I receive emails every week asking for advice on owning an online art shoppe, doing so with children, and my journey to being a professional, producing artist...and what it takes to get here.
While I have many thoughts on blogging, social media, platforms, and all the ins and outs of running a successful online business, my heart is more in the why and not the how of pursuing a dream of producing and sharing my creative skills. Because I see the purpose of my shoppe and blog as a ministry more than I do a business, I'm driven more by the motivation and core values of running this online space, than I do the logistics. Don't get me wrong-- the how is important and requires wisdom, but I'd be remiss to not share what is at the core of why I'm here, creating.
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36
Any ability or strength we have is by him, from him, and for his glory. My life is hidden in Christ's...his perfect sinless life nailed to the Cross that paid for mine. The words we write, the strokes we paint, and the beauty we create, can all be an offering of praise...of thanksgiving to the One who gave us the delight and the taste for what is good. When I remember who and whose I am...everything else becomes much clearer.
At the end of the day, it is our treasure that will direct all choices we make. If we treasure Christ, we will see our dream/ministry align with God's purposes and directing. If we treasure self and success, our greatest guide will be pride and self-preservation. We never lose...but only gain, when the God's glory is our highest aim.
Ability, time, desire, resources, freedom, and blessing, are all factors in pursuing a dream. There is no perfect formula to the best time, place, or scenario for such a pursuit, but simply having the ability to do something doesn't necessarily mean that it is the right time or the right circumstance. Sometimes choosing good means that you forfeit choosing the best.
For me, choosing the best meant that I would put aside the pursuit of professional art and writing for over a decade while I was learning to be a wife and mother. Those professions in the home did not come naturally to me, and often felt less exciting and creative than making something beautiful for others to see and admire, but I chose to cultivate a heart and love for the creative and beautiful work that is sometimes unseen and under-appreciated within the home. I have never regretted that choice, as those years laid the foundation for our family culture, sibling relationships, and my values as a mother and wife. (Also, Motherhood has a way of teaching you to take yourself less seriously and to take all things in stride...both of which are much needed in running a business!) Those years were some of the most formative, inspiring years for my future creative pursuits.
And as it relates to #1 -- when the time comes, it will be what you treasure most that determines the course of your pursuit.
So often, we creatives look to others in social media for inspiration. We live in a time where we can keep up with what "everyone" is creating out there. It can honestly feel so overwhelming--and discouraging. Have you felt as if you have no place to contribute something new? Because it has all been done before...or because you don't do it as well as someone else out there?
Because comparison and it's trappings are always only but a few clicks away, I make a choice to not surf/follow/stalk/search out every person who is creating similar work to mine. I value fellow creatives who I have relationships with and maintain those that are genuine, but mindlessly, anxiously keeping up with what others are creating is oppressive and not inspiring to me in the least.
If you want to be inspired, look to what's eternal, lasting, true, and beautiful. For one thing, our Master Artist is beauty to behold. Sometimes it come from the hands of a peer, but so often--most often--true inspiration comes from reading an amazing book, meditating on a single passage of scripture, observing the light at dusk, or pressing a flower in the pages of your journal. Some of my best work has flowed from trying to live fuller, rather than trying to produce more.
When Troy and I were church planting, I remember someone saying to us, "You'll know if this thing is going to take off right away...There will be 100 people showing up after the first few weeks!" While I believe that is the case sometimes, I've learned that there is never a numerical measure of the value of a ministry. It seems that numbers matter so much to the world we live in: subscribers, followers, customers, readers, enrollment, profit.
Undoubtedly, numbers and the one's reach in any ministry or entrepreneurial pursuit matters, but I'm inclined to think we've relied too heavily on such numbers as mirrors. As in motherhood, doing something worthwhile is often like a marathon and not a sprint.
It is not who gets through first and with the most that wins. Sometimes there is no way to measure the full effect of your life's work...until much later in your life.
I'm working daily to set aside shallow affirmation and easily gained approval. It's not easy. The most lasting impact of our work is yet unseen if we are to be sowers and not simply reapers. Let's follow Christ's example: It's great freedom and focus to know one's calling and to work unto the Father, not being swayed by either the multitude that follows your from shore to shore, or by those who abandon you when the going gets tough.
Love to you all. Thank you for following me on this journey, and for joining me here. I pray it is Jesus you meet here day by day. I'm just honored to be a part of it all.
Because of grace,
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