As someone who loves to daydream, this is one of my favorite quotes.
As someone who loves to daydream, this is one of my favorite quotes.
I’m one of those strange writers who doesn’t mind clichés. What I mind is when they’re slapped on because we all know that’s how the story goes, but delivered without conviction or chemistry. I love war movies and action movies. I like cop shows and westerns. Almost all of these stories are just a change of setting and actors, with the same plots, and the same characters. I eat it up. I’ll watch an anti-hero become good over and over. I’ll watch the drifter save the town and get the girl. I’ll bask in the story of the elite team that sacrifices itself for others, each one getting picked off one by one.
“Please sir, can I have some more?”
Because I don’t run screaming from clichés, I tend to have a few of my own. Whether I’m working on my YA Epic, one of my Huntsman and HearthKeeper stories, or a fairy tale retelling, I tend to focus in on four types of characters: the warrior, the dreamer, the forgiven, and the ordinary.
These four tend to make up my teams, my crews. They are my main characters and important secondary characters. And they come complete with their own symbols.
See, I’m a doodler. I love to doodle. Set a piece of paper in front of me and the next thing you know it will be covered with light bulbs, trees, swirling lines, mushrooms, antlers, axes and shields, and favorite quotes. It will also have arrows, feathers, tulips, and dandelions lined up in a row. This is my warrior, dreamer, forgiven, and ordinary.
The Warrior: I love humble warriors (proud warriors are dangerous and annoying). I love the broken ones who stand between darkness and the innocent. I love the ones who hunt monsters under the bed, evil, and danger, pouring themselves out for the rest of us. They are often dirty, dark, and cracked. They’re rough. A dull arrow can’t help you. A sharp one, a tested one could cut you, but it can also defend you.
The Dreamer: I love the soft ones who see the joy in life. They’re gentle. They’re quiet. Their strength and power is far more subtle than the warrior. They have seen all the darkness the he has seen, but it hasn’t stolen their laughter. They face the storm with a song and a dance. They’re filled with hope. I often pair a warrior with a dreamer. It helps the warrior not break completely when he has this light-filled creature standing beside him.
The Forgiven: One of my favorite shows is Fringe. It is brilliant, beautiful, funny, painful, oh so very painful. In it they use the Tulip as a symbol of forgiveness. This works for me because not only do I love the show, so me doodling tulip is an ode to my love, but I’m also a 5 point Calvinist. The Tulip is used by us to represent the five tenets presented against Arminianism. One of the beautiful points about Calvinism is that we aren’t good, we aren’t worthy, and we don’t deserve forgiveness. But GOD! God came. God supplied what we couldn’t and forgave us, sinners. Christ came and touched the sick, retrieved the dangerous, and befriended the villain. You will never read one of my longer stories that doesn’t have at least one of the villains being forgiven. I love having someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness on any level getting it from the hero. Each of my forgiven characters represents my own undeserved rescue, because I didn’t deserve to be rescued.
The Ordinary: In our day in age, ordinary is a bad word. If you want to live an ordinary life somethings wrong with you. Suburbia is boring and only for those who have given up on life. And yet, ordinary is amazing. The Bible often encourages us to be ordinary, to live an ordinary life. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures, magic, and supernatural things. But, I think there is great magic in living an ordinary life, a quiet life. (My hobbitness is showing.) When I have warriors, dreamers, and forgiven characters running around, I will include someone who is ordinary. They aren’t the fighters, the light, or the villain rescued. They’re just a normal boy or girl drawn into an extraordinary situation. This appeals to me because I believe heroes are often ordinary people. Many men in battle are just like you or me with the only difference being that they’ve been thrust into an extreme situation.
I wish I could tell you, dear reader, who these all are in my YA Epic, The Artists Return, but spoilers. I have yet to introduce my “Forgiven” character. Once my patrons receive The Sparrow and the Star, and have time to devour the epic-ness that it is, I’ll be able to freely talk about my four characters. Maybe that will motivate me to finish editing!
As you read my stories, watch for these four characters. Sometimes they merge and blend, a character being both the warrior and the forgiven, the dreamer and the ordinary. Some of my shorter stories will have only one or two of them. But, no matter what I write, these four ideals rise again and again. They take on different skins, different quirks, different plots, but stay essentially the same: warrior, dreamer, forgiven, ordinary.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you enjoy high fantasy, you must must must read the Way of Kings…and Kaladin is my favorite. I’m sure you’re super surprised. I love him because he is a true warrior. He’s all about protecting those around him.
Happy birthday Ellie dear! I love you so much Ellie. You’re beautiful, spunky, game, and very little gets you down for long. You adore your older sister and older cousins, are quite at home playing rough with the boys, but always have a tender heart. You also play the perfect Mario! I’m looking forward to watching you grow up into a beautiful and wonderful young lady. I pray for you all the time, that the Lord would do a work in your heart.
I love you dear Ellie! Happy 6th birthday!
How beautiful is this quote??? And how true is it that we are the beast, and Christ loved us long before we were beautiful. Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful fairy tale that teaches us to be Brave before we have to be.
Growing comfortable being a Sunday widow, I watched you walk to the front of the room just like I had countless times before. But, this time it was different. You left my side, stalk up in your heavy way of walking that has earned you the nickname Strider, and stood beside Pastor Jarrett. Steve Martin, Steve Garrick, and my father (looking a bit Balin-ish) joined you. Jarrett said a few words and then one by one they laid their hands on you and started to pray.
I started crying. I hadn’t planned on crying today. I didn’t expect to cry. Tear up? Yes. Weep? Nope. I couldn’t hold back. I couldn’t stop. Tears streamed down my face. Emily Shiflet, who drove up from Houston to witness this great event, put her arm around me. I wept.
There was more joy in this situation than I can ever express. I have had a front row seat in my husband’s life. I have seen his great sin, his many faults, and the great grace he has been shown. I have known him when our marriage was falling apart, and when we were putting it back together. I have walked at his side when he was asked to teach, and when he kept teaching despite the long hours of study it took, despite the cut in pay it took, despite the lack of any sort of consistent day off it required, despite the hours I never saw him. I have prayed for him and with him. I have studied him both as my husband, and as a fellow church member to see if he was qualified.
It has been my husband’s dream to be a pastor since he was a kid. And here we are. It hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a road filled with sin, pride, the work of sanctification, patience from others, self-sacrifice, self-doubt, sleepless nights, long conversations, encouragement, critiques, and grace upon grace upon grace.
I wept tears of joy to see my husband get to step into the role he’s always dreamed of filling. I wept tears of joy because God worked it all out in his timing, which was so much better than ours. I wept tears of joy because God promised to gift his churches with pastors and teachers, and today he kept that promise yet again. He’d raised up a young man to continue to shepherd our church. And, I wept cause just a month ago, I don’t think my Dad would have been able to be there. To see him standing there, gripping my husband’s shoulder, was joy upon joy. I wept tears of thankfulness.
But, there was a tinge of sadness to those tears. While my husband took the role of pastor on his shoulders, while the older men prayed around him, while the church watched and prayed, I had a deep sense of missing two men. I deeply, heart-achingly, trustingly missed my extra Dad. Price was being ordained and Vidal was no longer with us. Oh, how thrilled and proud he would have been to see his son called as a pastor of our church. To see Price standing there would have probably made Vidal cry, but it was a moment I know Vidal longed to see. The Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Vidal home before he got to see this great moment.
The other man I missed was Ron Baines. Ron took Price under his wing early on. They shared a great love of the Old Testament, and Ron pushed Price to go to seminary. Ron was one of Price’s greatest cheerleaders. Again, I wept because I knew Ron would have been thrilled. Ron would have been one of the men up there praying over this new pastor, but, the Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Ron home before he got to see great moment.
So, I cried and cried. Happy and sad tears, trusting tears overflowing with the grace of God, trusting his timing and providence, for he is God and knows all things, sees all things, and I’m but a weary creature.
There was such a huge amount of joy wrapped up in this moment. Getting to see my husband’s dream come true was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. My love for him has only grown. I’m so proud of him, so thankful for him, so happy for him.
Our church has endured persecution of late. Price being ordained was encouraging. Christ proved through this that he was still with us, still tending us, still gifting us, still faithful to us. We weren’t cut off, we weren’t lost. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, were still together. My Dad has been on sabbatical due to some, honestly, scary heath issues, and not only was he able to be there yesterday, but, Christ hasn’t left everything in Jarrett’s lap. Dad had to step back from his duties, but in God’s perfect timing and providence, Price was brought in. Price has been faithfully serving for five years and wasn’t a raw recruit. He wasn’t a greenie. God worked it out perfectly so that when Dad had to step back, Price came to the table with experience. It was an amazing thing to see the love of Christ for his bride.
So my husband is officially an elected elder of our church, and an ordained minister.
I’m tired, but happy. I’m filled with joy to stand beside this man through life, to every day, when I cook, clean, iron, pay bills, enter accounting info, water plants, vacuum, and manage all of life, to serve my pastor, and by serving him, I’m serving the church.
I believe every women who diligently keeps her home serves her church. I believe that with my whole heart. My service just because a little more tangible, that’s all.
Pray, dear sibling-saints, pray for your pastors. They bear a great burden. They have a great love for the flock. The sacrifice much of this world for the sake of the next. Pray for them. They defend us from the wolves within and without. Pray for them.
The other day I saw a quote on Pinterest that got tangled up in my brain. No amount of wishing, or thinking, or pondering sponged it away. I batted at it. Hissed at it. Ignored it. It only crossed its arms, stuck out its tongue, rolled its eyes, and remained. So, dear readers, I’m going to write about it. I’m going to write about it because it irritated me so much. I found it so offensive, I couldn’t let it go.
The bad part? I didn’t save it. I can’t find it. I’ve looked and searched all over Pinterest and the internet for it. No such luck. (I must be out of faerie dust.) I can’t give you the exact quote. You’ll have to trust my memory and live with the gist of the quote instead of the exact words.
Here’s the quote that sent me into a tailspin:
You’re an artist. Your art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for a neighbor. Make your art.
(The wording was a little more “artistic” than that, but that’s basically what it said.)
You’re art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for your neighbor? Since when did art become the god of our society? Of our hearts? We’ve made art our idol. In our culture if it’s art, if it’s your art, no one can say otherwise. No parent, teacher, spouse, child, or any one can tell you anything negative about the amount of time and effort you put into your art. If they dare, they’re squashing your spirit. “Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their lives.”
That’s the artist culture. That’s that kind of things artist tell other artists.
How selfish can we be? How self-absorbed?
Instead of making sure my family has clean dishes, I should let them get sick because my writing is more important than their health. If my neighbors or friends are struggling, I’m off the hook on helping them cause I wanted to write this morning? The fake people in my head are more important than the real people around me?
This is the kind of thing people pin when they’re feeling guilty about how they’re treating fellow human beings. Art isn’t more important than people. Art isn’t the height of human experience. It is a gift, a part of human experience. It is one of the many facets that make us human.
Many women think they aren’t artistic, but their homes are beautifully decorated and very welcoming. They love to host teas and shower people with food and drink. I know women who don’t think they’re artistic who make beautiful quilts, or sew their own clothes, or grow beautiful gardens. I know women who cook healthy and delicious meals. All of that is art. Every element of life is art. Have you ever worked on a project where you didn’t have the choice of creating beauty?
Painting, drawing, writing, and music aren’t the only art forms. They don’t sit up on a higher pedestal than someone who can raise chickens. They communicate emotionally to the soul, yes, but so does a tree. So does a well landscaped front yard. So do clean dishes.
Once we start regulating art to only painting, drawing, writing, and music, once we see it as only something a few of us can do, and once we see it as more important than all of life, we’ve made it a god. And any god other than God is a tyrant.
Try it. Try putting art above all and watch your marriage crumble. Watch your children grow up alone and filled with bitterness. You may create beautiful things, the world may sing your praises, but they will go home to their safe, warm beds where someone took the time to do the laundry (another art form) and they will sleep peacefully together.
Don’t make a gift from God an idol. Don’t let it run your life to the detriment of everything else, and don’t sell yourself short. Open your eyes to the art that is all around you! Don’t believe the lie that only a few special people are artistic. (Granted, there are a few special people who are Michelangelo, but only a few. And artist like him do give up almost all for their art. Make sure this is what you want to do.) If you’re making a choice, you have the chance to be creative. Creativity is often useful, found in the home, and welcoming to those around us. Creativity isn’t afraid to sacrifice for others. If you have an artistic gift, use it. Use it in all of life, but don’t believe the lie that all of life should bow down before your art form of choice.
“I’m an artist!” they exclaim loudly.
Art, artistic-ness, creativity, on a certain level is ordinary. You aren’t a special unicorn who magically has art that some suburban mom raising three kids while managing her home doesn’t have. You paint, or write, or make music, or YouTube videos, while she washes clothes, getting spots out that are unidentified. She makes meals that both taste good and are nourishing. She cleans a house quickly and efficiently. She spends her free time teaching her daughter to sew. Or maybe she just enjoys taking pictures of her girls. She manages budgets, meals, laundry, and education. She oversees the decorating and improving of all that is around her. Every element of her life is art, for she is making choices every moment of every day for beauty instead of squalor.
Artists hate to think of themselves as ordinary.
This world hates to think of anything, especially ourselves as ordinary, but we must find balance between the ordinary and the unicorns, or we miss out on the magic of this life.
Because art speaks so strongly to the soul, we want to believe it is special. But, if we’re not careful all we do is take away the beauty of the every day. We take away enjoying a sunrise on our back porch with a cup of coffee. We take away the joy of the art of making a good cup of coffee because that’s something most of us do every day. We lose the art of the home when we say the home isn’t a well spring of creativity. If art is only regulated to one or two extra-gifted people, then the rest of life becomes a gray monotony of boredom.
If art is in every choice, if every choice is seen as a chance to grasp at beauty, to be creative, then the world around us, the mundane, becomes magical. We begin to share different artistic gifts. You make quilts. I write stories. She bakes cakes. He grows roses. We can share, bathe, in the beauty of different gifts. The mundane again, becomes magical.
Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t make art more than it is, and don’t miss out on the art around you. It’s not an idol. It’s a gift. Use it. Enjoy it. Seek it out in its brown garb and its golden gown. See both! Open your eyes to the joy of spotless dishes and a meal created in love and shared with others. There is your art, my dear friends. There is the art of the everyday. There is the artist in us all.