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photo-1452802447250-470a88ac82bcA good friend recently gifted me with an adult coloring book, something that has become hugely popular within the past few years.  The beautiful part about it is since we are only coloring the pictures and not actually drawing them, we can all appear to be artists of sorts.

Added features of this new fad are that it releases stress, aids in meditation and helps stimulate the brain.  Now when the grandkids come over and pull out their coloring books I can bring out my own set of pencils and book and together we can create our masterpieces.  

I believe there is something within all of us that desires to create.  And I believe that “something” is a part of God Himself which He pours into us while we are still being formed.

“In the beginning GOD CREATED. . .”  (Genesis 1:1)  It’s His very first recorded action.  It’s part of who He is and what He does.  And when we come to Him with our broken selves He has the ability to create inside of us something beautiful as well.

I believe there is something within all of us that desires to create.

Following his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, comes this request from a humbled King David, CREATE in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:10)   The Creator, who gave us life in the beginning, excels at creating new life within and at bringing beauty to the ashes of our lives.

Because we are created in His very image and likeness, we all possess creative instincts and longings.  Painters, musicians, sculptors, writers, architects and chefs alike all derive pleasure from their specific creations.  It’s important to find and celebrate what it is that brings you that particular kind of joy.

Last week I attended the Hemingway Writers Retreat sponsored by a grant from Arkansas State University.  For five days I gathered with novelists, poets and a variety of other authors to learn more about the craft of writing.  Our group was amazingly varied.  Everything from a female truck driver who publishes romance novels to a young and very hip screenwriter to a Catholic priest who is also a poet.  The individuality of their artistic expressions was one of the highlights of the week for me.

 The Creator, who gave us life in the beginning, excels at creating new life within and at bringing beauty to the ashes of our lives.

I appreciate creativity in all of its forms and love that many churches are now incorporating the creative arts into their programming.  They consider it a form of worship and some even have designated spaces where people can go to paint, draw, write or engage in other creative endeavors as they feel inspired.

I remember as a small child accompanying my mother to the weekly quilting session the ladies in our church enjoyed.  Collectively they planned the design, the colors and the motif of each quilt and then lovingly stitched them together.  I still own and display one of those quilts which the women gave to my mother as a gift.  It speaks to me of history and heritage.  It is also a beautiful example of collaborative creativity.img_0263

Creativity has many varied expressions.  One of my friends has amazing culinary skills.  She not only makes delectable dishes but her presentation of them also becomes a work of art.  I am always amazed by her creativity in the kitchen and so very happy when I get to sample her delicious food.

My sister is a skilled seamstress (a creative gene that passed me by).  She began sewing complicated patterns when she was just a young teen, learned to knit at an early age, decided to make her boyfriend a sport coat when she was in college (yes, he married her!) opened up her own drapery business when she lived in Colorado and last Christmas sat up late at night sewing doll clothes for her granddaughters.  That gene was completely left out of my DNA!

It’s important to find and celebrate what it is that brings you that particular kind of joy.

I did, however, love to stitch words together and had my first poem published in our city newspaper when I was in the third grade.  I have always loved writing so while my sewing savvy sister was able to create wearable fashion for both of us when we were in high school, I was able to help her create an English composition worthy of at least a B by the time she handed it in.  We definitely celebrated each other’s creativity!

As we’re considering Christmas gifts for our children and grandchildren this season, let me suggest choices that encourage creativity.  There are seeds of greatness inside each of us waiting for the chance to bloom.

When she was a young child, Theresa Cates’ father was extremely abusive to both her and her mother.  By the time she started school he had knocked all of her front teeth out.  Supplied with only crayons and paper, Theresa began drawing as an escape from her environment.   Those early drawings were the foundation of the art which now appears in a prominent local gallery.

Completely self-taught, Theresa’s work is distinctly her own.  Most of her paintings are of stylized African-American men and women often praising God.  I have two of her paintings hanging in my home.  Their vibrance and originality speak to me of a strong woman for whom creativity was once a means of survival but has since become a celebration!

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I have heard it said that “The talents God gives us are His gifts to us.  What we make of them is our gift to God.”  Your creative expressions are also a gift to those around you and to the world in which you live.  Enjoy them.  Relish them.  Celebrate and give thanks for every creative fiber in your being!  

And now back to my coloring book. . .