For the next 31 days in the month of October, I'm taking part in a writing challenge hosted by several bloggers that I follow. The idea is to write for 31 days on a topic of your choice.
After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to write about what it's like being a Christian that is creative and enjoys making art. Honestly, there are times when these two things feel at odds, so I'm planning on sharing the joys and struggles of being a creative Christian.
You can check out each post here:
Day 1: A Follower of Christ First
Day 2: Imperfect Artist, Imperfect Art
Day 3: The Gift of Creativity
Day 4: Cinemagogue
Day 5: The Creative Sabbath
Day 6: I am a Sub-Creator
Day 7: All is Vanity
Day 8: Nothing New Under the Sun
Day 9: The Impermanence of Created Things
Day 10: An Endless Cycle
Day 11: The Explicit Gospel
Day 12: Resting When There is Much to Do
Day 13: Freedom From the Fear of Artistic Failure
Day 14: Who is My Art For?
Day 15: Creating for Myself
Day 16: Creating for Others
Day 17: Creating for God
Day 18: Crazy Busy
Day 19: Rest For Your Soul
Day 20: Defining Creative
Day 21: God Before My Art
Day 22: Creative Links
Day 23: The Artistry of the Seasons
Day 24: Running Low On Creativity
Day 25: Storybook Bibles
Day 26: Entering God's Rest
Day 27: Navigating Creative Content
Day 28: Who Is King? God or Creative Content?
Day 29: Creative Content For the Glory of God
Day 30: Content that Edifies
Day 31: Leaning on God's Wisdom and Understanding
Feel free to let me know what you think of this series! I love feedback!
I have some scary but exciting news to share. This October, I will be participating in a community blogging event called 31 Days, which is a writing challenge for the month of October.
I follow several bloggers (they're mainly home decor blogs) that take part in this challenge every year, and I always love seeing how their blogs grow through this challenge.
Essentially, a blogger chooses a topic of choice and writes about it every day for the month of October. The idea, as a writer, is to go deeper into one topic. As a reader, the reader gets to learn a lot about this one topic.
When I first published this blog earlier this year, I knew that I wanted to take part in this challenge, but I had no idea what my topic would be. After a lot of thought and prayer, I started thinking about things that the Lord has gifted me in, things that I could share with others, or even topics that I have specialized knowledge in. (I kind of laughed at that one because I feel like I'm too young to have specialized knowledge in anything).
But then I started to think about topics that God puts on my heart a lot.
And then it hit me.
Something I think a lot about is the internal struggle that comes from being a Christian that is a creative, an artist.
Honestly, I have a lot to confess about the struggles and joys of what it looks like to be a creative Christian.
So I decided to tackle this topic for the month of October: what does it look like to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, and also have the desire and the gifting to create works of art.
My hope is that as I go deeper into this challenge, that some truth would be revealed and that others would be encouraged. But I also hope that I will learn more about what it means to be a creative Christian and the joy that comes from it.
So that's it. 31 Days. Confessions of a Creative Christian. Holla'
I hope that you join me on this journey for the month of October, whether you're a creative yourself or just someone that enjoys created things.
So get ready, because October 1st is days away! Let the challenge begin!
I'm sure you've heard of the old adage, "No use crying over spilled milk." Essentially this phrase means there is no point in getting upset over something that you had no control over.
This past week, I learned this lesson in a very hands on way. I spilled tea... all over my MacBook laptop.
If you're a Mac owner, you know that a spill is often the kiss of death.
As I knocked the bottle of tea over, this reality hit me. My innocent bottle of unsweetened tea would be the death of my Mac.
And the weird thing? I was okay with it.
I was resigned.
This is due mainly to the fact that over the past few weeks God has been doing everything in His power to make me trust Him, and this spill just felt like another test refining my faith.
But another part of it was recognizing the reality that my computer was bound to die someday.
So why would I cry? Why would I be upset?
I decided there was no use crying over spilled tea.
I trusted God. If He wanted my computer to work again, it would work. If He didn't want my computer to work again, it wouldn't work.
At first, it didn't work. My keyboard seemed to be shot, but a friend was able to repair my computer. The tea mainly damaged the connection between the keyboard and the motherboard. Since the connector was cleaned, it has worked pretty much the same.
It has a few glitches here and there, but it works. It's only by the grace of God because frankly, the damage could have been far worse (I spilled a whole lotta tea).
In the midst of tea spills or other seemingly chaotic situations, God has put Scripture and verses on my heart that remind me to trust Him. Here are just a few of them:
"We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
All of Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Me makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
God is good, even after a tea spill. These verses show His goodness and that if anyone can be trusted, it's Him.
While a tea spill on a computer is not advantageous, the Lord showed me His goodness through it.
And I will definitely not be leaving an opened bottle of tea by my laptop again anytime soon.
Every now and then I come across a song that really ministers to my soul in a profound way. The Lord speaks to me through a lot of things: his Word, movies, books, and music.
He usually presents me with things at just the right moment, and the song Fix My Eyes by Kings Kaleidoscope came at the eleventh hour, just when I needed to be reminded to fix my eyes whole heartedly on the lover of my soul, Jesus.
The lyrics and the music really ministered to my soul, and I hope that they minister to your soul too. Take a read and definitely take a listen to the song linked above.
When my heart is weary, when my soul is weak
When it seems I can't traverse the trail before me
I survey the glory of your agony
And I find the will to fight for what's before me
Cause you ran the race, enduring for your glory.
I fix my eyes on you, the founder and the finisher of our faith
I fix my eyes on you, the solace in your suffering is my strength
As I fight to follow, you're my righteous guide
And you train me to delight in all that's holy
Heal my broken body, cure my crooked stride
Throw off every weight and sin that clings so closely
I will run the race, enduring for your glory
You help me breathe, you're the only life I need
You died for me, you're the only life I need
You help me breathe, you're the only life I need
You died for me, you're the only life I need.
For my senior year of college, I am required to take an English course in order to graduate. The point of this English course is mainly preparing individuals to be literate members of society, so we spend a lot of time talking about literacy and writing.
Last week, we read an article by George Orwell, the author of 1984, called "Why I Write". In this article, Orwell suggests that there are four primary motives for writing:
After a pretty intense class discussion, it's apparent that Orwell is onto something. My entire class could not come up with a single motive for writing that doesn't fall into one of these categories.
But the interesting thing about the discussion was that it forced me to think about my own writing. Why do I write? Why do I spend time writing things on this blog?
Is it out of a selfish motivation? Is it because I'm making art through writing? Is it to record the things going on in my life for later? Or is it to push an agenda?
If I'm honest, it's a little bit of all of those things. But for the most part, the motivation of writing on this blog centers around an agenda.
On this blog, my "agenda" is to share how I've seen Jesus at work in the culture and environment around me, and how believing the Gospel and knowing Jesus affects how I interpret the world and engage culture.
But my other agenda or rather hope is that this blog would be an encouraging place. That it would make you laugh, smile, or just think. That maybe you would be able to relate with the things that I write. That maybe you would even meet God through the words He puts on my heart.
All art has a political agenda.
This blog is a work of art.
Ergo, it serves a purpose.
But in the end, it's all for the glory of God.
In modern culture, the word "refinement" is a word that we don't use a lot. We throw around the word perfection, but never refinement.
Refinement by definition means
While working on the poster for my senior thesis group project, I started thinking about refinement.
I originally made a first draft of the poster, which is the first photo below, and I was pretty satisfied with it at first. But when I showed it to a friend, she graciously admitted that it looked like I made it in Paint, which made me want to tweak it and make it better.
So I made alterations.
A tweak here.
A tweak there.
More white here.
Less white here.
I made a bunch of drafts, and after each one, I tweaked some more. Even after I came up with a concept that I was pretty satisfied with, my team had ideas that made the poster even better. So I tweaked once again.
Over the course of a day, the poster was refined and improved multiple times. It is now in a place where it feels finished and final.
But it struck me how the refinement of an idea and a piece of art is similar to the refinement of a person's faith.
At first, we think things look great.
And then there's something that could be better. Something that could be tweaked. Something that could be changed. We are constantly being refined. But we never reach perfection (in this life anyway).
For the Christian, God is constantly refining us and our faith. It's hard and sometimes it hurts, but ultimately He's removing our rough edges and making us more like Jesus. Our refinement makes our faith stronger.
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1: 6-8
Faith, like an idea or a piece of art, improves and is strengthened from refinement. A faith that stands the test of refinement, trials, and fire, is worthy of praise when we meet Jesus face to face.
Refinement is a beautiful thing. In some ways, it's even an art.
Below is evidence of the refinement of the poster for my group film. While I thought that the first draft was the "bees knees" , I now think that it's kind of laughable. Feel free to take a gander and enjoy the art of refinement.
You can also learn more about the production of this film here.
And the final product...
"Pieces of culture"
Fall Afresh: I'm really loving this worship song right now by Bethel Music and Jeremy Riddle.
Emma Approved: I just discovered that the people that made The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (which is a web-series on youtube that modernizes Pride and Prejudice) also made a modernization of Emma. It's a very interesting approach to Emma. If you want to check out The Lizzie Bennet Diaries that's here.
Building 429: I just saw this band in concert this past weekend. They're great musicians, and they have some really great songs.
The Art of Simple Travel: This woman and her family are spending a year traveling all over the world. You can check out this blog and follow along as she prepares her family for departure and then for posts about their time abroad.
The Umbrella Man: A short documentary about The Umbrella Man, a conspiracy theory about the Kennedy assassination. The man's thoughts really mirror Scripture:
Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Foreign cultures fascinate me, and my friend Dara spent her summer in Denmark studying abroad. So I asked her to share some of her experiences in Denmark and among the Danes. Enjoy.
Let me preface this post by saying that this was my first time out of the United States. I was a part of a study abroad program put together by my University for its Master’s students in the summer before their last year. That’s the main reason I picked this program for Interior Architecture. I would be spending seven weeks overseas, immersed in a culture unlike my own. Six of those weeks would be at our home base of Copenhagen, Denmark and one week was taken to do a study tour, visiting Norway and Sweden.
Being a city girl, I adjusted pretty quickly when I got over there. I became acclimated to their metro system which became my main source of transportation, along with the bus, but I loved the metro more. Since I rarely use underground transit in the city that I’m from, I took the opportunity to use this beautiful, clean and fairly new mode of transit.
Now, for those of you who are not familiar with the happiest city on Earth, a healthy portion of the population rides bikes (and by healthy, I mean 75%). There are bike lanes all throughout the city, and the bikes even come with car seats for your little ones! Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered the art of riding a bike yet, so I used public transit, which definitely made me feel more like a city/local girl.
There are two big rules when using the metro:
1) Always get to the right of the escalator.
Whether you’re going down or going up, there is always going to be someone rushing to get to their train or get to their next destination.
2) Don’t be loud.
Danes are very much a refined set of people (at least until about 10pm), and being loud will get you nowhere with them, except for some strong side eyes coming your way.
Another mode of transit that I had the pleasure of experiencing is a ferry. Copenhagen does have a canal system that you’re able to explore via the ferry or you can take the tourist route and do an actual canal tour in which you’re able to see the major sites of Copenhagen.
While I was away, I had to remind myself constantly that I was in the capital city. There are no skyscrapers over there. But there is medieval, classical architecture. That’s something that I miss the most about Denmark.
Schools, retail stores and even restaurants occupy these classic buildings, and people living right on top of them. This doesn't bother a lot of Danes because most of the stores close at around five or six because they actually want to get home to their family and friends and live their lives. I respect that so much.
One of the hardest challenges was meeting some Danes.
Danes are very reserved and can come off cold. Small talk does not exist in Denmark which is one thing America relishes in. Danes can speak English as they are taught from a very early age in school. I was able to meet a wonderful woman at the church I was attending who opened up once I told her that I was studying abroad from America. My suggestion if you want to make friends with the Danes, frequent the same coffee shop or restaurant or whatever else you like to do. You won’t find people wanting to talk to you out of the blue, say on the Metro or on the bus, but once you become familiar to someone, they’ll begin to open up.
If you want to know some more of my personal experience for my first time overseas, I made some Youtube videos you can check out here.
For something more in depth, head on over to my blog: www.brknground.wordpress.com. Check out the Breaking Ground section, and you’ll find all of the posts telling of my fears, triumphs and amazing food that was had overseas.
Eat Well & Travel Often.
This weekend, an event took place on Penn State's campus called Invasion PSU. The facebook event for Invasion read:
Invasion Fest is simple: We are a group of students that want to party hard, radically love others and show University Park that God still has a plan and purpose for everyone. Har Megiddo will be performing along with a few other local DJs in the area. The Smeal Business Building Lawn is the place to be August 30th! DON'T MISS OUT!
Afterwards, Jonathan Shuttlesworth will be sharing a message of hope and forgiveness with Penn State.
Sounds like a good time, right?
The event was presented as a good time, a party with great music and DJs and maybe even a little God or message thrown in. This is the vibe that the event presented.
The real vision of this event was essentially creating a rave or party-like atmosphere, enticing people that are normally drawn to the party scene and then presenting them with a Gospel message at the end.
For many involved it probably sounded like a great idea. Create an enticing atmosphere and then when you have all of the people BAM! Share Jesus with them. How could the people not accept Jesus after spending an hour dancing to music with some Christian songs thrown in?
BUT that's not what happened.
After a lot of thinking and praying, I decided to go to this event. And the reason I was hesitant and prayed about it was because I felt like the people organizing the event were being dishonest (creating an event meant to evangelize when they were advertising it to be almost like a party) and because the event didn't seem to be really focused on Jesus.
But I decided to go. Primarily because I just wanted to observe and also because I wanted to see how God would use the event, despite my doubts and feelings.
The event started at 7:30. And around 7:45, there were only around a hundred people on the field in front of the stage. Honestly, it felt like a joke. So much planning and promotion had gone into this event, and there was hardly anyone there.
The only people there were the volunteers and people that had heard about the event from Christian fellowships on campus. These few were dancing like you would at your cousin's wedding, just having a fun time being goofy dancing to techno.
But as the sun went down, the crowd changed drastically. The music did in fact draw them in, and the area in front of the stage became packed. People were dancing, throwing water, hoisting people into the air, trying to start a body mosh pit, yelling, you name it.
After a few minutes of this, the group that I was with decided to leave the crowd, and I was relieved. Mainly, I didn't want to get knocked over by people trying to mosh pit, but also something that had started off as being fun and innocent escalated pretty quickly.
As my group left the area, I started thinking about the people that were dancing and pretty much raving in front of the stage. These people had been drawn in by the music. Most of them were not Christians. Most of them had probably never heard the Gospel. And I had a suspicion that as soon as the music and the fun ended, they would be out, ready to go to the next party.
The group of ladies that I was with decided to get food, and we waited to go back until right before the speaker would share the "message of hope and forgiveness," which is pretty much a code phrase for sharing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. So we walked back a few minutes before the speaker was brought on stage.
At this point, the crowd had grown a lot. People were throwing water, some were crowd surfing, some were smoking electronic cigarettes, and some were doing things that I'd rather not mention on this blog.
And then, the music stopped.
The M.C. came on stage and introduced the speaker.
And a mass exodus occurred.
All of these people that had spent their night dancing to the music were no longer interested. The music and fun stopped, so they were moving on.
I stood with the group of ladies in the back of the field and watched with utter sadness and dismay as people walked away, choosing not to hear a message that brings life.
The speaker took the stage and faithfully preached the Gospel. He shared how God had saved him and called him to share the message of Christ with others. He preached a message of hope and forgiveness, that man's sins had separated him from God, but Jesus's death and resurrection on the cross had reconciled man with God and atoned for all of mankind's sins. And because of this, mankind can receive the gift of eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ.
The speaker faithfully shared the Gospel, but as he spoke more and more people walked away until only a small group remained at the end.
The event ended very differently from what some people had hoped. A thousand people weren't saved. The event depicted what the Bible predicted:
"For many are invited but few are chosen."
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
2 Timothy 4:3-4
Not everyone will become Christians. Not everyone will be saved. Not everyone will have eternal life.
It is a hard teaching.
Many are invited but few are chosen.
Few will ever make the choice.
Many will walk away.
Many will listen to the world.
Many will live for their own desires and passions.
And for many, having an event that seems cool will not be enough to entice them to give their lives to Jesus.
Look at Jesus' ministry.
Jesus preached to huge crowds, but most of the people he preached to didn't want what he was offering. What they wanted were the miracles and the blessings.
The people that were really impacted by Jesus were the people that had genuine relationships with him. These people were the twelve disciples, the men in his inner circle.
Even then, one of the twelve betrayed Jesus.
While I'm sure God used Invasion PSU for his purposes, I think one of the things that it really showed me is that all are truly invited, but few will choose Jesus. While it was hard to watch the events of Invasion PSU, I'm glad that I went, and I praise God for how he used the event, even if only one person was saved.
Hey There! I'm Madi,
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She Laughs Without Fear