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Cultivating Creative Motherhood

As a creative mother who in turns wants to nurture creative children, I want to cultivate a home that allows time for creativity.

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“I don’t know how you do it,” she said as I walked my friend towards the door. “Homeschooling, four kids, writing…” her voice trailed away.

I didn’t know what to say. Instead I felt uncomfortable and said lamely, “Well, it keeps me busy!”

But that was the third time someone had said something similar to me in a month. I’m not wonder woman. I don’t have amazing multitasking skills. I don’t want people to think I do. I don’t do more or better than any other woman who juggles children, work, home, and extra-curricular activities.

But I have made creativity a priority, even after I became a mother. I don’t want to look back over my life and say, “I wish I made more time for _______ instead of washing dishes and doing laundry.”

Whether you identify yourself as a “creative type” or not, everyone is creative in some aspect of their life. As a Christian I believe God made us in His image. He is the ultimate Creator. When we use our creative talents for expression and problem solving we are imaging God, and so it is little wonder we find the act of creating so satisfying. When we create, we image God by crafting beauty, displaying truth, fulfilling a service, or doing good in the world on behalf of others.

But not everyone feels the need to be creative. I’m not writing this article to make you feel guilty if you aren’t a person who desires to have a creative outlet. I’m not advocating adding one more thing to your to-do list or for you to get less sleep than you already do. But if you identify yourself as someone yearns to express yourself creatively but struggle to find time or make time for it in your life, I’m writing this to encourage you.

Make it a Priority

Creativity looks different for different people. For some it may be a source of income — a full-time job. For others it may simply be a way to unwind. It could be graphic design or knitting, or baking. It could be gardening or playing music in a community orchestra. It could be something you do for just your family, like scrapbooking memories. It could be something you create for a client, like presenting a gallery of images from a photography session or running an Etsy shop.

Whatever “it” is, if we don’t make such endeavors a priority, they could very well simply remain a desire, not a reality.

The first step in making time for a creative project is acknowledging mentally that’s a priority. That it is important to you.

Once I became a work-at-home-mom, this has looked different for me over the years. First, it was doing graphic design and creating logos for small businesses. Then it morphed into portrait photography for about five years. And through all of those artistically visual pursuits, I was always writing.

I’m a naturally creative person but also a very organized one. In one sense, creating is like breathing to me. As a kid I carried sketchbooks around with me to draw and write in any spare moment I had. I’m also naturally good at time management. This is not always true for creative folks. Sometimes we can be a very disorganized lot. Once I acknowledge I want to make a creative endeavor a priority, the next step is organizing my time in such a way that it can actually happen.

Set Aside Time

Cultivating Creative MotherhoodIf our creative pursuits also coincide with our career, then making time to complete them may happen naturally. If not, it may be harder to find time for creativity. But whether this is time set aside daily or weekly or monthly, if we believe it’s important, we need to find time to cultivate that interest.

For me this has meant setting aside a few hours during most weekday afternoons. These hours have been the times I’ve worked on client logos, photos, or written articles for publication. But a commitment to these jobs has also meant less play dates when my kids were little. It has meant less extra curricular activities for the kids if they fall into that time slot. It means not spending that time cleaning or doing laundry. Generally speaking, I’ve kept that work time as a sacred space because I’m not super woman. I can only do so much each day. My husband supports my work and we work together to make dinner and do other household chores.

There will be times that certain pursuits do go by the wayside. Our abilities and the time we have will fluctuate with the seasons of life we are in. Sometimes we can do more, sometimes less. For instance, with my commitment to homeschooling and the fact that I have a three-month-old baby, I am not doing photography for clients at the moment. And if I am not finding my value in what I do but instead who I am, I will be less likely to struggle with guilt and comparison. When I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how I spend my time I have peace — even if my days look different than other mothers I know.

Create Together

Creativity can also be something I use to build memories and relationship with my children. I involve them in my interests. And in turn, I just might ignite their own creative passions.

Granted, when I’ve been on deadline to have pictures processed for a client, I can’t involve my kids. But we can learn about nature by drawing leaves gathered on a walk. We can bake together to take cookies to our neighbors. I can teach my daughter how to knit when she sits beside me and asks me to teach her. I can talk to my kids about how plants grow as we get seeds in the ground for a summer garden. I can introduce them to different musical styles if I play an instrument.

As a creative mother who in turns wants to nurture creative children, I want to cultivate a home that allows time for creativity. Not just for my kids, but for myself.

Resources:

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule
Soule’s book is brimming with inspiration about how to involve the whole family in living a creative life.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life by Edith Schaeffer
Schaeffer demonstrates how to infuse creativity into every aspect of life. This books is less about homemaking in the way you might assume but more about creativity.

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Danielle Ayers Jones is wife to an amazing husband and mother to three. She's a writer and photographer, combining both loves on her blog, danielleayersjones.com. A space where she seeks to find beauty in everyday places, joy in hardship, rest in the struggle, and encouragement in unexpected places. She's also written for Thriving Family, Clubhouse, Jr., iBelieve.com, StartMarriageRight.com, and FortheFamily.org. You can follow Danielle on Instagram here and Pinterest here.

3 Comments
  • Amy Kannel

    This is such a struggle for me. Unlike you, perpetual failures in time management are the sad history of my entire adult life. So I end up caught in a cycle of feeling overwhelmed, escaping, and being ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Then there are also SO many creative things I’d *like* to do that I have a hard time figuring out what’s *best* for me to be doing.

    I appreciate your honest zeal and your practical suggestions here. Great reminders about imaging God and where we find our identity, too.

    • I can identify with you in that there are so many things I’d *like* to do that I too can have a hard time figuring out what’s *best* to do. I’ve been having an idea for an Etsy shop floating around in my head for a while, but I DO know that now is not the best time for that. ;) I think time management is actually a problem for many creative folks. So many ideas, so hard to focus on just one or two.

  • This is something that the Lord has really been putting on my heart lately. He keeps pinging me on the parable of the Talents and how He wants His children to do their best with what He has given to them, and not to bury things in fear. For me, this means getting serious about my blogging/writing and working towards bringing to fruition my desire to be a life coach to really impact lives in a personal way. These things capture the fullness of who He made me to be, which does not neglect also my roles and blessed places of wife and mother. It is really hard to transition into making these things a priority, because I can easily struggle with being selfish and feel like I’m putting myself above my family, but then I have to go all “life coachy” on myself and talk like I would to anyone else: “Julie, there is nothing sinful or selfish about wanting to use all your talents and gifts. If your family is fed, clothed, warm, and loved, then you’re doing what is desired. Even if their every “want” is not met, that is okay, because sometimes kids want what they do not truly need. Keep seeking the Lord for wisdom and guidance and take everything one little day at a time. He will help you navigate the road…don’t get ahead of Him.” Truly, I would never think anyone was selfish for wanting to express their total being, while also balancing home and family life. I adore the Proverbs 31 woman as a great example of this. She had balance DOWN! And, I know that neither she, nor we, will always get it perfectly right, but the whole point is to learn to lean on God for wisdom while walking in obedience to His design and Ways. =0) Thanks for the encouragement today! Shalom!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Cultivating Creative Motherhood

by Danielle Ayers Jones time to read: 4 min
3