“Find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but you and make it productive. Put the hours in, do it for long enough, and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually.”
–Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity
By now you’ve probably noticed I have a thing for art – both the kind we make with our hands and the kind we live with our lives.
I wrote an entire book about uncovering the art you were made to live because when I talk to people who are made in the stunning and spectacular image of God but genuinely believe they have nothing to offer the world, I get a little twirly inside.
Are you aware of a scrap of a desire deep within you but your first response to it is to toss it aside and label it selfish instead of considering is as sacred?
Or maybe you respect the idea of your art and your desire, but you don’t see any tangible ways to practice it at this stage in your life?
We tend to think we have to have weeks to re-charge, endless open days to plan and prepare, a retreat to re-center and re-focus. Those things will help, for sure. If you get them, soak them up and roll around in the blessing of them. But most of us don’t have the luxury of wide-open days or weekend retreats on any type of regular basis.
So what’s the alternative? Never pursue the art?
What do we do when all the time we get is in whatever drops are left over after wringing out the day? I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t believe it, but Hugh MacLeod is right: beautiful things happen when we take those drops and begin to fill the bucket.
With the first few small efforts, the bucket still looks empty and I’m tempted to think nothing is happening. But that would be a mistake, because every drop saved is one drop closer to full.
It’s true, “full” may not mean fame or attention or accolades. But if you’re open to it, it might just be the first important step to becoming more fully yourself.
Here are 5 ways to begin to fill the bucket in less than an hour:
1. Consider the gifts where you are right now and use your time to write them down.
2. Write (paint, play, bake, create) for 30 minutes. Reject every temptation to believe you are wasting your time.
3. Dare to believe you have something to say and say it out loud.
4. Sit in the quiet just because. A lot more may happen there than you might think.
5. Don’t try so hard to block out the critical voice. Take some time to listen and decide if it’s true. If it isn’t? Dismiss.
Do the work you love when the early morning lifts up her head with a smile and a high-pitched song. Sit at the table and make your art when the evening sky fills up the yard right outside your window. There is no formula and there is no wrong. There is only you, showing up as the person you already are, willing to offer whatever you have, no matter how small.
Go make some art today.
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It’s not to late to join the Bloom Book Club! We’ll be reading A Million Little Ways together starting October 21. Visit the Bloom book page for all the details. If you don’t have a book yet, you may also want to enter your name for the chance to win one. Winners announced on Wednesday – Details on the Bloom book page.
Mel Caldicott says
I love point 3, Emily. Daring to believe I had something to say was what led me to blogging. Big big step of faith but how it has helped me feel whole.
Mel from Connect With God
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
It’s only taken me 50+ years to realize the truth of which you write. God gets me up early every morning to meet with Him and to take some time to just sit and be and let the creative juices flow. I always looked at it as selfish to take time to pursue what I love to do, but now I realize that God can be glorified through my creative efforts. What a great post…may others appreciate this truth at a much earlier age than what I did…
Patti Hough says
This speaks to me in so many ways.
I am happiest when I am creating: wire, paint, paper, writing, sewing, . . . it doesn’t really matter the materials. Time stands still when I am creating. It’s my play time. :0)
However, I have two kids with developmental behavioral issues. A lot of time is spent just surviving a day. There doesn’t seem to be much mom time; no thriving time. Or is it that I don’t think this creative desire is worth the time?
I’m going to begin looking for those moments to do what fills me up. God created me this way AND allows the difficult days. He hasn’t left me, so how can I be all He has made me to be for His glory?
Thanks for the reminder.
Debbie @ Deliciously Inspired says
This is a wonderful post of encouragement to pursue those gifts God has planted in each of us. I used to say I can walk miles with a little baby steps. One of my biggest obstacles was letting go of needing to produce something in one sitting. I really like your suggestion of taking 30 minutes. I’m going to share this post on my blog’s face book page. I’ll try to tag you.
Karen Sawyer says
I”m 57 and I always joke with younger people who seem to be struggling with what they should do. I say, “Don’t worry, I still don’t know what I want to do or be when I grow up either.” Unfortunately, it’s a bit true. When my kids were home, I always had an excuse that I was too busy but now that my last child has left the nest, I’m left wondering if or can I do what I have dabbled in for years. Write. As I was lying in bed last night, once again I asked God if I should pursue this writing thing or if I’m just fooling myself. I struggle with how or if God has given me any creative gifts. So…. I think the book would be wonderful. Thanks for the opportunity to win one. Blessings and thanks for a great blog.
LeAnn C. says
I am so glad you wrote this and that I read it! I’ve always felt like pursuing artistic activities was selfish and “wasting” time. There’s always something that needs to be done that is “more important”. I need to learn more about how pursuing art can glorify God and point others to Him.
It’s amazing how a little here and a little there can lead to something HUGE! Look at Scripture – that’s how God does things in His people!!!! There is definitely something to that pattern. 🙂
Glad you found your thing to get all twirly about! Thanks for taking all this time to share it sooo well. I’m beginning to see. I’m beginning to find my art, my own thing that makes me twirly inside. Better yet, I’m begining to get the courage to LIVE it, to be free and alive because I’m see God is the one who gave it to me in the first place.
So, here a little, there a little. I’ll see and grow and over time my art may just become really there for people around me to see.
Just asked God this morning to help me make the minutes (drops) count. After 13 years of have-a-child-at-home, I’m ready for the next phase but also know how quickly these days pass. Great encouragement to make my art in between games of Memory and Tag.
“There is only you, showing up as the person you already are, willing to offer whatever you have, no matter how small.”
Joanne Peterson says
After reading the post today, I have decided to read the book. I have already felt a tug on my heart. I am 52 and didn’t really pursue actively the artistic side.
I used to in my teens paint, draw, use charcoal, and write. My dad said artists can’t make a living, so I quit pursuing the artistic side of me at all and I believed him, crushed and discouraged. After about ten years it came out in artistic food arrangements, and gourmet cooking.
But, I have felt a restless stirring for a few years to pursue more. I have two small children with our second family, and am very interested in how to see this in our daily life, and pursue it. I encouraged this artistic side with my daughter and my son who are now grown in our first round family. I want to encourage this creativity with my two little guys in our second round family, and this time I want to encourage this expanding artistic expression with me too.
emily freeman says
I’m so encouraged to read this from you, Joanne. Maybe all people can’t make a living with their art, but maybe making our art is a necessary part of making a life.
May it be true for you.
A stranger to you, Joanne, but standing along with Emily in what she said. Encouragement to you today!
Marinalva Sickler says
“Beautiful things happen when we take those drops and begin to fill the bucket.” Add that to “Dare to believe you have something to say and say it loud, plus “reject every temptation to believe you are wasting your time.” Freeman shook my brain! I wrote down in my journal that I am not accepting excuses to sit down every day for 30 minutes and work on my blog and writings. Greater is He who is with me to work and perfect whatever I believe He has given to me. Go! Like at my church book reading group purpose for this season: Gather Grow Go. Thanks Emily for shaking my brain.
I just like to write about God. I just love to write write and write more about what God is saying to me, all the time.
But thanks anyways for your good ideas.
I love to dream. Dream about JESUS.
Caroline Starr Rose says
I finished your beautiful book last night and couldn’t help thinking what a gift it would have been to me 15 years ago when I was trying this writing-thing all alone. Thank you for speaking into my life now…and to the person who I was when I just started out on this journey.
I love this encouragement! I am a mommy to very little ones, so I just snatch a few moments at a time while I sit and write during their naptimes. I want to do more, to publish, to share my writing (other than once a week on my blog) but I see this season of my life as a time to practice, to hone my craft so that I am ready when my very little ones are not quite so little and don’t need me in such a hands-on sort of way anymore.
If I can be faithful with this little drop of time that I have in this season of my life, I believe God will honor that and help me to grow even more into who He intended for me to be once I have more time than I know what to do with!
“every drop saved is one drop closer to full.” I need to believe this today.
It’s amazing to see how Father is convincing me at my age (56), that I am his art and he wants to show me the art he has in me. Look forwarding to reading “a million little ways”.
Kerry Robinson says
I would so like to spend my time creating, and somehow I always leave my creative self at the end of the list of selves I feel I need to be. I would like to read A Million Little Ways to uncover my true self, the self God made me, and to get back to creating!!
can’t tell you how timely this is, emily. just this morning, i was processing with the Lord my discouragement of not being able to spend the time i long to putting His precious thought to me on my blog. when all of life is survival mode, survival must take precedence. so thank you for encouraging me to give myself the freedom to capture even the drops, rather than dismiss them simply because they’re not the whole bucket.
Patty Muich says
I have your book clutched in my hands and have joined the Book Club. I am so excited it is almost too hard to sit here and type 🙂 I was raised being told that I could do NOTHING right. There was only one way and it certainly was not my way 🙂 That was my mom (bless her heart that is all she knew). And then I turned right around, when I broke away from her, and married someone just like her. 20 more years of negativity! I have been divorced for 12 years and I am just starting to creep out of my cocoon. Some day I will be a BEAUTIFUL butterfly 😉 (I think that is from the movie Ants). Needless to say… I am hungry for God and your book!
Love for you and yours!
Kendra Burrows says
Your words are always so uplifting, Emily! Thanks for them. They are pleasant and calming as I watch the twirly thing spin on my computer screen.
How much you create, too, Emily, when you encourage others to create. You’ve said to me before how you love when people break out a list, and so I say it back to you now 🙂 A great bite sized encouragement to choose art today!
I am so excited about this book! It comes at a time when I’m in the last throws of my Phd program and feel I have very little time for ‘that side’ of me. Going to be a good time At The Barn!
On a side note: I grew up 1 hour south of the Quad Cities and lived there as an adult for almost ten years. I’m in Greensboro now working on this PhD. Strange coincidence! 🙂
Everything about this post makes my heart sing.
Love every point.
So, so good.
I rarely feel the need to re-read blog posts. I’ll be rereading this one.
Emily… I cant wait to begin your book!
#2… the resisting the temptation to believe I’m waiting my time….hard… but oh how i want to!
Perfect timing, just starting to carve out a place and time to create in my little world. Looking forward to growing with other children of God. Here’s to the struggle of rejecting the guilt and shame that doesn’t come from Him.
Lisa Spidle says
I am so looking forward to reading this book. I’ve just begun this journey of writing. I feel so called by God to share my story, that perhaps someone out there needs to hear it. But do you know the one thing I am most looking forward too? Seeing God, hearing Him and seeing Him work. Not just for others, but learning more about Him myself. What I can give isn’t much (at least in my eyes) but to see Him use it will be amazing.
Thank you Emily, for following God’s direction.
Rachel H says
I can’t wait to read this book! Emily, your words have been such an encouragement to me.
Deb Mays says
Thanks I needed those words of encouragement! Just a few minutes a day really makes a difference in how I feel about my project and myself. Noah didn’t build the ark in a day, but I’m sure he worked on it each day, for years. A true labor of love!
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Beth Williams says
Love your writing style. Thanks for the encouragement. Number 1 was a little hard until I read number 2 about cooking/baking. I absolutely love to cook/bake for people. It thrills me to see the reaction to my meals/dishes.
I never thought of cooking/baking as an art form, but it is a truly wonderful gift from God.
Thanks for encouraging women!
Janis Cox says
Excellent article and it looks like a wonderful resource book. Great for Tweets too. And I actually made a homemade pumpkin pie this year (with a group of young moms). Even though I can’t eat it my family thoroughly enjoyed it. Best pie ever is what I heard.
I am an artist and can’t wait to get the book and join you at Bloom.
Hope the book comes in time.
Thanks for offering this opportunity for me to take time out of my very busy life & do something for myself in a positive, inspired way. It’s been a long time since I have even read a book but I’m up to the challenge to do something productive for myself! This is a start…to saying YES to ME!
I love this post today and good suggestions : )