Learning from Whitney

I have another confession. I love my bed. I love my memory foam mattress, down comforter and my super soft pillow. I even love the little blanket I lay over my face to keep out the light. (My kids call it my blankie.) Sleep is a good and needed part of our day but when I need an escape from my overwhelming life I tend to run there to hide.

It has been just over a week since we lost the talented Whitney Huston. I read many articles recapping her life and death and most concluded the same: so much talent lost too early because of life choices. One article, however, stood out to me. The journalist questioned how different are we from Whitney.

We may not be great singers and we may not be wasting away our talent on drugs but are we wasting our talent away in other ways?

My other escape I run to is entertainment. I love movies and TV. Again I don’t feel they are all bad, but like sleep there needs to be a balance. Many times I know I should be writing or caring for my house when I run to an escape instead. I am seeking an emotional retreat and although it doesn’t have the long term physical effects as drugs, it could have long term effects on my gifts.

I may feel called to write but if I never type a word can God use my talent?

What are you doing that is wasting your gifts? What can you do today to change that?

Sorry Kodak, It Was My Fault

I received my first camera at four and a half. Yes, my love of photography started young. I still remember opening the box to my 110 Kodak camera popping in the film and snapping my first photo of my sister holding her toy chipmunk. I still have that photo.

In fact, I have many scrapbooks of photos, binders of photos, and boxes of loose pictures. I probably went through over thirty rolls of film a year, always double prints. I was Kodak’s dream consumer. But I am also the reason that it is now in crisis.

None of my albums, binders, or boxes contain photos after 2004. Did I stop snapping photos? No, I take more than ever. But the truth is, I went digital. I shoot digitally, I scrapbook digitally, and I share digitally. The only prints I get are the few I place on my walls.

When Borders closed this past year I was sad. I loved going to borders. Spending time browsing, wondering the isles, flipping through books I wouldn’t normally buy. But again I have no one to blame but myself. I never actually bought a book at Borders. I went home and bought discounted over the internet.

I am not so egocentric to think that it was actually me causing these great companies to go down but I do realized that I reflect a changing culture that is bringing about big change in our consumer world. So, should I go back to buying film? Should I buy a book every time I visit Barns & Noble? No, going backward won’t help anyone.

I do need to look at what I want to do in the world. I want to write. I want to share stores that reflect the love of Jesus while touching the heart of the readers. But like all businesses the world of publication is changing and I must be willing to change with it. Perhaps, I may only see my stories released digitally. Sure I want to hold a copy of my book. But, more importantly I want others to be impacted by the words I write and if that means adapting my expectations then I will adapt.

I am not saying that print is totally going out. It may not. I cannot predict the future but I want to be willing to be ready for it when it comes. Rachelle Gardner’s blog this week speaks to this very issue.

I have found myself often wishing the digital age wasn’t exploding while I am trying to get my foot in the door. Why couldn’t I have perused my writing more seriously five years ago when I typed my first chapter of my first book? But I am continually reminded that God has called me now. God has given me stories now. God has opened doors for training now.

I don’t know the future of the digital age but God does. And let me tell you. He is neither surprised by it, nor does it scare Him. If God has called you to something now, He knows what He is doing.

Are you ready for how technology may change how you use your gifts?

Your Talent: Is It Secret? Is It Safe?

ImageI have a confession. I am an aspiring novelist. That may not sound like a great confession, but you might be amazed how many people out there have written a book or part of a book and treat it like the One Ring. “Keep it secret. Keep it safe.”

Why are we so terrified of exposing our attempts at art? Whether drawing, painting, or written art we do them in secret and then never show  anyone lest we be proven to be what we fear the most. A failure.

What we must realize is that all great authors, painters, singers, etc. all have one thing in common. They didn’t wake up one morning being able to perform their art perfectly. No matter how great they are, all began somewhere. All received instruction. And most all, at one point, had a failure.

I wrote in secret for years, telling only a few close friends. They would read it and pat me on the back but that was it. I wrote in a cocoon, as so many writers do. The problem –  In order for the butterfly to spread its wings, It first must leave the cocoon.

In the past year I have joined ACFW and Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy. (Which are both stories for another time.) But I can honestly say, my writing has grown more in the past year then all six previous years combined. Why? I am choosing to learn my art.

God may have given me the gift of storytelling but it is my job to learn storycrafting. God has given you a gift. Are you nurturing it? Or are you too afraid of failure? Reminds me a lot of the parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14-30)

What is your experience? Is there a gift God has given you but you have been too afraid to let it out of the cocoon?