My brain is bursting with creative ideas today! We're 2.5 weeks away from the Launch Your Vision conference and book release, and while my team and I are brainstorming and planning the final pieces, and I just had to throw in a short film into the mix! Our cast and crew are a tribe of beautiful people who are rallying to create an epic short film about raising up warriors who run with their purpose. Lots of beauty!
The title of this week's photo is “much fruit,” and speaks of using different ways to honor Christ. To start, I'd like to dispel myth that is often spoken to creative people: “You can only do one thing.” I remember interviewing Church Girard, a pioneer of Jesus Music during the 1970's, who challenged artist in this idea.
“You need to do all God has called you to do. Maybe you're called to music, but perhaps God has also called you to pastor a church or do some other type of ministry. You're responsible for everything He has placed inside of you!”
We see this played out in the creative industry right now: no longer are published authors only expected to write books. They also write blogs, create photos for social media, record podcasts, and use various forms of media to communicate their message. The stereotypical view of a “singer” or “author” who only does one thing doesn't work any more in our culture, and unless you have a huge team to do it for you, it's your job to do multiple types of media.
For me, this viewpoint has been liberating. I have a lot of creativity, and I love to use it in different ways! Now the challenge is to partner creativity with intentional focus so that I'm meeting some goals. With that in mind, I challenge myself: Do everything that is in your heart, as long as you can do it with excellence. This is one step closer to seeing fruit for God's Kingdom come from our creative work, as we do everything to the best of our ability as an offering to Him.
Maybe you're like me, and you love to create. Maybe instead of waiting for a huge budget, you can figure out ways to create a plan and invite people into it. It can be so much fun! This month I'll have my hands on cameras, linen fabric, herbal tea bags, microphones, and marshmallows... all in an effort to create something beautiful that tells a story of God's love. We get to partner with Him in many ways!
Jesus told His disciples that He loves us to bear MUCH fruit: maybe that happens as we ask Him for creative ways to communicate! What would happen if we asked God to help us do ALL He created us to be?
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Prayer: Lord, help me not to confine You to one thing in my life, when You have given me more than one gift or talent. Show me how to abide in You, and bring forth much fruit for Your Kingdom.
IN THE NEWS
My new book, “Launch Your Vision” is now available for pre-purchase! It's my most raw, honest, vulnerable book to date, as I share about times of deep frustration as an artist and feeling "stuck," and also points of liberation where I was able to shift my mindset and embrace freedom to follow God in my creative gifts. It's divided into three parts:
Ready: Prepare your Heart
Aim: Build your strategy
Fire: Release your Vision
Each chapter has 10 questions and spaces to journal as you craft your personal creative strategy! Check out the link to see what others are saying about the book, and how those who have previewed it have stepped into a new place of freedom. Pre-order your copy today!
Well, this week I'm a little late getting out the devotional email. Whoops! I'm just back from a week in Texas spending time with my dad and speaking at a lovely women's ministry event. Time for laundry, running errands, office work, and working on a new project that included a quick hike to a mountain top at sunset to shoot some press photos. After the shoot, I ate some pasta with a friend next door, edited photos... and it's finally time to write to you! :-)
Instead of a picture today, I'd like to send you another piece of art that has a fun story behind it.. hope it will be a blessing! I filmed this music video on the Irish coast over the summer, and several of the locations are pretty special to me and those who love Celtic history. As always, I don't create art with a big budget or huge crew. Instead, I love adventures and the journey that comes with them, and this video is no exception! You could even say it "went off with a bang..."
The song "In Awe" was written over 10 years ago, but it's been on my heart again recently, so I decided to add some Irish whistles to the track and re-release it. My Scottish friend Linette Penney-Gainham agreed to play her whistles, so I caught the train from Glasgow to visit her.
As the train neared the stop just before her town, there was a loud BOOM sound and a very odd smell. The conductor soon moved all the passengers into another car, saying that there had been some kind of explosion and possibly a fire in the bottom of the train car, and they might have to cancel the train line. I started praying that the whole train wouldn't explode. Thankfully, I was able to exit the train and call my friend at the next stop, who drove through the rainy streets to "collect me" as I stood with my yellow umbrella and a few (rather soggy) roses at the station.
After a glad reunion and lunch, we tromped out to a castle ruin (the rain had stopped by then) to record for the song. I had brought my audio recorder and earbuds, so the whistles you hear in the song come directly from the Scottish ruins.
The video was filmed along the east coast of Ireland, starting at a beach with a lighthouse. (A friend dropped me off one day when we had some spare time, and for about two hours I filmed and put some creative juice to work!)
The film also features a lovely overlook I happened to visit with friends. They are also pretty artistic and know my love for a good view, so they humored me to film a few takes, and Linsey shot this photo overlooking the Irish Sea. I set up the camera on a tripod, then played the song from my phone and ran in front of the camera to sing the song! Lol, one of those things you feel so crazy doing and hope it will pay off and look awesome.
Also filmed at an ancient Celtic site that dates back to the 6th century, founded by disciples of St. Patrick. This particular site is really special... it's hidden away down a winding road away from cities and larger tourist attractions. The community of Christians thrived here, and there is a sun dial clock that they used to mark the hours of prayer... six times a day. For me, it's a "thin place," and I fall in love with this sweet spot a little harder each time I visit.
So here is the finished video! Listen to the whistles and imagine yourself with us in the ancient ruins... and stroll down the coast as we worship our beautiful Lord who paid such a price to be close to us. Enjoy!
Prayer: Lord, awaken my heart to fall in love with your beauty and stand in awe of You in fresh ways!
Confession: recently, my mind has been dwelling on certain things I can never change, have no influence over, and probably are none of my business! It's easy to get frustrated, especially when we care a lot for people and see them going a different way than we wish... but worrying won't change a thing. After sharing my heart with good friends and praying together, I've had to take a step back and reserve my attention for the things that I really am responsible for. This is where today's picture comes into play..
"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:7a
The Hebrew word "rest" in this verse means: "to be dumb, to stop, quiet self, rest, be silent, tarry."
This verse provides a powerful to key to overcoming worry or frustration around situations that are bigger than our reach. This specific directive couldn't be clearer: STOP TALKING- and that includes the chatter of the inner mind. Still your soul, Rebecca. Pause. Embrace silence. Entrust the things you care about to God.
"Wait patiently" is a single Hebrew word with a radical meaning: "to twist or whirl in a circular or spiral manner, specifically to dance..." This word is translated into various words in English. For instance, is could mean "dance," or it could mean to birth, like Psalm 29:9 which says that God's voice makes the "hinds to calve," and "calve" is this dancing Hebrew word. Other times it's interpreted as "fear," or even "formed." I'm not a scholar, but this Hebrew word seems to denote a verb of passion, motion, and even creativity.
In our waiting, dancing before the Lord, and trusting Him, God is able to bring forth the things we cannot. It's amazing to see how He reveals His work when we let go... (let's face it, sometimes we're clinging too tightly to see His hands at work.) From this place of wonder, movement, and rest, He aligns His perfect will and invites us along for the ride.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust You with things that I cannot change. Resting, dancing, and waiting as You align and unfold Your perfect will.
Sometimes I create a photo and I'm not quite sure if I'm happy with it... like the one in this email. I started the concept about a year ago, but it looked a little weird... I worked on it again today and went for a different editing approach: more of an old oil painting feel. To be honest, I'm still not sure I love it! But I thought it would be a good photo to send because the message is on my heart right now. So here's the photo entitled, The Watch.
It was created with photos I shot in Texas, Scotland, and Alaska!
There's so much to do in our busy lives... our culture offers SO MANY OPTIONS and our time is precious. When Jesus calls us to watch and pray, this isn't always an easy thing to make happen. It means setting time aside to be still, listening to the Holy Spirit, and praying over the things in our lives. Yet, prayer is one of the most valuable things we can invest our time into! As we take our position in prayer, we begin to have a clearer perspective concerning what's going on, and we partner with the One who can change things for the best.
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Prayer: Lord, I want to make time to pray! Remind me how important this is, and help me to trust that my prayers make a difference when I seek You and put You first.
Today I ran a photo contest on social media to brainstorm the title of this new photo. I actually created it late last night when it was dark and I didn't feel like going to bed yet! I had a few ideas of what it could be, so I asked my social friends to give their feedback. The two winners chosen were the titles “Beginning” and “Equipped,” which I'll combine to entitle it, “Equipped for a New Beginning.” Seeing that today is Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, I think it's a great reminder that God is equipping us for the new season!
Here's to new beginnings and a fresh season (and decade) to explore more of God's plans and creative callings for our lives! I love how Scripture reminds us that God's GRACE is what equips us, not anything that we can or have to muster up in our own strength. We simply receive the Father's gift of love that's already been paid for by Jesus.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
2 Timothy 1:9
No matter what kind of season we've just come through (good, bad, or simply busy!), we can always "reset" and trust God's grace for the new season ahead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to what You have given me, and show me how to apply it for the season ahead!
Recently I was faced with a leadership challenge that caused my heart to mumble, If I only had...
Maybe you can fill in the blank: if I only had more funding, people, resources, time, space... then I'd be able to accomplish my goals and see my dreams become reality. In my moment of frustration, I heard the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit say, Use what you have. I took a quick breath and adjusted my perspective: I don't have to have MORE, I reminded myself, I just need eyes to see what I already HAVE and build the skills and wisdom to utilize it well. I realized that God was not wanting to give me more, but to help me see how to be faithful with what I had the moment.
What you have, combined with the Holy Spirit's anointing and God's provision, is always enough for the next step. Jesus always used items within His reach to meet the need and spread God's love: five loaves and two fish, a coin from a fish's mouth, and a mud for a blind man's eyes. Sometimes He borrowed things, like a boat to preach from or a donkey to ride on, to add to His story. He changed the world with 12 men and amazing stories that still apply to our world today. Jesus used what He had and leaned on God's provision for the rest, always following the Father at each step.
In my creative journey, I've discovered that God gets so much glory from multiplying the “little” we have in resources to do much for His Kingdom. When we are faithful to use what He gives, it's amazing how anointed creativity accomplishes far more than having a big budget. Recently I was showing my film “Thin Places” about the Celtic saints in Ireland and Scotland, and people began to say,
“This looks like a million dollar budget film, and it's hard to believe that Rebecca isn't Irish because she's telling the story of our history so clearly!”
Inwardly, I laughed, because I knew I'd filmed the whole project with 2, well-used DSLR cameras and worked with 4 drone pilots to get the footage. Only one of the pilots were professional, and everyone else in the film were volunteers I'd dressed up in robes and put dirt on their faces to create the LOTR look I hoped would work for my audience. Some of the robes I'd created from wool blankets I'd found in a wardrobe, and others were crafted from heavy woolen blankets I found at a Army/Navy supply story. (It can be tough to find heavy woolen fabric!) When filming on beaches in Scotland, people constantly asked,
“Are you filming for Outlander or Star Wars?” It was pretty funny.
Partner all that with the fact that I can be pretty resourceful, but I sometimes need extra grace to balance everything that goes on in my brain... hoping people are up for the adventure as they come along with me to do something creative... like stand in a river, walk through a swamp, or climb a mountain with a bunch of chain mail and armor. I'm so grateful for friends who help me tell these stories! Somewhere along the way, the Holy Spirit infuses an authenticity and relevance into the projects we create with Him.
So what is your dream? What can you do to take the next step? Sometimes God brings a huge moment to launch us into our dreams, but most often it's the intentional steps forward that gain the most traction and bring us toward our goals. You can watch God move, one step at a time!
Prayer: Lord, is there a dream that You've placed on my heart for this season? What is the next step I can take in moving forward, using what I have, to accomplish that goal? Are there people in my life who will come along for this journey?
The last month has been a fantastic blur of colorful experiences in Ireland and Scotland while touring my new film Thin Places: Stories of Celtic Community and Extraordinary Faith. While the scenery was wonderful and the weather reasonably nice (although I did lead worship outdoors in the rain several times!), the true beauty of the trip was getting to draw a bit closer to the people who live there. Sitting with old and new friends over tea and good conversation was simply a delight! I fell in love with Irish sarcasm and old stories. :-)
Only a crazy person would go to another country and tell people about their history-- and I felt a bit silly as an American telling the Celts who they are and what they carry. My Irish friends were a bit shocked when I took them to museums they'd never been to and hills where the angels still camped, telling them that the Celtic Church is often considered the closest to the first century church that we have on record. No one teaches Celtic church history in schools, so they were dumbfounded and I felt a bit shy. After we had a good, hard laugh at ourselves, we were amazed at what God was revealing. They marveled at their history, and I marveled how God was revealing a message for today from the ancient past. We listened and learned from each other.
If we approach life as eternal students, God can use the stuff from every day life to build our wings. Maybe the story that will change your life is inside the person next to you. Or perhaps the next book you pick up will give you the needed “next steps” for your journey. There's always a chance that God may send you around the world to listen, learn, and even tell a story that touches others (– He's funny about things like that!). The stories we hear change us... the stories we tell change the world.
I challenge you to become a good listener, cultivate great conversations (and good tea), and discover the gold in those around you that will build your wings for the next flight. And learn to tell good stories... this world needs more bold, crazy people who partner with the Holy Spirit and craft captivating tales.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to listen with a pure heart. Show me how to cultivate good conversation, not because I need to be heard, but so that I can be a safe place for others. And from that place we can all learn to fly with You.
“Most artists begin their journey like lovers waiting to be pursued. Our hearts are so eager yet shy, waiting for someone to help us spread our wings – a fairy godmother to make us spectacular with just a flick of her wand, or the Simon Cowell to pick us out from the crowd and give us a platform. We might not admit it, but most of us think that having someone “discover us” would make our creative lives a lot easier.”
These are the opening words of my new book, Launch Your Vision, coming in November. Lol, I know, I just released a book, but this one is self-published and has been in the works for a long time, just waiting for the right moment to share it. I used to believe that I needed someone to open a huge door for me to be successful, and while many people have been helpful in propelling me forward, no one ever gave me a million dollars or created the perfect platform to spread my creative wings. I used to be frustrated by this, and even disappointed in God's lack of provision, until I picked up some some powerful, Biblical keys that changed the entire way I looked at the process.
For years I felt stuck in my creativity and had no idea how to pursue my dreams-- but not anymore! What is the key to partnering with God and watching Him bring fruit to our creative journey? I've come up with a strategy I use in all my creative projects, called Ready, Aim, Fire! The cool thing is that it works for every type of creative project!
It's not a magical formula, but rather a strategic outline that you can customize for your personal journey. I like to tell people:
Formulas are what babies eat.
Strategies are used by kings.
It's interesting to see this principle unfold in Scripture. When writing to his son who was soon to become king, King Solomon writes:
If you solicit good advice, then your PLANS will succeed. So don’t charge into battle without wisdom, for wars are won by skillful strategy.
Proverbs 20:18 (The Passion Translation)
The word PLANS in Hebrew means: intention, imagination, invented. It's the same word translated, “artistic works” in Exodus 31:1-4, when God called an artist and filled him with the Holy Spirit to build the Tabernacle.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design ARTISTIC WORKS...”
God doesn't often send a fairy godmother to magically touch our dreams, but He does offer us wise counsel and strategy on how to unpack them!
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the keys of wisdom that will unlock Your call on my life. Help me not to be passive, but an active seeker, listening for Your heartbeat and trusting You to unfold the journey!
Stay tuned for more info on the coming book!
Over the past few months, I've been reminded of some powerful lessons about walking out our identity in Christ. I'm pretty vocal about speaking life over people, reminding them who they are, and offering coaching on how to see God's gifts and calling in their lives. Some people receive this encouragement with excitement, find the strength to walk out this identity with humility, and even “slay the dragons” that attempt to keep them back from being all God calls them to be. Others walk away with a sense of entitlement and attempt to carry out their calling without fully embracing the discipline and courage to crucify their flesh and follow godly principles that lead to true fruit. In my personal life, the more I discover God's plan for my life, the more I come to constant forks in the road that require me to either take the “high road” and walk it out or simply turn my back on God's plan. Walking out your identity takes a lot of courage.
We all love the story of the Ugly Duckling: the awkward, misfit chick who lives among the ducks and eventually discovers his true identity as a swan. However, this discovery still requires a choice: will he shift his mindset from duckling behavior to that of a graceful swan? Or will he still carry the habits of duckling-hood into his adult life as a swan?
One difference between ducks and swans is that ducks can drink saltwater from the ocean, while swans typically do not. In this picture, I captured the photo of swans on a Scottish beach where the ocean is known to be especially salty. This “ballet of swans” (which is what a group of swans is called) swam along the shoreline for quite a while until they came to a place where a fresh water stream flowed into the sea. They could drink the water because it was near to the spring's mouth, and it was a beautiful moment to watch them quench their thirst.
Just like the swan, we must have courage and discernment, feeding ourselves with that which is healthy for our new identity. It takes fortitude, determination, and a commitment to follow the Holy Spirit as He leads us to discern the fresh water that will truly satisfy our thirst and make us strong. Choosing to be discerning and take initiative is part of embracing our true identity.
Prayer: Father, please show me who I am in You, and teach me how to walk this out every day. Give me the strength and fortitude to become discerning and hear You clearly as I grow in my identity in Christ.
To unpack more of your identity in Christ, read Bible studies on the topic of authentic beauty, and find personal questions to help you grow, pick up a copy of my new book Finding Beautiful! It's hardcover with full color photos and 12 makeover stories of young women who help us define God's perspective of beauty for women today.
I created this photo to show an unusual door in a wilderness, representing times where God shows up in unique ways when life looks hopeless. I love the promise in Hosea where God speaks to the nation of Israel who is going through a very difficult time:
There I will give back her vineyards to her
and transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope.
Hosea 2:15 The Living Bible paraphrase
A real life example of this can be found in the makeover story I captured of Katherine Chapman, a young woman with a heart for beauty and a message of hope that we can all relate to.
As we filmed on a back porch in Southern California, I could immediately tell that Kat wanted nothing less than sincere authenticity in every part of her life- including our interview. She told her story with the same transparency she lived, daring to touch every emotion in its purest, uncluttered form and treasuring the sacredness of each one. She wanted us to meet her joy and pain, and feel at peace with both, because she was.
As a child, Kat had longed for beauty. One day, crammed into the station wagon with her siblings, she had spied a ballerina figurine in a dance studio window and voiced her dream.
“Someday, I'd like to be a ballerina.”
“You can't do that,” one of her siblings scoffed, “because ballerinas are beautiful.”
Mortified, Kat's shoulders slumped with shame. I guess my dreams of being beautiful, glorious, and known are of no value, she mused.
Years later, when Kat married and entered motherhood, she found herself facing a new kind of shame. After seven miscarriages (including four in one year) she felt like a failure, since her body was unable to protect the little child she wanted so badly to love. After one particularly traumatic miscarriage, she wrapped the tiny body of her child and dug a grave in the cold dirt of her backyard. Weeping, she told her husband,
“I don't want to be God's needy little girl – I want to be strong, and bold, and brave.”
“Maybe that's it,” her husband responded. “Maybe God doesn't want you to be strong... maybe He just wants you to be His little girl and let Him hold you.”
Slowly, Kat started realizing she didn't need to perform for God's approval, and that He wasn't ignoring her pain. She could feel every moment and talk to Him about it, leaning on Him for strength, and enjoying the moments of beauty that He sent her way.
One day in the shower, Kat began to pinpoint the battlefield in her mind. Itemizing the lies that tormented her, she isolated the attacks and began to call them out.
Fear- I'm afraid of singing in front of a microphone
Doubt- what if God doesn't meet my needs?
Hopelessness- am I valuable enough to merit God's love?
I will only bow my knee to You, God! She vowed. These other 'gods' that want my attention are not going to win!
There in the shower, she began to sing the words:
I will follow
I will pursue
I will seek You
Above any other
Above any other god
Above any other love
Above any other name
Little did she know that this song would become an anthem during a worship movement that swept her city, and this simple chorus would bring healing to people who needed a voice to express their pain and trust in God. Kat's Valley of Trouble had become a Door of Hope.
Read Kat's full story in the book, Finding Beautiful: Discovering Authentic Beauty Around the World.