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En(courage)ment for hard times, God Speaking


In my house, if you look around, on any given Wednesday, you’ll find a lot of homemade and handcrafted. Our whole family is creative. Art supplies, sewed, knitted, crocheted and quilted textiles, paintings, photography, scratch ingredients for cooking, costumes, sketches and models. Completed projects, lists, patterns and paintbrushes and pottery, experiments and works in progress. These are our decor. We like to make things. It is a gift. Sometimes I take this for granted. Sometimes I walk into other people’s homes and there is such a lack of creativity and expression and personality that I am suddenly aware anew that it is a bestowed gift to live and desire a creative, colorful, handmade life. To have the craftsman heart and hands.

For the people who live in those homes, perhaps the thing they take for granted is something else. An athletically talented family or a big, loving extended family. An excellent mind or musical ability. Intuition for counseling others. Discernment. Maybe it is an ease with public speaking or foreign languages, a love for teaching, or a high level of charisma. I know people with all of these gifts. I can’t sing or dance, I’m not an extrovert, and I hate public speaking, so I’m always slightly mesmerized by people who are good at these. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I’ll begin comparing myself to those individuals who have a completely different gift set than me, and I’ll grow discouraged and start to wallow in self-pity. How silly. But lots of us do this.

We all have beautiful gifts in the form of ability or propensity – things that we can do that others can’t or won’t. These special graces make the world more beautiful and they are the result of having been made. Each of us has been intricately designed. The reason for these designs? Why, beauty. Inspiration. Hope. Wisdom. Help. Meaningful variety. Goodness. And love. To make the world more lovely.

How easy would it be to spend the dollars to buy a quilt or comforter for my children’s beds? Very. And I sometimes do. But there is something wonderfully fulfilling, for me, about designing and stitching a quilt. It is a gift that continues to give, throughout years and perhaps generations. It’s worth it. Creativity is part of my calling. It’s highly enjoyable, but others benefit too.

These things we are good at and love to do? They show us a little more of who God is. We follow the clues and realize how colorful and smiling and serious and astonishing He is. How much pleasure He meant for us to have. How huge his joy must be. How flat and one dimesional we might have made Him. How boxed in and tame.

He’s always bigger. Better. More. Able. I am convinced that all of our lives are evidence of this. Even the bad parts have served as contrast and lessons and future wisdom to be shared. They are shadows revealing the strong sunlight.

Tap into your grace, for it is your art, given to make the world lovelier and more interesting, and to reveal true design and freedom.

Stay focused.

Don’t compare yourself to others.  You’ll miss the gifted facts. You’ll forfeit individual destiny to jealousy or intimidation or misunderstanding. Let these conterfeits go, and embrace the full-fledged identity of a child of God: confident, honest, focused, strong.

It’s not about grasping and striving for what always seems to be just out of our grasp. Oh if only I could sing. If only I could make my peace with crowds and microphones. But no. I can build gardens and things with my hands, I can craft small beauties and invest in one person at a time. I can draw strength from solitude. I can use my friendship with words to encourage and hold and illuminate.

Miracles do happen and He surprises us all the time. But it’s about what is already in your hand. Be faithful with that, for you already own it. Your talent or opportunity or knowledge or children or resources or the good words on the tip of your tongue.

Start there. With what you’ve been given. For it gives.

That is the nature of the gifts He gives. They can’t not give. Like living things, flourishing out from our souls.

You are wonderfully made.

And there are at least a hundred thousand reasons why.


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