Thursday, September 6, 2012

What the first-grader taught me about the purple journal

I’ve had this swelling urge to do something different, burst out of my usual and express unadulterated, uncensored creativity. I could get out my stained glass, but it is so messy and the family balks at the remnant solder lead balls and flakes of glass on the dining table, the only surface large enough to contain the paraphernalia.

And so, for the tenth time, I pick up this journal and run my fingers over the purple-dyed cover embedded with delicately veined leaves, bound with two sticks of bamboo by someone in India. 
Each time after I touch the empty white pages, I close it, afraid my efforts will mar the simple elegance that should be contained there. Thoughts of wisdom or etchings of artistry.

My reluctance reminds me of the first and last time I subbed for a first-grade teacher. Better suited to work with people who can reason and not cry—eighth grade and above—I should have turned the assignment down, but finances forced an unwise decision.

Twenty eager little faces, like puppies expecting a treat, waited as I distributed their art supplies. Everyone diligently absorbed themselves in the teacher’s designated project, but when I told them they had five more minutes before I collected the papers, one little girl started sobbing.

A line had not strung out the way she imagined, and she refused to accept the delinquent product. No way was she going to turn that in.

At first I tried my soothing, sympathetic voice: “It’s ok, sweetie.”

Sweetie didn’t buy it. She clenched her crayon and declared no it wasn’t.

Resourceful teacher I, I brought out my bright, full of possibility voice: “Look, just color over this line and it can be a . . .  .”

Unappeased One cried louder. She hunkered down with that drawing and flat out refused to budge. It was ruined. Period. Nineteen nervous faces watched as Frustrated Artist and Substitute teacher faced off.

By this time, I really wanted to haul out my life’s-tough-get-over-it voice, but discerned that was not the best approach for a six-year-old. I wish I could tell you how this ended, but ironically all I remember is the conflict, not the resolution.

 And it’s that conflict—the lack in skills to express the beauty as felt in my own soul and mind that I am facing down today.

How can you capture the longing for God? How can you express a beauty felt but not seen?

This I know. Christ is the perfection of beauty. I am not.


It is for freedom that Christ has set me free. Not to be enslaved by self doubt, self consciousness, self criticism.

And so I put pen and paint to paper and delight in marring that perfectly white page with my primitive expression of the verse that has embedded in my mind this week. And if that weren't enough, I rejoice that I dare share it with you.
Is something tugging at your heart that you long to punch through? 

You may not be able to harness Christ’s creative power that called worlds into being, but he is in you and for that, be brave. Be empty of the critic that taunts you not to burst through that shell.

Try something new this week and if you will, come back and share it.


  1. THAT'S IT! That's EXACTLY how I feel! I am that little girl. How did you know? What a blessing this post is - what an absolute blessing, my friend.

  2. Hi Lori, Loved it....Been busy trying to unleash my creativity and sometimes it is hard to do..Been spending a lot of time outside since it cooled off and got some rain...Have not forgot you. A friend posted a neat picture, cartoon on my Facebook page it is so cute. It really lifted my spirits right before I read this, so yours put me over the top.. It says. " I want to be so full of Jesus, that when a mosquito bites me it starts singing, There is power in the Blood. Loved it. Thanks for the icing on the cake....

  3. Wow...this ooozed with creativity, from what you wrote to your end product as demonstrated on the picture. You are quite talented, my wonder you wanted to unleash that creativity God granted you. What a blessing.

  4. Great post, Marcia. You've hit the nail on the head when it comes to letting perfectionism stop you in your tracks, despite what other people say.

    This weekend will be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

  5. You are one of the most talented people I know. You can add delightful artist to your resume! Love it! ♥


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