whatever I discovered in ways that felt creative to me.
“Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” ~ Philippians 3:12
Short of owning a BeDazzler, I love all the tools of being crafty. Tubes of acrylic paint with names like cadmium yellow and titanium white, beautifully textured paper, scissors that pink and scallop, embroidery floss in a rainbow of colors, and the yarn. Oh, the yarn!
I’ve always loved creating things with my hands. I was the kid who wanted a potholder loom for Christmas or a jewelry making kit for my birthday. The year I got a woodburning pen, the smell of charred wood was in the air for months. Once I started babysitting, I could afford to support my own Michael’s habit. I’d buy an artist’s notepad and a tin of charcoal and go to some picturesque area and sketch away. I made collages out of photos and phrases torn from magazines & catalogs and I painted cards to give as gifts.
It took me no time at all to become completely frustrated with my lack of artistic ability. I’d watch someone mindlessly doodle while talking on the phone and end up with a frame-worthy piece of art. Or I’d see someone pick up a paintbrush and a few minutes later, watch in awe as an entire world came to life on the canvas while I was still cranking out things that looked like they belonged dutifully tacked to the fridge with a magnet.
But did that stop me? Well, sort of, yes. It stopped me from trying to do the things for which I clearly wasn’t gifted and drove me to find ways in which my creativity could be expressed. I stopped trying to create stuff. I stopped trying to go through methodical steps in order to end up with a product.
I discovered the freedom between artistic talent and creative ability. To this day, I can’t draw or paint or sketch or sculpt well. But I still occasionally draw and paint and sketch and sculpt. Because the act of getting my hands involved in almost any creative activity triggers something in my brain that opens up other creative possibilities.
Sometimes that means that I can find some words to string together that I might want to write down. After a while, I find that I might even want other people to read those words. When my brain goes as blank as the brand new page in front of me, my hands can sometimes find another language in which to communicate until the words come again. Ultimately, the creative process has been very healing. More on that later.
Even though I’m not a “bottom line” kind of person, here’s one that speaks my truth:
Not everyone can be artistic, but everyone can be creative.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 2:10
So no, I’m not an artist. But I’m God’s handiwork! And so are you. Seriously, how cool is that?
Disciple is a churchy word. Growing up, Disciple meant the 12 guys in the bible. It evolved slightly into meaning someone much holier than me. Someone who had it all together and prayed 8 hours a day and never got mad or swore. A monk, maybe. Or a nun. Although having gone to Catholic school for six years, I do remember my share of angry nuns. Still, there was no way that I could claim to be a disciple.
Disciples were the ones who did the readings up in front of everyone while I sat there trying to stay focused instead of mentally drifting off. The guy up there looks like the doctor in that movie last night. It’s cold in here, I should’ve brought a sweater. I wonder what’s for lunch. What was that actor’s name?!
Yeah, there’s no way I’d ever be a disciple.
In the gospel of John, Jesus said, “Everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35
Well that’s simple enough, right? Ha! Simple but not easy. Still, it’s something I can wrap my head around, something I can try. And then 3.4 seconds later, when I mumble, “idiot” about the driver who pulls in front of me, I think See? Told you I was no disciple!
The, um, disciple Paul puts it this way:
“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18
No wonder I can’t do it on my own; it comes from the Lord. Much to my instant gratification-loving dismay, it doesn’t come in a big flashy SHAZAM! moment either. We are being transformed. From one degree of glory to another. I don’t know what a degree of glory is but I’m thinking it’s a tiny, tiny piece of a big, giant puzzle.
Still, thank God I don’t have to do this on my own.
That realization, steeped in grace as it is, allows me to say that yes, I am a committed follower – a disciple – of Jesus Christ.
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:18-19
Even so, please don’t pull out in front of me in traffic, I have a long enough way to go, as it is.
My first memory of grace was a prayer before a meal. You know, to say grace.
Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Grace was always a hard concept for me to grasp. I would literally have to sort out in my mind the difference between mercy and grace and repeat it over and over.
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve; mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve.
Then there were the sayings I heard as a child. Upon seeing someone struggle to walk, my grandpa would say, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
There was also the goal of exhibiting “grace under pressure,” which is how Ernest Hemingway described courage.
After a while, grace became a platitude that felt kind of empty.
Imagine my giddiness when Anne Lamott made it so easy for this simple brain to grasp. To summon grace – which she calls “spiritual WD-40” – simply say, “Help!”
That, I could do. Still, I struggled to grasp the concept of what God’s grace actually meant in my life. I only began to understand it when I stopped thinking of it as a “concept” – an idea to try to understand – and began to see it as a gift to accept and experience. I finally got it. But like many of life’s important lessons, it was painful.
Philip Yancey said, “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.” It was only at the lowest part of my life that I allowed grace to flow most abundantly into my life and into my heart.
“Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16
I’m convinced there’s something primal that awakens within me when the September air turns crisp and the leaves begin to explode in crimson, yellow and orange. I feel a tug back indoors that I remember shedding with glee back in May.Something changes as we slide toward the equinox. The days get shorter and I crave the feeling of a warm hoodie on an evening walk. I’m not quite ready for a cup of tea by the fire but there’s an undeniable desire to sit, to nest, to create. Something in my DNA simply must make something. It isn’t just that I want to relax with a good book or a movie; my hands itch to get started on projects.
It’s also rarely about a “ta dah!” end product. I can get just as absorbed covering an old box with a scrap of fabric in order to hold items in the linen closet as I can by making an actual gift for someone. Though it may be hard for non-crafters to relate, creating something gives me a sense of purpose and meaning and it helps me to organize my thoughts.
Like the student who can concentrate better with the distraction of music or tv, I am better able to focus my own thoughts if my hands are just busy enough to keep my mind’s momentum going. Once I begin working on a project, there’s something about the creative process that is both relaxing and energizing. It simply gets my juices going and there is a flow to life.
All of this is true right up until the time when painfully real life events come along and the once soothing process of creating now tears open jagged shards of thoughts and makes everything much, much worse. Once that happens, it’s time to put away your glue gun, maybe for a season, maybe for good.
(Not even in The Message was I able to find a Scripture reference to glue guns.)
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. ~ Amazing Grace, John Newton (1779)