An Invitation to Celebrate a Life Creative

I was twenty years old, and I was living alone in Kiev, Ukraine.

Not totally alone, of course. I was living with a young, Ukrainian couple who spoke English (but often refused to speak it because they wanted me to become fluent in Russian), but I didn’t have any peers with me on the trip.

I was in Ukraine for two solid months before I even met another American. Looking back, I know this was a good thing. It forced me to adapt to the culture and the language, and it made me brave.

But I was lonely those four months. Trying to communicate in another language is exhausting. In the early days when I was completely alone, my only respite came from 3:00-4:00 in the afternoons after school.

I’d arrive home to an empty apartment and turn on the TV. Beverly Hills 90210 played weekday afternoons, and the translation lagged just enough behind the English that I could tune it out and listen to the show in my native tongue.

I never watched that show as a young girl, but I saw nearly every episode in Ukraine. I became well acquainted with Brandon, and Brenda, and Dillan, and Kelly, and all the others whose names I can’t remember now…

Outside of riveting television, though, I found my greatest comfort inside the pages of my journals. I wrote until my hand hurt, recording everything from the mundane moments of my days to the hysterical gaffes I made (I slipped on ice and fell on my butt more than once rushing to and from school).

After a weekend excursion to Prague, I came home with an English language copy of the book Jane Eyre, which I’d found in a little store near Charles Bridge. I devoured that book twice in my remaining months in Ukraine, and suddenly my journal pages were filled with poetic imagery. I used language like, “the leaves dance to the ground in a silent waltz,” and “the birds soar above my head on wings of freedom.”


Twenty-Year-Olds who have too much alone time, that’s who.

It’s been 18 years since that life-changing experience. 18 years since I sat on a bench on a Ukrainian hillside overlooking the Dnieper River, and vowed to become a storyteller.

The book that began simmering and bubbling in my heart all those years ago is now receiving rave reviews, and I still can’t believe that dream came true.

But what’s even more amazing is that it was just the beginning. That was only the first spark in my creative journey. It’s been a slow burn, sometimes dimmed by the pressures of every day life.


Motherhood slowed down the dream, but in a good way, because motherhood was a dream in and of itself. I’m living both dreams side-by-side, and it’s a messy little blending of the two. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because this is better than anything I could have imagined 18 years ago as a lonely American student in Ukraine.

It’s also harder than I thought it would be.

Beautiful. Hard. Messy. Dream.

Those words all fit together in this puzzle of life. They’re tangled up, each piece getting its turn to take the spotlight.

In just one short month, my second book hits shelves.


Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom releases on September 27. This is a book written for moms who are walking the line between motherhood and art. It’s a book for moms who had dreams long before they had children, and they want to know if it’s possible to blend the two parts of themselves.

[Tweet “Life Creative celebrates moms fitting their inspired lives into the ordinary places of motherhood.”]

Would you like to read an early release copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom? The launch team is forming, and a PDF copy of the book is available for download for a limited time.

Click here to sign up for the launch team. You’ll be sent instructions on how to download the book, as well as how to join a private Facebook group for launch team members.


Creative moms are coming together and linking arms, all of us agreeing that this life creative is equal parts grand and exhausting. We’d love to have you join us as we bring this encouraging message to all the moms who remember dreaming on a hillside so many years ago.

Join the Life Creative Launch Team today!

Because Creativity Wasn’t Meant to Be Lived Alone


We met for coffee on a balmy day. It was one of those Tampa days that makes you feel like maybe God loves Florida just a little more than any other place: 77 degrees, light breeze, salty air, and a few seagulls for effect – it was simply a lovely afternoon.

She drank her Americano, and I sipped my Chai Tea Latte, and we talked together about creativity.

I’m a writer; words are my escape from the world around me. Strung together, these words fill the canvas of my mind. They are my art, and I see the colors in each well thought out sentence.

She’s a baker. Her canvas is shortbread, and on it she paints with icing, creating images that are truly works of art, and that taste as good as they look.

We’re both moms, each of us trying to fit our art into our daily lives, and to figure out how to use these gifts of ours to the benefit of others.

“See,” she said to me, her eyes hidden behind dark glasses so that I could see the reflection of the palm trees behind me, “I didn’t always see what I do as being that useful.”

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, I see what you do, how your words impact others, and it seems so valuable. But when I looked at what I was doing it all felt so…froofy.”

I smiled, because the word ‘froofy‘ is funny, and it should be employed more in the English language.

“I make cookies. Like, that’s all I’m doing. I see the value in great writing and music and art, but in a plate full of cookies? It just felt so silly.”

I nodded, and I blinked back a couple of tears, because there we sat, two creative moms, both of us trying to figure out how these things we loved fit into the grand canvas of this world.

We’re both so uniquely different, and yet we’re strikingly similar. And maybe you find yourself sidling up to the proverbial table with us.



There’s a unique Renaissance happening right now. Open up any online device, and you might notice it. Art and creativity are oozing through the internet’s pores, begging us all to see the world in different ways.

With the explosion of sites like Pinterest and Instagram, artists around the world have found a platform to showcase their God-given abilities.

And many of those artists are moms, showcasing their art from inside their homes.

They’re posting gorgeous pictures of their children, of their beautifully decorated homes. They make us drool over their spectacular cakes, and ponder life as we read their poetic words. We’re breathless at the photography, the paintings, the songs, and the beauty of it all.

My friend Wendy and I have watched this Renaissance explosion, and we’ve been entirely enamored by it. We started discussing ways that we could affirm these creative moms two years ago. Because while we see all the various forms of art displayed on our computer screens, we also know that it isn’t easy.

It’s hard to walk that line between art and motherhood. It’s hard to balance the need to create with the need to keep a house running smoothly. We see the beauty behind the photos where mom finds herself desperate for a few moments to dive into those parts of her soul that cry out for pretty things, and yet her time is limited.

So we wrote a book about it!

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom hits bookshelves September 27, and in it we dive deeper into this God-design of artistry and motherhood, and how the two melded together can look so messy and beautiful all at once.


As we prepare to launch this book into the world, we want to develop a community of women who celebrate one another. We want this to be a place where the cookie bakers and the photographers, the writers and home decorators, the jam makers, handmade shop owners, and artists of the world come together and rejoice in the beauty of art and motherhood all mashed up together.

This is a place for anyone who’s ever felt that maybe her gift was just a little too…froofy. This is for all moms, no matter what season of motherhood you’re in.

Wendy and I, along with our friend Alle McClosky, have launched an Instagram community specifically for those of you who are trying to fit the creativity into your life. It’s a place to be inspired, to build one another up, to share each other’s art, and to remember that God had a unique purpose in mind when He created you creative.

Will you join us there today?

If you long to know more about this developing community, and to see your part in this online Renaissance, then sign up in the little green box to the right to receive these posts directly in your email inbox. I’d love to walk this Renaissance path together! 

One Thing Every Day

I get a lot of comments these days saying something to the effect of, “I don’t know how you keep up with all the things you’re doing. You must be superwoman!”

While I do appreciate this sentiment, the truth is I am not superwoman. Actually, I’m not super-anything. I don’t have any super powers, unless you count my ability to sense when the toddler is up to no good, and I could never pull off a skin tight super hero outfit.

I am ordinary…and that’s okay.

Most of us are ordinary. Perhaps even all of us are ordinary (unless you happen to be the actual superwoman reading this, in which case I’m willing to concede that you are more than ordinary).

We’re all doing the best we can inside each of our unique circumstances.

I used to think that in order to be successful, one had to be constantly in motion. But the more I push my way through this ordinary life of mine, the more I realize that success comes in the quiet moments – those quiet pockets of time when the frenzy dies down.

A few years ago, I attended a conference that was designed specifically for moms. On the second day, a woman stood in front of us, and she acknowledged the obvious: Moms don’t have a lot of time.


“What do you do,” she asked, “when you want to build your business, but the children are clamoring at your feet, and the moments in your day are parsed out?”

I leaned forward, ready to accept her answer to this question that often left me befuddled.

“You do one thing every day,” she said. The room was silent as a hundred moms with dreams soaked in this freeing nugget of wisdom.

“You can’t do all the things when you’re a mom, but you can do one thing. So do one thing every day that helps grow your business, develops your ideas, makes you money – whatever it is you’re working toward, keep pressing on, one step at a time.”

Yesterday was one of those days that seemed to spiral out of control. Between homeschool and toddlerhood, and all the life that crept into the cracks of my day, I found myself antsy and frustrated.

There simply wasn’t any time yesterday for me to sit and work.

By 8:00, I felt panic beginning to well up in my chest. I just wanted the kids to go to bed so the house would grow quiet, and I could find a moment to complete a thought.

It was 9:30 before I found that moment, and by then I was so exhausted the thoughts were tangled together, and I just wanted to go to bed myself, but I knew that if I could do just one thing I’d sleep a little more soundly.

As a writer, I’m finding this process of marketing books in the new media age to be rather intimidating. I’m not good with video or images – I’m a word girl. Facebook is my happy place because WORDS, all the WORDS!

Instagram bores me, and Pinterest intimidates me, and don’t even get me started on Periscope. But I need to step outside of this little comfortable box of mine, and I need to learn how to better utilize these online tools. So before bed, I went to Pinterest and poked around a bit.

I added a few photos to some character boards I’m developing for my book launch, and I looked at what other authors are doing on that platform.

This didn’t take a lot of time, and it didn’t require me to formulate any ideas. This was my one thing and it was all I had, but you know what?

I slept like a rock last night.

Doing one thing every day frees us up to enjoy the bigger picture. This season of my mothering life doesn’t offer loads of free time. I’ve got slivers of time in each day, and so I have to utilize those slivers to the best of my ability.

I slept so well last night because I went to bed knowing I’d done one thing. I didn’t toss and turn all night, chasing down ideas or fighting bitterness at all the stolen hours of my day. I felt a peace knowing I’d done something – one something – to get better at my job.

There will be other days when I can conquer my to-do list; days when the house is quiet and I can do a slew of book-related things. But those days are not the norm.

So I’ll keep doing one thing every day, then focus my attention on the children clamoring at my feet. And in this way, I manage to  survive this ordinary, maybe even slightly extraordinary, life.


The One Thing I Refuse

There’s a certain flaw in my personality. I know this comes as a shock to you, but it’s true. I am not perfect.

This certain flaw of mine resides firmly inside my stubbornness. I hate being told I have to do something.

Maybe you can relate?

Image Credit: Claudia Otte/

Image Credit: Claudia Otte/

My first reaction to someone telling me I have to do something is to dig my heels in and say, “Nope. Not gonna happen. Thanks for asking, though.”

Now that I’m a grown up girl, of course, I’ve gotten better at controlling this impulse. I’m better at listening and receiving advice, and much more willing to concede the wisdom of others than perhaps I once was.

But I still don’t like being told I have to do something.

Writing books is a funny business. You think the book writing part is the hard part, and to a degree it is. As a writer once famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” (This quote is most often attributed to Earnest Hemingway, but as it turns out, he wasn’t the one who said this. Thanks, internet, for ruining my morning.)

Once you get past the draining nature of bleeding onto paper (screen…whatever), you then get to enjoy the process of finding someone to validate your work. I thought that was the hard part, until I finally got set up with the agent and the publisher, and got back the first, second, and third round of edits.

Surely that was the hard part, right?

It turns out I was wrong about all of it. The hardest part of writing is the marketing and the launching and getting the word out there about all that bleeding you did on paper (screen…whatever).


When I’m not nursing sick babies (hello strep throat! You’re no longer welcome), homeschooling, shuttling from baseball to soccer to flag football to youth group to gymnastics, and trying to fit in conversations with my husband, I’m working on the launch plan for the books I’m releasing this year.

I’m not complaining about this – not in the slightest. It’s terribly exciting, and the process is invigorating, of only slightly overwhelming. But there’s one problem:

This process of launching books can take over your life.

Every spare moment I have – every quiet, free second when the kids are playing, or the baby is sleeping – I am working on my plan to launch these books. And the more that I feel pressured to do to make this a “successful” launch, the more I want to dig in my heels, shake my head, and say, “Nope. Not gonna happen. Thanks for asking, though.”

Here’s the thing: I see the wisdom in all these things. If I were to do everything that was recommended to successfully launch and market my books, I can quite easily see how it would work.

But I can also see how it can control a person.

It will be summertime when I launch my novel – the time of year when all my children are home all day every day. Those are short months we’re given each year in which we get to make memories – to enjoy one another as a family without all the pressures of life.

I refuse to be controlled by book launches. I refuse to sacrifice my summer, and my children’s summer, with marketing. So, what does that mean?

It means I have to be strategic. It means I’m listening to the advice of my launch manager who is helping me control my strategy so that it doesn’t control me. 

I’m working ahead of schedule as much as possible so that when summertime rolls around I’ve got a bulk of the work pre-done.

I’m listening to the words of wisdom, and I’m sifting through it, tailoring it to fit my life – the life of a mother with four young children who don’t necessarily need me to be a bestselling author.

They need me to be their mom.

Image Credit: jakkapan/

Image Credit: jakkapan/

Do I want to see these books thrive?


Would I love to hit a bestseller list?

Of course!

Am I will to put in the work to make that happen?

Yes…but not at the sacrifice of the people closest to me.

So I’m navigating these waters cautiously. I may not be doing as much as I should be. I’m dropping balls left and right (some of them here at home, and some of them in marketing).

But I refuse to be consumed completely.

[Tweet “Dreams are meant to be chased, but not at the expense of the ones I love most.”]

Turns out that stubbornness of mine comes in handy now and again.


The Magic of Exploration

Our little house sat nestled on a five-acre field, the sprawling Wisconsin woods providing the backdrop to what was a pretty idyllic scene. I was a child, so my memories of Wisconsin winters are filled with nothing more than magic. Hours spent tunneling through the snow, building igloos, eating snacks inside our burrowed out snow caverns in six and seven foot drifts.

We lived at the top of a large hill, so the neighborhood descended upon our back yard daily to sled. We’d bring out pitchers of water at the end of each day, and build up a ramp of snow, sprinkling it with water between each layer. By morning, we’d have a frozen solid launching pad for our toboggans.

My bedroom was on the second story, and I’d wake up each morning to look out over the stark white landscape, a wonderland of possibility for my imaginative mind. I didn’t need a wardrobe to reach Narnia. It waited for me in my backyard.

It’s easy to remember those Wisconsin years with great fondness. I was a child, and my only responsibility was to bundle up and give in to the imagination. As an adult, I shudder at the thoughts of frigid winters and snowy fields, but as a child?

I lived for winter.

When I was little, there were few things I enjoyed more than exploring. My brother and I would wake early and make plans to traverse the woods behind our house. Of course, during hunting season it was imperative that we wore bright colors and made enough noise to not be mistaken for deer, but in the summer, when the snow finally melted and the trees turned vibrant, we’d spend hours and hours in their shade.

There’s magic in exploration, and I miss it.


There are days when the mundane feels like a blanket over my head. The predictability of life presses down, and I find myself longing for those early years  when I was nothing more than the girl in the trees, swinging from one grand adventure to the next.

There are other days, however, when I’m completely smitten with this life I’m living. As the cooler Florida weather kisses my bare arms (I’ll take a Florida winter over a Wisconsin winter any day of the week now), I watch my husband and kids play in the backyard.

The boys kick the soccer ball, whooping and hollering in delight with each scored goal.

Tia flips and tumbles over her mats, the very same mats upon which I used to flip and tumble in my Wisconsin yard as a child, and I feel her delight as she takes in the world upside down.

And Annika tromps through the yard, high stepping over the areas where the grass is a little too high. Her face is filled with that rapturous delight that only toddlers possess when they’re given the freedom to roam unhindered.

All the sights and sound assail my senses, and I realize there’s plenty of adventure left. Some of the adventure is awesome, the imaginations of my small people lighting the path for grand adventures.

Some of the adventure I could do without – like broken bottles of nail polish and shattered snow globes, and everything else the rambunctious toddler longs to attack inside the house.

It’s all an adventure, even the monotony. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective, and a willingness to use your imagination. Because the truth is, we were made for adventure. We weren’t made for monotony because it leads to complacency, and there’s no power in complacency.

[Tweet “You and me – we were made for adventure.”]

If you sit back and think about it, I imagine you’re seeking adventure just like I am. Maybe you’re an obvious thrill seeker, always open and game for the next wild endeavor.

Or maybe you’re a homebody, content to stay nestled inside your comfort zone.

But I imagine you still long for adventure. 

So what does adventure look like for you? Is it the challenge of your work? Is it the delight you take in watching your children grow? Is it travel? Do you find adventure in a good book, or in the creativity of your every day life?

What is it that breaks you free from the monotony of the day to day? When was your last adventure?

Has it been too long?

Helen Keller told us that “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” If this is true, and if you believe it, then what are you doing to enjoy the ride?

Happy Tuesday, friends. Make today an adventure.


How Does She…

She crawls out of bed, her feet padding lightly against the cold, tile floor. Moving almost silently past closed doorways, she holds her breath hoping that the simple increase of her heartbeat doesn’t somehow rouse the little ones from their own needed slumber.

She pulls boots onto her feet because the winter air leaves her chilled. For a brief moment, she considers crawling back beneath her warm covers, the thought of snuggling deep down into her bed wrapping itself around her in tendrils of desire.

Instead, she takes a deep breath, grabs a glass of water, tosses a longing look at the coffee pot that she can’t yet turn on for fear of waking anyone up, and she sits down. It’s time to work. This is the only time work.

And work she does.

I’ve spent the better part of the last year watching and observing how creative women merge their art with motherhood. It’s such a beautiful, messy blending together of two callings isn’t it?

In the past few months I’ve been asked several times, “How do you do it? How do you find the time to write with kids around?”

My answer? I don’t really know – I just do it.


There are so many books out there offering tips on time management. We could all probably share the many bits of advice we’ve been given or read for building a business, generating a successful brand, or creating a successful work environment. The pointers and tips are thorough, and I’ve no doubt they’re effective.

To be a writer, you must write every day.

To build a successful brand, you need to constantly engage in your arena of expertise.

A painter needs to paint, then share her work.

A baker needs to spend time in the kitchen experimenting, developing, and perfecting her craft.

Only…what about the children?

Some of us have a few sacred moments of quiet built into our days. The children head off to school, and for several blissful hours the house is quiet. That doesn’t, however, make fitting creativity in any easier because there’s still the issue of setting the time apart.

There are always a thousand things for mom to do on any given day, even with the children in school. There are field trips to chaperone, homes to clean, meals to prepare, and a myriad other things that beg of her time.

Finding the time to create takes discipline, even when the quiet hours stretch long.

Many of the creative mothers I’ve observed and spoken with in the last year, however, don’t have those extended slivers of time alone. They’re mothers of very young children, fitting art into the cracks of their days.

They’re homeschool moms piecing creativity in the crevices while the kids are at “recess”, eating lunch, or reading a book. They’re simply fitting it in where they can.

I have a book coming out later this year, co-authored with Wendy Speake, in which we offer a glimpse into the lives of these beautiful, amazing, successful creative mothers. It answers the question “How does she do it?” but even more than that, it answers “Why?”

Why do we forgo that extra hour of sleep to tap away on the computer?

Why do we slip away each day while the children are at school and put paint brush to canvas?

Why do we study the art of photography and dedicate ourselves to capturing the beauty of the world through a lens?

Why do we find joy in helping others decorate their homes, pulling together spaces that bring joy and peace?

Because the truth is we can’t really answer the question “How” without also addressing the “Why.” The two go hand in hand, and they have to be examined simultaneously.

In this present digital age, we have the ability to enter right into the living spaces of women around the world. Women are showcasing the beauty and the glory of life and art and motherhood in their online spaces, and the picture of it all is stunning. Because the truth is, it’s all art.

Life and motherhood are simply a moving picture of art – creation – and all of it an extension of the Creator.

[Tweet “Life and motherhood are a picture of creation-an extension of the Creator.”]

So it is that in the midst of all that living and mothering, women are showcasing their art, and it is worship. Every bit of it.

So how do I do it? How does she do it? How do any of us do it?

We get up, pad across the tile floor, blink the sleep from our eyes, and we give in to the call to create. There isn’t a one size fits all formula. There’s simply an acknowledgement that this is what we do. It’s life.

And all of it is art.


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