Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm an Artist????

It may be hard for the people who know me as I am now to believe, but it has been a long hard journey to believe and walk in my calling as an artist. Most of those I am in relationship now see me as a very creative individual and probably could not imagine me not creating. I love to make things, all kinds of different things; I love learn new creative expressions and try new ways to create all the time. But, even as recent as 5 years ago, I would have denied being creative and would not have even dreamed of ever referring to myself as an artist. It has been such an interesting and long journey to arrive here and I know God is not any where near finished. I don't think that my heart can even begin to comprehend the plans God has for me. I will probably be astounded at where I am 5 years from now. Looking back I realize now, that God called and created me to be an artist from before my conception. He set things into motion, before I was ever a twinkle in my mother's eye and before she was a twinkle in her parents eyes. He also allowed the enemy to steal my creativity and artistic nature from me for a good 30 to 35 years. I will get to the reason for that later. There have been glimpse of the creativity over the years, but I just pretty much saw them as flukes. So, finding and unleashing my creativity has been a long and interesting journey.

I have to start at the point where I think the most devastating blow to my creativity happened. I have spent a lot of time praying and asking God to show me where it began. Or, should I say since I realized that God was revealing to me my creative nature, I have been praying. The creativity has been really bubbling up over the last 4 years. God really turned up the pressure on the bubbling about 2 years ago; then, He caused the bubbling to turn to a full boil about a year ago. It was at the point when the boiling began that I really started praying and seeking Him to help me set the artist in me free and to show me the root of the belief that I was not capable of being an artist. It was as if I had put the artistic part of me in a box and buried her deep in the soil of my basement. She was almost dead when I found her. Her breathing so shallow, that I was not even sure she was still breathing. She had been hidden so long deep under ground without any oxygen, food, water, light or any of the things we so desperately need to survive. I despaired that she would survive and breath again. Would she ever be a part of me, again? Had I forever put to death that beautiful part of who I was? The enemy had sought to use me to destroy her; it seemed she could not be resurrected. But the enemy of our soul always over plays his hand. "What he means for our destruction, God ALWAYS intends for our GOOD!!!!!!" Jesus took my hand and led me down into to basement of despair, the place where dreams were put to death. And we began to dig. I wasn't even sure what we were digging for when we began to dig. I knew it was cold down there and scary; the air was heavy with despair. The we reached our destination. The coffin was revealed. The box seemed so familiar to me. Why did this thing buried deep inside me seem so familiar, yet I was not clear what we had found. Then as we opened the lid, a gasp escaped my mouth. I heart sank. Even in her emaciated, lifeless state, she was beautiful. I knew her. She was the artist, the creator, the maker of beauty. "Fear not," He said to me,"Even as I called Lazarus out of the tomb to life, I call you out of death, I breath life into you. I have called you out of darkness, come forth and shine my light through the creativity I gave you before you ever were."

I see now that allowing me to have my creativity stolen for so long, has been a beautiful part of the plan of my life. Having to fight so hard for my artistic nature has given me a drive, a passion, a tenacious ferocity for creating and encouraging creativity. It has developed in my heart not only a passion to be creative, but a dedication to developing and encouraging creativity in others. Having suffered the loss of my creativity and having suffered from not having it developed or encouraged in my life, has made me so passionate about being one who would draw creativity out of people and inspire people to attempt new things and see how much potential is in each one of us. As I have been walking this path and fighting for it, I have picked up equipment and tools along to way to use to help others. Just as exercise develops strength in our bodies, so this fight has given me strength to fight for those who don't have the vision or strength to fight for themselves. I have a pretty enormous vision for a creative war that is worldwide. More on that later.

Back to the root of the problem (as usual my writing has gone chasing rabbits). As I have looked back to find when I first buried the artist, I came to something that seemed so minuscule and silly. It is, non the less, the point at which the artist was placed underground. When I was in first grade, I had a teacher that was pretty mean. She really did not like me. Now, granted my Mom was clinically depressed so she did not do the greatest job caring for us. This teacher thought little girls should always have their hair up during the warm months. She would daily complement those girls whose hair was up in a pony tail, while stating that little girls should have their hair put up. Well, my momma did not put my hair up. I was lucky if it was brushed well. The impact of that effected me up until the last 3 or 4 years. My girls ALWAYS had their done. When Ally's hair was not even long enough to be up, it was in tiny little pony tails on top of her head. It was a huge issue in my life, that my children always looked nice and had their hair done. The same teacher was the one who delivered the death blow to the artist. One day she held up a picture that I had colored in front of the whole class and stated that "it looked like a kinder gardener had colored it. Though, she did not say it was my picture, I knew that it was. Then when my mother confronted her about it, she lied and said she had done no such thing. My poor mother, had been so beaten down and abused her whole life, that she did not have the confidence to stand up to her so it was dropped. It seems liked such a seemingly insignificant thing, but it impacted me in such a devastating way. The influence of that teacher effected my life and the lives of my children for about 26 years. Wow, we never know what kind of impact we will have on people. We can make them into something amazing or we can leave them bleeding to death. I have forgiven her. She obviously was a very unhappy person. I hope that she found peace in her life. God used the pains she caused in my life to be used to make me who I am today and to make me so cognisant of the need to have creativity encouraged in our lives especially as children.

Now here the beautiful irony of God is revealed. A good friend once pointed out to me how like God it was that the little girls who was made fun of for her hair would become a hair dresser and help people have pretty hair. Now in recent months, God has revealed even more irony. The little girl who had her art made fun of and who has struggled to become an artist is starting an after school art program so children can find the artist in them. The program is called CREATE (Children Rendering Extraordinary Art Through Exploration).

This is how CREATE was birthed. My family was praying and thinking about moving to another school district where I could send my youngest child to a Magnet School for Artistically talented children. Another part of that decision was to decrease our living expenses. My youngest is very very gifted in a lot of different ways. (I know everyone thinks that their children are extraordinary, but this one has talent oozing from her pores). She is extremely intelligent and scores very high on academic tests; she also draws, writes stories, and has perfect pitch. She started writing songs at 6 years old. Our district has PACE for high intelligence, but nothing for children who excel in the Arts. Sometimes it seems like God has given me the opportunity, in Chloe, to watch and see myself grow up in a healthier environment where creativity and talent are encouraged. (not pushed, mind you, but encouraged.) She is very much a lot like me. She got a keyboard for Christmas and is proceeding to teach herself to play songs by ear. B/c of this talent, I have really been praying about changing districts. We knew were supposed to move, but still weren't sure where. One day while running and praying about school, moving, starting a small art club at our school, and how all this fit together, I heard a question come out of my heart. God said to me, "What if instead moving and effecting the life of one child by putting Chloe in a Magnet school, you started a volunteer driven after school magnet program at your school and effected hundreds of children?" I thought, "wow, okay, that is a pretty big project, but if you ask me to do something, you will help me do it. I am willing, but then you have help us find the right place to move, so we can afford to stay. I don't want to start something and let everyone down b/c I leave it before it is strong enough to stand without me." It was as if I was painting this really small picture, it was a pretty picture (there is nothing wrong with seeking the best for our children), but then God tapped me on the shoulder and asked to borrow the paint brush for a minute. He began to paint this really huge picture. It was the same concept only with much bigger significance and consequence. As He painted, it just kept getting bigger. "What if this program could be a pilot for other such programs at other schools?" It would eventually include drama, creative writing, sewing, photography, film, pottery, or any number of creative expressions. I hope that the program will eventually be every day after school with volunteers to come in and offer different classes for the children to explore, learn and grow. It also has 2 different shifts; shift one is for those who don't go to tutoring; shift two is offered so that the children in tutoring can come after tutoring and get the same experience. What an exciting opportunity and what an amazing privilege that God would call me to start it. What a picture of God's redemption that the little girl who was made fun of in school, would be used to start such an amazing program and potentially impact hundreds or thousands of children's lives. At our school these children are children who might not ever have the opportunity to some of these things b/c of financial restraints or struggling academically. This also serves as a warm up to what I really want to do.

Eventually, I would like to travel all around the globe taking art and creative expression to children who desperately need it. I want to do art with the children who live in dumps, the children orphaned by AIDS in Africa, the children who are struggling to recover from being child soldiers, the children who live in brothels, and children everywhere who live in hopelessness and separation from beauty. I believe that God will send me. I am willing to go. How amazing I think it would be to take my children and spend the summer in some of those places just loving and creating. That would be life changing both for the children we create with and for our family. Yeah, its a ridiculous vision, but if it isn't so big that you need God's help then what is the point?

Very quickly I want to trace the path that God put me on the reach the artist. I had wanted to be a hair dresser for about 21 years. I didn't make it to hair school when I was younger b/c of my drug problem. Then I started having children (which God used to get me off the drugs). I stayed home with them or worked daycare most of their lives. When my baby was about to start Kindergarten I enrolled in hair school. In hair school I was introduced to a make up academy that I attended and started doing make up. I fell in love with make up and got really really good at it. I finished hair school, but did not pursue doing hair as a profession. I did make up for several years and was really really good at special effects. It was doing make up that I began to see my creativity. I still told people that I was not an artist, just a make up artist. About 2 years ago, it became apparent that my son needed to be home schooled (that is a story for another day.) I also lost my position in the make up academy that I was employed by. The timing was just perfect to make a total shift in the direction I was headed in. God put it in my heart to begin sewing. I bought my first embroidery machine and started playing with sewing and designing. The sewing really was the catalyst to bring the simmering creativity to the full boil it is today. I love to make things and am constantly exploring news ways to make things; I want to start to combine creative expressions in new ways.

This brings us up to today.

I AM AN ARTIST. Not only am I an artist, I am an developer of artists. I intend to inspire and impact everyone I can. I want to spread the Creativity Virus. I intend to help people find their creativity without them even realizing what I am up to like a creativity ninja. Watch out, you never know what I might be up to in your life. :)

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