Archive for November, 2018

I came up this quote from Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote while reading c.J. Casciotta’s book Get Weird and I think it perfectly sums up the courage required to live a creative life. Let’s see if you agree.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be practical is madness. To surrender dreams—this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness—and the maddest of all: to see life as it is and not as it should be.

It’s funny how much this lines up with the book I’m currently writing. It’s a book about a young man under pressure to give up his dream and embrace someone else’s reality. I think Cervantes nailed it. To look at this life as it is, to look at this world as it is, without the desire to make it better is the epitome of madness.

What do you think?

Okay, last night I did something that I’ve never really had the chance to do before. My three year old grandson came up to me and asked me if I would color with him. Turns out we were given a black piece of paper and he started to ask me to draw things for him. Cows and tractors and trains and pictures of him and of me. He wrote his name and drew a few pictures of his own. I had a great time and I think he did too. Now I’ve done a lot of art in my life, but this was the most fun I had doing it in a long time. We put so many pictures on that paper that they started to be drawn one on top of another. After that, we spent some time playing tractors on the floor. It was a real blessing.

Then today I had the privilege of finishing working on the set for the musical my son is directing, a production of Elf Jr. We’ve spent a lot of time working on it, and today we finished. I love when I get to invest in the next generation. I love using my gift to serve others. I guess my caution would be this: In the midst of all the great opportunities we get to do, don’t forget the ones that are closest to you. Invest your gift in all the ways you can, but it’s especially important to sow into the next generation.

I decided to share this series of Creacher comics which pretty much says everything I need to say about Dreams, talent and doing the work.

A few days ago there was a surprise snowstorm, a camel was being transported along a highway near my church, then the truck transporting him slid into a ditch. The driver left the animal out to stretch his legs, someone took a photo of him posted it to social media, rumors spread and a legend was born, Einstein the 309 Camel. I even made a shirt.

Then, just for fun, I created a new creature. I call him Ork… no objective, just creating spontaneously, for fun (but he became a shirt too).

Inspiration can be found in all kinds of places and sometimes you just need to create.

This is another of those “paid” review books (they give me the book) that I get from time to time and they require me to say that at the beginning of my review. That being said, I only agree to review books that I think might be helpful to my readers and this books is no exception. I will admit I had an ulterior motive for selecting this one. I am definitely not the target market for this book. Mandy Hale is known as The Single Woman on her social media and blogs. I am kind of the opposite of that, The Married Man if you will. I selected the book because it has a similar title to mine (I’d love to have you read that one too).

I wanted to see how Ms. Hale arrived at being enough and I was not disappointed. This book is vulnerable, at times rawly so. She is so honest with her struggles and her journey in the battle to realize she is enough, but it’s more than that, she helps her reader to understand what it means to be enough. While I was clearly not the target of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. She shares her story poignantly and yet helpfully. This book is more than just a memoir. She deals honestly with her struggles with depression, stories of being lost and found and through it all finding “enoughness.” If you have ever struggled with anxiety, depression or just wondering whether or not you are enough, this book is for you. It’s a quick read, and I found it helpful. I think you will too.

So at the beginning of the month, I started in on NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. I am writing my first work of fiction, a Christian youth/young adult novel about a boy who is largely an outcast with a passion and a talent for art, no it’s not an autobiography, though there might be a little bit of Dave in Max. I’m really excited about it. NaNoWriMo is essentially a challenge to finish a 50,000 word novel or at least the first draft of it, in the 30 days of November.

I was going great guns up to about 25,000 words, then I hit a snag. Well it wasn’t really a snag, but I got really busy. I’ve been helping my son create a theater set for a community theater and I am a pastor at one of the busiest times of the year, not to mention working on my masters. Bottom line, I’m about 10,000 words behind and there’s a good chance I won’t finish by the end of November. What should I do? Well there was a time where that would mean I would give up, but the truth is, I’m really happy with how this project is coming together. The other alternative (the one that I am doing by the way) is to press on, doing what I can, while finishing my other projects. I may not be able to finish a novel in a month, but I felt led by God to do it, and I will finish it and, with God’s help, I will publish it.

For most of my life writing a book seemed to be an unattainable goal, until I did it. Likewise a novel seemed the same way, but half way through I am finding it a lot of fun. To finish in a month, I’d need to do just over 1600 words a day, but the truth of the matter is at a rate of 500 words a day, a feat almost anyone can do, I can finish in just under three months. Bottom line, I really want to finish it, and I will, but at the end of the day, getting behind on a self-imposed deadline is less important than serving my church and serving my son. It’s okay to fall behind on projects for something more important, that’s called priorities. It’s just not okay to quit. Keep at it.

This book was sent to me for free by the publisher for review. It was listed as a creativity book, so I asked them to send it to me, I was a little surprised to see it was a coloring journal, but I have to say it is very nicely done. It has a Scripture for meditation on most of the two page spreads surrounded by beautifully drawn coloring illustrations. The opposing page has a smaller coloring image and some lines to write your thoughts. There are also some illustrated pages without quotes just for coloring fun. I could see this book working very nicely for daily devotions or possibly with a church coloring group. It’s a hard cover book with really good quality paper stock which will lend itself well to a variety of coloring media.

Gina Graham has done a beautiful job with this journal. If this kind of thing is something you might enjoy doing, check it out.

I got this book as a free review copy from the publishing company. I guess that technically makes it a paid review, but truth be known, I am just grateful to have read this excellent book. I am prepared to say that every person in ministry should read this book. John W. Gray III is an associate pastor of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church as well as the senior pastor of Relentless Church in South Carolina. His success is notable, but he starts this book talking about how while he was rising to the top and speaking all over the world, his marriage was falling apart. With his priorities out of whack, the man the world knew was very different from the man his family knew.

The subtitle of this book says it all. Finding yourself by facing yourself. By paralleling his own story, with the story of Jacob from Genesis, Gray succeeds at writing a book that is both inspiring and immensely convicting. This book was challenging on every page and had me checking myself. You see, you don’t have to be preaching at one of the largest churches in the world to find yourself getting out of alignment with the will of God and while I don’t think I have strayed too far, I do feel that God gave me this book for such a time as this. If you are in any form of leadership, you really should read this book.

In 2016, I did a piece of art every single day and recorded them for the year. Anyone want to join the challenge with me in 2019.

Today I was reading a post by an artist friend. Someone had accused her of capitalizing on the Hispanic culture in her art. She wrote a rather lengthy response about her heritage and her DNA explaining that she is in fact part of that culture. I would have taken a different tack. This whole idea of cultural appropriation is one of the most regrettable things I have ever seen. Let me explain why.

The arts have always been something of a melting pot. People influenced by people of other cultures, creating unique works that meld cultures. Is this to say people have never been exploited, of course not, there will always be unethical people trying to rip people off and those people should be dealt with accordingly, but the idea of cultural appropriation is not the way. The majority of artists are just looking at the world around them and expressing it through their hearts, minds and media. They’re not looking to rip people off. They’re saying, “Wow that is cool, but what if we applied it to this.” Let’s let art be what it was always meant to be. A cultural unifier that allows us to appreciate one another and learn from each other.

What’s the alternative? Cultural segregation. Do we really want a world where white people can only create “white people stuff,” and people of color only able to create stuff from their people group? And who will be the arbiter of which is which. Do we really want to say that you can only create based on race? I surely hope not. That would seem to be taking us back centuries. Hamilton would need to come off Broadway immediately. We’d need to remove and destroy all rock and roll recordings yesterday and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t want to live in a world where the arts are segregated. Rather I’d like to be free to work with whom I want, and to be influenced by who I want and create work that honors whatever heritage has influenced it. I want to create work that speaks to people, not just my people group. Rather than thinking about cultural appreciation, maybe we should think about cultural appreciation instead. Let’s not build walls in the arts. Let’s join hands and create a better world.