Category Archives: she speaks

on solving the problem of pain…

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” –1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Take time to consider your creative side. We all have one—a creative edge to our personalities. Some of us writers, painters, musicians, chefs, singers, cooks, sewers, teachers, marketers, photographers, scrapbookers, gardeners, planners. The list is endless, and while you might not consider yourself particularly creative, you cannot escape the label. Why? Because you’ve been created in the image of God. Accordingly, there’s something about you that resembles the creative pulse of the Creator.

Along these lines, I have a question for you. It didn’t originate with me. It belongs to Jeannie Burlowski. She first asked it of me a couple of months ago during a pre-conference seminar for She Speaks. The session was designed to better prepare writers for their upcoming publisher meetings at the conference. Part of the preparation included writing a book proposal—a thirty-forty page document detailing an idea for a book, a marketing plan, and a few writing samples. As Jeannie was discussing the various components of the proposal and how it should be presented to publishers, she said something that interrupted my note-taking and forced my thinking.

“How does your book … your words help solve the problem of pain?”

Sit with that a minute. I did. In fact, I’ve sat with this question ever since first receiving it. It struck me back then; it strikes me still. The problem of pain and my words as a healing agent therein.

Really? Seriously? Apparently.

You see, no matter how I turn it, consider it, and think about it, I think she’s right. Not just as it pertains to me as a writer, but to all of us who create. We’re all in the business of solving pain. We may not realize the importance of our roll in the matter, but at the root of all creativity is this idea that art solves pain. We create because it brings us pleasure; in doing so, it brings others pleasure as well. Otherwise, why bother to pick up the pen or the paintbrush or the cookbook? Creativity helps to heal the wounded. And who of us haven’t felt some pain? Who of us haven’t “created” in an attempt to salve the pain of others?

And so, as you consider your creative bent, I ask you the same question I’ve been asking of myself over these past months. How does your creativity—whether in music, words, pictures, recipes—help solve the problem of pain? I know. It feels weighty, almost too much responsibility attached to our giftings.

Nonetheless, we cannot escape the reality that our “art” is a direct reflection of our God-given talents. The generous dispensation of creativity that Creator-Father has seeded into each one of us requires that we share it with others. In doing so, we bring joy to the earth. Whenever we create we sow eternal life, goodness, and hope into the temporal soil of pain.

Without art, we all suffer. Without creativity, we tend to forget the Creator. Without vision, we remain as we are, and left as we are, we’re unfinished.

There’s a whole lot of pain in this world yet untouched by the creativity residing in you. Your giftings are meant to be applied to that pain. Don’t underestimate your creativity just because it looks different from your neighbor’s. We shouldn’t measure our artful reflections against the artful reflections of others. It’s not fair to our DNA, and it certainly undercuts the witness of our Father’s fingerprints on our lives.

He made each of us unique, different, and with a specialness that can only display its worthiness through the skin delicately designed to hold its beauty. You are the owner of that skin, and you are given the rich privilege of unveiling your creativity as a healing agent to the problem of pain.

Take your creativity seriously, friends. Live it wildly, and share it liberally with the world. I, for one, have been the direct beneficiary of your giftings; they’ve have gone a long way to help solve the problem of my pain. Keep to it. I will endeavor to do the same. As always…

Peace for the journey,
PS: What does your creativity lead you to create? How does it help solve the problem of pain? I’d love to hear from you.

Legacy (a reflection from "She Speaks")

 She nestled in next door to me, to my left and within an elbow’s reach of bumping into mine. Around the table set for eight, we began our dissection of rolls, salad, and sweet tea. Her choosing a seat next to mine put a smile across my heart. She’s a good fit with my favorite people group, and as things go with my favorite people group—those exceeding me in wisdom and age by at least twenty years—I heartily welcomed her as part of my evening digestion.

Some meals feed the stomach; other meals feed the soul. This meal would provide nourishment on both counts. Thus, the “feeding began” with a few words of initial impartation from my heart to hers.

“Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you come from, and why are you here?”

“I’m from Arizona, although it’s not really my point of origin, and I’m here with my daughter this weekend. I’ve never been to She Speaks before, but I wanted to come and see what the buzz is all about. Mostly I came to support her. Can I show you something?”

(Honestly, she could have shown me a pair of nail clippers at that point; she “had me” at her words about “point of origin.”) Instead of nail clippers, she pulled out a copy of the newly released book by Glynnis Whitwer, I Used to Be So Organized: Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace.

“My daughter wrote this book, and she dedicated it to me; I didn’t even know it until today.”

She opened the book to the dedication page, and we read the words together. Her name was written there—in print and on display as a lasting memorial to the parenting investment … the loving deposits, she’s made into the life of her daughter over the years. Glynnis obviously “had her mother” with these initial words of personal dedication. It was a Kodak moment, at least of the heart kind—one that I mentally snapped and reflected upon throughout the remainder of the evening.

I watched them as they broke bread with one another and wondered about how many tables they’ve shared over the years. The evening was filled with little moments of mother-daughter give-and-take. Caring for one another in simple ways. Passing the salt. Passing softly spoken messages. Passing the tissue box. Passing touches. Passing love.

At one point in the evening, my new friend gently placed her hand on her daughter’s shoulder. It remained there throughout the serenade beautifully voiced through Michael O’Brien. I could barely contain my tears while witnessing this love pass from a mother to her daughter. A stretch of grace from a mother’s womb to the fruit of that womb.

A grace-filled tribute to legacy.

The keynote speaker for the evening spoke of legacy. Ann Voskamp challenged us in regards to those “book/movie trailers” we’re creating for the next generation. What seeds are we planting? What trails are we blazing? What steps are we marking? What stones are we gathering? What remembrances are we collecting? What will be the lasting memorial of our earthly tenures?

As the evening drew to a close, I thought about the “book trailer” that I had just watched unfold before me at the table. Not the one on the stage screen, but on the screen closer at hand—the 3D, in the flesh trailer that rubbed elbows with me throughout dinner. Clip after clip of loving legacy between a mother and her daughter. I’m not sure anyone else noticed it, but I was privileged to sit ringside to its witness. As I prepared to leave our time of fellowship, I looked at my new friend and said…

“This is the book trailer; the way you love your daughter and the way that she obviously loves you in return … this is the trailer that matters. Keep to it … keep to your loving.”

Weary and worn from a day’s worth of peddling my words to publishers, I threw a few more out there; not on behalf of myself, but rather to validate and commemorate a precious love between a parent and a child.

Legacy–a trailer we leave for the next generation.

  • Traveling with the ones we love.
  • Talking about the ones we love.
  • Touching the shoulders of the ones we love.

Not a bad formula for making a life-trailer. Traveling. Talking. Touching. What better words of final benediction could be spoken over our lives? I want them to be spoken of me one day.

She traveled with us. She talked about us. She touched us with her love.

This is the book trailer, friends. The one that matters. Keep to it … keep to your traveling, your talking, and your touching this week. And thank you, new friend, for being willing to rub elbows with me. You had me at your “point of origin.” As always…

Peace for the journey,

PS: Leave a comment to be entered into a give-away for Glynnis Whitwer’s new book, I Used to Be So Organized. There will be another give-away with my next post for one of Michael O’Brien’s CD’s. Shalom.

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