creative

We're Better When We're Together

So much of the work that I do on my little corner of the internet here is work I do alone. I write at my kitchen table with just the clicking of my keys for company, I wander around city streets with just my camera to scout out shots, I doodle and journal sitting on my couch with just a glass of wine by my side.

But this year, I learned something. My work is so much better when I don't do it all alone. Even more than that, my heart is better, my soul is better, my life is better when I don't do it all alone. 

It started with Rethink Creative Group back in January. I found myself on the phone with a guy who lived in Texas who had gotten connected to my blog, and he asked me to join a team of several other men who were using their creative talents to glorify the Lord and change the world. 

I had been a blogger before that, but I wasn't consistent, I wasn't very committed, and I honestly wasn't really very good either. But those guys saw potential in me, saw what my heart was after, and they invited me in to their community and I became part of their family. 

My writing improved dramatically over the months that followed, and it's because I had a team backing me every step of the way and encouraging me to grow as a person and as a writer. I wasn't just writing by myself and putting it on my blog without anyone else looking at it, I was now collaborating and brainstorming and working with other people who challenged my work and made it the best it could be.

Now, as the editor over Rethink's new blog, The Rising, I get to be part of building that community even more and taking it to new places and depths, and it's an incredible honor and challenge and gift. The collaborations of our team and all of its members, with each of their individual hearts and gifts and voices, are unbelievable and so beautiful. None of us could accomplish on our own what we can do as a team.


At some point this summer, I caught wind of something on Twitter called #fireworkpeople. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me blowing up your feed with that hashtag every week. Curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked on the hashtag one day. I was amazed at the positivity, joy and encouragement that radiated from the tweets that filled my screen.

I knew I wanted to be in this group, if for no other reason than I wanted that kind of light in my life. I joined the Facebook group and jumped right in to the weekly Twitter parties (Tuesday nights at 9 pm-- just search #fireworkpeople and join us!) 

Now, again, I'm reminded astoundingly that we are so much better when we are together. People from around the world are joining this group of talented, driven, passionate, radiant creatives of all kinds, and the community is growing rapidly. It's not surprising, really.

We are all hungry to be seen, hungry to be heard, hungry to be loved and appreciated and valued. When we are alone, nobody is there to see us, hear us, appreciate us. When we are together, when we join in, when we live in community,  we have people that see us. They hear us. They wrap us up in love and appreciate everything about us.

I'm better because I'm part of these groups. A better human, a better writer, a better dreamer and believer and passion-follower. These people aren't always necessarily like me, I haven't met most of them in real life, they aren't perfect, sometimes I disagree with them...but they're my people.

They're the ones that I share my heart with, share my words with, dream big ideas with, problem solve with, laugh with, cry with, celebrate with, change the world with. They're the ones that remind me every day that life is a beautiful thing and there is always something to celebrate, even in the midst of overwhelming uncertainty. They're the ones that make me laugh (shout out to my girl Ansley!), that make me feel unstoppable (Ashley, the force behind #fireworkpeople, is the best at this!), that free me to dream big and encourage me endlessly (here's to David, the dreamer behind Rethink!).

We are all so much better when we are together. 

In the early days of my writing with Rethink, I wrote a whole post called "Your Art Needs Other Art." I wrote these words then, and find them even more true and meaningful today. 

Let the art of others inspire you. Let it challenge you. Let it refresh you. Let it make your art better.

The work that you do may be work you've always done alone. I get that. But your life doesn't have to be lived alone. You can bring all that you are and all that you do and make and create into community, and I promise it will be for good.


If you want this kind of a fiery, beautiful, life-changing community to call home, #fireworkpeople would absolutely love to welcome you with open arms and big virtual bear hugs. If you are a writer and want to be part of a team that's changing the world for Jesus, The Rising would love to hear from you.

This post is part of the #fireworkpeople blog tour! To see all other posts on the tour, click here.

This Week's Gems: A Friday Freewrite

It's Friday. Can I get a big, loud HALLELUJAH? What a week it's been. I've been all over the place this week, getting home just when it's time to fall into bed, working long hours, spending time with awesome people every evening. My thoughts are all over the place too, but here are some things that have been meaningful to me this week. Happy Friday, friends! 

You can feel bad about yourself and the fact that you've been slacking on the gym lately, or you can suck it up and go back and get to work. I tweeted this on Monday as I was cranking out 6 miles on the bike with a very angry knee. I'm not sure why I think there will be a huge flashing sign on my forehead announcing to all other gym-goers that "I HAVEN'T BEEN HERE IN A WHILE"...but that's really what I think. Monday, I mustered up every ounce of discipline I could find and made myself go. And it was so worth it. My muscles have been reminding me all week how worth it it was. So stop feeling bad, stop beating yourself up, stop thinking everyone will judge you for skipping a few days, and just go back. Get to it. (This is me trying to motivate myself, but hey, if it helps you too, awesome.)

Gather with old friends and new ones and soak up the goodness of being together. My small group had a cookout on Tuesday after weeks of not seeing each other, and it was so good. I love being with those people, and I loved having new faces around the circle, too. It was simple and sweet and quintessentially summer-- burgers on the grill, games of cornhole, cold ciders and beers and great conversations on the patio. There doesn't need to be an elaborate plan or menu or anything, just being together and letting the night roll on is enough. Those things fill you up.

Creativity comes best in community. Several meetings at work this week were about creative projects, and the ideas that came out of those brainstorm sessions were awesome, bold, innovative. I was reminded that sometimes the best ideas come out of teamwork. One mind is great, but a group of minds is powerful. Each voice and perspective pushed our idea to a better place, a stronger place. It reminded me that the best art isn't created in isolation. We need each other.

Encouragement comes in all kinds. Texts from friends who have believed in you for years, encouraging you to do the hard things and letting you know it's worth it and sharing with you how excited they are for what's ahead. Emails from strangers around the world, filling your heart with the assurance that God is at work in the midst of all the words and the blog posts. Conversations outside of Dairy Queen as part of HOPE's young adult gathering, people asking simply "how's the blogging?" I'm so deeply grateful for every bit of it all.

"Humility births courage and is brother to the brave." -Ann Voskamp // This woman's words constantly seep deep into my heart and wake up good and hard things in me. This post was one like that.

This medleyJust listen. I've gushed about JOHNNYSWIM before, and I'll gush again-- they're that good. I'm a sucker for a killer mash-up. I love when unique things blend together in a new way to make something better than any part had been alone. This song is the epitome of that, and it's been on repeat all week. 

I hope your weekend holds new adventures, times to rest, fun with people you love, and bits of the best parts of summer. What's been meaningful to you this week? I would love to hear!

An Art Masterpiece

From far away, it's a masterpiece. From this view, this perspective, it's beautiful in every way. A glorious picture, a marvelous story. The closer I get to it, the more detail I see. The intricacy of this work of art is exquisite. Some places have huge gobs of paint where it took extra layers to get the final color just right. Some places are worn thin, like time stripped away part of the original design. The brush strokes of the artist are all over this canvas. On this one in particular, I can recognize the artist by his signature in the corner-- not bold or boasting, but there, a quiet reminder of where credit is due. It's telling a different story from this up-close angle-- now I'm getting personal. I'm seeing the scratches in the surface, noticing ragged edges and uneven lines. When I take a few steps back, it all fades to that masterpiece again. I appreciate it more now that I got all up in it. I know it's not perfect, but that's what makes it so remarkable. That's what gives it true character, makes it unique. If it were perfect, I wouldn't relate so well. I have places in my life where layer upon layer have been piled on, just trying to achieve the final goal, make things look and feel just right. There are places that have been worn thin, places where time stripped a part of me away. The brush strokes of the Creator are all over my life like that canvas. His signature is there, not yelling and demanding fame, just quietly waiting, knowing the credit and all the glory are His.

Come on now, get up close. Come on in to my life. See the scratches, the scars, the rough edges. See that I'm just a canvas at the hands of my Creator.

Friday Freewrite: This passion in me.

If you have no idea what this whole “Friday freewrite” deal is, read this post. And then come back here, and read on. If you want, you can even join in, too. Happy Friday!

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It’s only been recently that I’ve really gripped onto the idea that I am a creative, that I am a writer, that this is my craft and my art and the thing that I do. I always knew I loved it, but I never really grasped that it defined me and shaped me. It does. It molds the shape of my heart and puts a rhythm to its every beat. It nudges my thoughts into a coursing current of words and phrases and potential blog post titles and rhyming couplets and rambling lyrics. These definitions, these titles of creative and writer, they cultivate in me this thing that I can’t quite wrangle into words. It’s this thing of eyes always open, ears always listening, hand always aching to write, heart always yearning to find meaning. It’s this thing of comparison that sometimes stifles every word that might have come from me. It’s this thing of freedom that liberates my soul to share and open and surrender. It’s this thing of doubt that stampedes over my thoughts with one mighty one: you aren’t good enough for this. It’s this thing of joy that I can’t contain, this thing of intimacy with the most glorious Creator, this thing of purpose and plans and potential. There’s this thing in me, this beast, this passion. It’s my calling, I’m sure of that. It’s at times my burden. It’s at times my very breath and life. There are times where it pushes me into a dark corner, into what feels like a dead end, a place where no words come and no light is in my eyes and nothing flows from my pen. Those times are rich, even when they feel desolate. They cultivate in me a deeply rooted understanding that this is a gift, and it’s not of my own creation. This isn’t of myself. These words may come out of my mouth, but they aren’t my words. They can come and they can go. They are the words of the Author of all, and I’m merely a tool He sometimes uses to craft them and send them out. When the words come, when the ideas flow, when I sail on a breeze, light and free and full of something to offer, I celebrate. When the words are hiding, when my brain is murky, when I battle with the beast of my passion, I still celebrate. I’m a creative. I’m a writer. I’ve been made who I am for His glory alone, come what may.

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