From Consumer to Creator

Day 69 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

God began to convict my heart about the amount of media I consume a while ago. My husband would tell you that I have a long-standing sensitivity in this area. Over our 15 years of marriage I have regularly taken inventory of what I’m putting in my mind, body, soul – a healthy habit that I highly recommend. But this year was different. During our fast at the beginning of the year, I fasted TV and movies for over 40 days and the most remarkable shift happened: I moved from being a consumer to a creator.

As image bearers of Christ, we were created to create not merely consume.

In Ephesians 2:10 Paul encourages us that, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT) God desires that we use the creative gifts He has given each of us. As we create, we are walking out His purpose for in lives, for His glory. I recently really enjoyed reading Rebekah Lyons new book, Rhythms of Renewal, and I love how she defines create “using your specific talents, skills, and callings to live deeper into your God-given purpose, to create something that blesses him and the world around you” (page 221).

We live in a culture with an insatiable hunger for entertainment. It is so easy to fall into the gluttony of the “Netflix & chill” mindset and completely miss the purpose for which God created us. What’s worse is often this mindset trickles into how we view our relationship with God. Many desire to be entertained more than they want to be transformed. Attending church solely to be entertained with their favorite type of music, speaker, décor etc., rather than desiring to use their gifts in obedience to Christ and in service of His call and purpose. Getting bored with reading the Bible or prayer because it’s not exciting enough. Constantly seeking entertainment and consumption.

It is impossible to create when you are constantly consuming. Think about it! When we are too busy consuming the creations, lives, and stories of others – that is time taken away from creating big or small for the glory of God. Don’t get me wrong, I love to enjoy the beautiful creative works of others but I’m advocating for balance and a season of introspection.

“No matter our age, dreams get squashed when our lives are consumed with entertainment and technology” (Rebekah Lyons, Rhythms of Renewal, page 227). Consuming was literally robbing me of fulfilling my dreams and walking in my God given purpose. Unplugging the TV for 40+ days allowed the space in my brain and in my life to dream again. I began to use my hands and mind to make things, write, and dream like I haven’t in such a long time. To use Rebekah Lyon’s analogy, this time allowed me to build a creative rhythm back into my life that was long overdue.

As I stood in the kitchen for hours yesterday prepping our meals for the week, I stood back and thanked God for the opportunity to create meals with my hands, for His glory. I thanked Him for the necessary shift that has taken place in my life. Creating isn’t limited to arts & crafts. It is using the gifts God has given you, in the way He has wired you, for His glory. I’m convinced that our ability to create is limited more by our own over consumption than any other circumstance. Over consumption is literally robbing the world of what you and I were made to create. I pray that my own journey will be the catalyst you need to seek balance and move from a consumer to a creator.

Journal & Process

-What are the dreams that God has placed within your heart?

-What adjustments to your consumption need to take place in order to walk boldly in your purpose?

-What is limiting your ability to create?

5 Daily Actions

Day 62 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

Last year I heard a powerful talk by John C. Maxwell that made a huge impact in my daily habits. Within his talk he shared what he calls “The Power of Five”, and of course he has a whole book about it that I cannot wait to read, here’s the link in case you want to dive in. During his point on the importance of consistency he shared with the audience 5 things that he does every single day of his life. Five essential, invaluable actions that he repeats over and over and over again. These actions in and of themselves were simple & straight forward, yet they are critical in helping him accomplish his call and purpose.

After hearing his talk, my husband and I were challenged to pray about and write down our own 5 daily actions. These are 5 actions unique to each individual that are essential to our mental, spiritual, & physical health. They are also invaluable to our purpose and calling. As I share mine, try to think about what your 5 daily actions might be. Some might be the same, but some might be totally different which is to be expected. I have noticed that as I engage in these 5 daily actions, they make a HUGE difference on my sanity throughout this crisis. My mood is happier, my hopes are up, and I’m able to be patience, kind, and loving toward my family. Y’ALL these 5 daily actions are a lifeline from Heaven that are making such a big difference for me. I wonder if yours would have the same affect for you???

First, I pray! My prayer time begins with a few moments of silence & stillness in the presence of God. I focus my mind and heart on Him, surrendering my fears and receiving His love. Then I pray through several lists of needs from our church, family, friends, ministries we support etc. As I intercede for these loved ones, laying their needs in the capable and mighty hands of Jesus, an interesting thing happens. I feel lighter & happier – like the burden I was carrying was literally transferred to Jesus and now I’m not weighed down by it.

Second, I write. If you’re new around here I’m a very big advocate for journaling. Throughout the quarantine I’ve begun each journal entry the same – partially to record this amazing moment in His-story and partly because I wake up each day literally not knowing what day it is, lol! Here’s what today’s entry looked like:  Thursday, May 14, 2020 at home QD 62 (quarantine day).

As I journal, I share a summary of our activities from the previous day – to be noted I don’t normally treat my journal like a diary, although you totally can but each day is so unique during this crisis and I want to be able to go back to this time years from now and reflect on this season in greater detail. I will also write a prayer to the Lord with anything on my heart that day. Then as I continue my time with Jesus, I use my journal as a space to record all the many things He speaks to my heart through His word. I’ll write verses that pop out at me, even whole passages. Something powerful takes place in my heart when I’ve not only read a verse but read it out loud and written it down. Those extra steps seem to cement the truth deep within my heart and memory banks. This space in my journal is precious to me, it’s like God’s love letter to me, beautifully crafted from our time together. Lots of times this writing becomes a blog post or is used as I serve others.Third I read. While reading my sole motivation is to PUT TRUTH IN. Listen, there are millions of things coming after our minds each day, it is critical to our sanity throughout this crisis to be vigilant with what we are putting in our minds. You are a gate keeper, choose wisely my friends. I begin with reading the Psalm & Proverb from that day’s date, then continue to whatever book in the Bible I’m studying at that time. I am currently devouring the fascinating truth within 1 & 2 Kings. As I read, I sit with my journal, my Bible, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Whenever I have a question, don’t understand what something means, or am curious about a detail from the Bible I whip out Dr. Evans Commentary and look it up. It’s like having the greatest Bible teacher in the world as a personal mentor – I highly recommend it.

At the beginning of 2020 I committed to read at least 1 chapter in a book per day. To date I have completed 16 books by staying consistent with this tiny little habit. What happened was a love for reading was birthed in me, after my 1 chapter was completed, I found myself longing to read more later in the day. There have been many times that I’ve chosen reading over watching the TV at night, who am I? John C. Maxwell says, “consistency compounds” and he is totally right.

Fourth I move. God beautifully designed movement as a vital part of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Moving is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. My hubby and I walk at least 30 minutes daily (weather permitting, while social distancing of course) and I can tell such a huge difference in my mood when we do. Moving allows us to think more clearly, talk through the day, and dream together.

Fifth I connect. Last but not least, I try to connect with family and friends every day. This looks like texts, calls, messages, video chats, and even Zoom hangouts. God created us as relational beings and connection with family & friends brings a level of perspective and hope that is much needed. Often, I am able to encourage someone who’s having a tough time, which then encourages me as well. Connection speaks truth to the lies of isolation, reminding me that I am not alone, and I am deeply loved.

As I pray, write, read, move, and connect I am grounded in God’s love and truth. I am building health habits that will compound, serving my calling & purpose. I am taking the best care possible of my mind, body, & soul. I hope these inspire you to pursue 5 daily actions both now and far beyond this pandemic.

Journal & Process

-What are 5 daily actions that are essential to YOUR purpose?

-What adjustments will you need to make as you begin to walk in these actions?

-What is your mind, body, & soul craving in this season?