When I first met my husband, he was freshly graduated from college, and he was in the prime of his glory days as a scholarship collegiate basketball player.
He had come down to Waco, TX to interview for the position of Area Director for a ministry called K-Life, for which I was a volunteer. I was nineteen, he was twenty-three. He sat with his back against the wall, a baseball cap pulled down low over his forehead, and I was immediately smitten.
Two years after that initial meeting, he and I were married. I had worked my magic and made him mine. *wink*
When we married, the only images I had of my husband were from our time in youth ministry. He was the guy who dunked a ball over three high school students at a three-on-three tournament.
He was the guy who dressed in ridiculous costumes and made junior high students howl with laughter.
He was spontaneous and funny and completely goofy, and I loved him for it.
But when we got married, he decided to enter the business world. As much as he loved youth ministry, it seemed he had some dreams outside of putting on skits. And suddenly, I didn’t know who he was.
Turns out, this man of mine had business savvy. A bit of a wanderer at heart, the business world allowed him to stretch his wings. It baffled me for a long time, because I had a hard time reconciling the business man with the basketball star. And his constant influx of business ideas often left me on edge.
Now, however, I see the brilliance, and even the creativity, in this forward thinking man of mine. And I’ve learned a lot about what it means to run a business just by watching him.
Before we were even married, my husband began closing deals not for himself, but for me. We met Joe White, the director and owner of Kanakuk Kamps in Branson, MO my senior year at Baylor and by the end of the evening, Lee had convinced him to hire me as the ghostwriter for his next book. I would end up co-authoring that book in 2004.
Lee has always been my cheerleader, pushing me to see the bigger picture of what I could do. And his advice is always the same: “Treat this like a business.”
The key in taking our creative hobby and turning it into something more is to take it seriously enough to call it a business. An excerpt from my upcoming book explains more:
Several years ago as I began ramping up my career as a writer and editor, I took on a lot of jobs without pay. I rationalized this choice by convincing myself that I needed to build a name for myself, and show that I had experience. But as the work took off it became a lot to manage, and suddenly I found myself stressed over everything. That’s when my husband pulled me aside one evening after the kids were tucked into bed.
“You need to stop working for free,” he told me as we sat nestled on our wicker couch on the front porch, enjoying the cool, September air. “If you don’t value your time and skill, the people you’re working for won’t either.” I tried to defend my reasoning for offering free services, but he stopped me, and I knew it was time to listen. My husband is a successful businessman. I needed to hear his words and ingest them.
“I know that you’re gifted,” he said. “I know that you’re good at what you do. In fact, lots of people know it. But it’s time that you believe that you’re good enough to start charging for it.” That was a turning point for me professionally, but it wasn’t easy to retrain my thoughts. I was fearful that I would lose opportunity if I started charging, and I did on occasion. Some people simply couldn’t afford to pay me, and I had to walk away from those projects. But the people who were willing to pay agreed with the value I had placed on my time and skill, and I found that working with the promise of compensation gave me more confidence, thereby eliminating much of my stress, which in turn relieved some of the burden and stress from my family who had to live with me.
Friends, God has given you talents, and with them may come the opportunity to produce a financial blessing. Undervaluing the work that you do isn’t His desire, nor does He ask us to hide timidly in the shadows as we meekly hold our wares out to a waiting world. Instead, He invites us to work hard and to charge for our services. © Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom: Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart, Kregel Publications, 2016
Taking your creative hobby to the next level requires that you look at it like a business. It’s not just “something you do for fun.” You are providing value to a world that needs it. You’re making beauty in a world that often feels like it’s spinning out of control.
Making this change from hobby to business may take some time. You’ll likely have to retrain your thoughts to see what you do not as something on the side, but as a valuable contribution.
Do you believe this? Do you see your gift as bringing value into the world?
This series is inspired by my upcoming book Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom. *
Co-authored with Wendy Speake, this book is specifically for the creative mom who wonders why on earth God designed her creative, and then gave her children. It’s full of encouragement and stories of renaissance moms who are impacting the world with their art, oftentimes with little ones by their side.
As a special incentive, if you buy your copy by the end of September you will receive a free pdf downloadable that expands more on how to turn your creative hobby into a thriving business. Offering practical tools that will help you take your art to the next level, this is the encouragement you need to move forward toward your creative pursuits.
*affiliate link included
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.
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!
Summertime is ripe for creativity. When I think of summer, I think of adventure and exploration, of trying new things, lazy mornings, books by the pool, and popsicles at all hours of the day.
Summer is for creating. It’s for stepping away from the every day mundane that dictated your life, and stepping into something new and exciting – even if only for a time.
I try to offer my children a long creative rope in the summer. If I’m honest, there are times when I wish we lived at the edge of the Wisconsin woods, but those times are only in the summer months when the Florida sun is merciless, and the flat terrain leaves little to the imagination. But then we have evenings like the one we had Friday night, where we swim as a family in the great, big ocean, and I decide Florida’s not so bad after all.
But I do long to see my kids explore. I wish I could send them into the trees with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a roll of toilet paper, and firm instructions to stay outside and enjoy this beautiful day.
I may not be able to shoo them outside for an entire day, but I can offer them plenty of places to escape. Exploration isn’t limited to the forest. It can happen right here inside the walls of our home. Here are a few tips for widening your children’s creative scope this summer.
1.) Build Forts
Basically, when summertime rolls around, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s okay for the house to be messy. I like order. I really, REALLY like order.
But I have four children, so order is a laughable concept. Instead of sweating out the ever chaotic house, I choose to embrace it in the summer. And there is nothing more chaotic to me than a bedroom transformed into a fort – blankets strewn this way and that, kitchen chairs pulled into the room to hold up the “walls” of the fort.
It’s enough to give me an eye twitch.
But they love it. Reading books is boring…unless it’s done so lying back on a pile of pillows under the canopy of a bedroom fort.
If I’m willing to embrace the chaos, a bedroom fort is a heckuva way to celebrate summer.
2.) Keep Painting Materials Handy
Like fort building, watercolor painting makes my heart race, and not in a good way. The paint brushes that need to be cleaned. The drips of paint that find their way to my countertops and floor, the gigantic “masterpieces” that I must find a way to display – it’s all stressful to this orderly Mama.
The other day, my concrete, typically unimaginative second born pulled out the paints and tore off a giant piece of art paper, and she began to create. With her tongue stuck between her lips in quiet concentration, she dove into her painting, and when she was finished she held up her paper proudly.
It was gorgeous.
There’s something very calming and magical about putting a brush against the page. When the kids are arguing, painting is one of the first activities I suggest because is requires a deep breath…and minimal talking.
3.) Read Good Books
I don’t have readers. I wish that I did, but I simply do not. My children don’t like to read books. So I do what any good mother would do.
I bribe them.
Yes, I pay my children to read in the summer, but really I like to think I’m training them to enjoy the gift of words. There is nothing I love more than seeing my kids light up over a good story. And so we spend time in the library during the summer where they’re given the freedom to choose their own adventure.
This discipline of reading is two-fold, as I must also make myself slow down and read with them. I want to show them the beauty of getting lost in story, so I read as much as I can in the summer.
As much as I love reading, slowing down myself to do so is harder than it seems it should be, because usually when they’re still and quiet, my first response is to start cleaning up some of the messes.
LET THE MESSES GO!
That is my summertime mantra.
Summertime can be stressful with everyone home at once, all the live-long day. This is where our Summertime Agenda of Awesome comes in handy, as well as a willingness to let go of my need for order and control.
A little bit of chaos has the potential to produce some magical days. I’m looking for the magic this year.
Motherhood and creativity go hand in hand. Even a mathematically/scientifically minded mother will find herself tapping into an inner creativity when her children are born.
You have to be creative to survive those small people, amen?
As we see the boom in blogging, (particularly in niche blogging), it’s a good idea to observe those mothers who have a specific bent toward creativity, and who are boldly living out their art and life in this online explosion of creativity.
The 5 Habits of Successfully Creative Mothers
1.) Joyful Dedication: Creative mothers are dedicated to their creative pursuits. They not only set time aside to accomplish their creative goals, but they actually find joy in this time spent on their crafts. Whether it be sewing, baking, decorating, writing, speaking, acting, photography, or any other creative endeavor, the creative mother finds great joy in the dedicated time spent on her art.
2.) Love of Craft: Creative mothers love what they do as much as they love their children. They live out their art boldly, and confidently share it with the world, not as a means to brag, but because what’s the point in creating something beautiful if you’re not willing to share it?
3.) Embracing a Life of Imbalance: There’s a lot of talk about a little word called “balance.” This word is often directed at mothers as a means to encourage them to remember their number one priorities (the children), and to find a proper amount of time “balance” life and art.
Successful creatives realize that there is no such thing as balance.
You cannot effectively pour yourself into your art and keep the house clean, the laundry done, dinner on the table, and everyone happy. Worthy goals will always require sacrifice, and creative mothers know this too well.
Sometimes, time spent on the art will need to be sacrificed in order to focus on your family.
Other times, you may need to make a different kind of sacrifice (either through hiring child care, ordering take out, ignoring dirty floors and clothes, staying up late or waking up early, etc…) so that you can focus on your art.
The balance is in knowing that your days will not be fully balanced. It’s give and take – ebb and flow. The mothers who are successfully pursuing their creative endeavors understand and embrace this imbalance.
4.) Refusing to Take On Guilt: Motherhood comes with a side of guilt included. Whether or not we choose to ingest this guilt, or push it away, is entirely up to us. The creative mother who decides to spend a little more time one weekend devoting herself to her craft can quickly get derailed and sidetracked if she bows down to guilt.
Guilt tells us we should be more focused on our family than our art.
Guilt tells us our family is suffering because we are being selfish.
Guilt is wrong.
Creative mothers living in successful pursuit of their craft know that it’s just as important for them to focus on their art as it is to focus on their families. Your creativity is a gift, and it’s part of who you are. To deny it would leave you lost and frustrated. This is a building block to embracing the imbalance.
5.) Confidence: Successful, creative mothers are confident in their abilities. This is not a haughty, proud confidence, but a belief that their skills are necessary and worthy to be pursued. They don’t cower in the shadow of comparison, or bow to the altar of sacrificing dreams. They believe in themselves, embrace how they were made, and share their gifts always to the benefit of others (including their families).
Creative friend, you are worthy and you’re good at what you do. As you can see, each of these habits builds on the other, and stacked together, they form a pyramid on which to steady yourself. Above all else, however, it is imperative that you remember that you are a good mother, and you have a creative bent. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can live life creatively with your little ones at your feet, and you can still prioritize your title as mother above your title of creative.
This is my encouragement to you today.