This has been such a fun week. Since it was my first week being out of school, I’ve not had any set schedule and no place I’ve had to be. I purposely scheduled fun and relaxing things to do every single day this week. I’ve had lunch dates with several of my girl friends, met up with a brand new friend, shopped a little, caught up with folks over long phone conversations,  slept in (okay, 7am…that’s late for me nowadays) and shoved my face into lots of good books for hours. All of these things have been wonderfully therapeutic for me after going 150% hard all school year. I will miss my amazing students, but summer is here and I am so loving it.

More than anything though, I have enjoyed the various creative projects I’ve worked on this week. I made all of the invitations for our Freedom Party that’s coming up next month. It was so fun to pick out things that went together to make them pleasing to the eye. I had a blast with that. I made some more jewelry this week and started my mosaic made up of all the credit cards that we’ve helped folks cut up in each of our 6 FPU classes! That is a project that’s been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that I finally get to make it happen after years of waiting. I’ve also put together a lot of handmade gifts such as scrapbook frames and handmade greeting cards. It definitely looks like a scrapbooking convention has exploded all over my dining room table. Of that there can be no doubt.

But in the middle of cutting and gluing and sewing and tearing and matching…I thought to myself: why can’t I just do this for a living? It is so much fun. It just makes me feel….alive.

I don’t think I actually have aspirations to chuck my teaching career to make greeting cards for a living (at least not right this minute!) But saying that it made me feel alive was no exaggeration. It was the general feeling of putting my creativity to work to make something out of nothing that really got me. It’s awesome to make something functional out of raw pieces that are otherwise just lying around. Creating something beautiful out of something ordinary. I could see myself spending a lot of time doing that.

But hold up a second…with so many other things on my heart that I love to do, why do I even find these little art projects worthwhile? I mean, I love teaching. I love meeting a child who comes from a messed up family and showing them that they are somebody and they are worth something and they really can do more than they think they can. That’s amazing. My heart also burns for women and children who are caught in the sex trade, forced to do and see and hear things that no one should ever have to do or see or hear. I want to advocate for them, partner with them through their restoration, see them healed. That’s a worthwhile cause to spend my time on. I love cooking meals for an overly busy mom or an elderly couple or a person who’s recovering from surgery or whatever, just so they have one less thing to worry about. Isn’t that the stuff I should focus on, and quit sitting here at the dining room table making pretty little things?

I believe the answer is YES. And NO.

“Wasting” time on making something beautiful is like “wasting” time admiring the clouds or listening to birds sing or breathing in the smells of spring. It’s appreciating the beauty that God has given all around us and thanking Him for it. It’s worship. It’s what He made us for in the first place.

And this week I’ve become convinced that when we take this appreciation of beauty one step further and desire to experience it so much that we actually seek after things to make beautiful, we’ve partnered with God as the ones who have been made in His image. We’ve been made in the image of THE Creator, so of course we would want to take nothing and make it into something lovely. We are the created becoming the creator.

So is it that unreasonable to think that when I’m making a pretty little handmade card (that someone else will thoughtfully choose for a specific person, write a cheerful message inside of, then give it to that person who will read it, feel special, and smile!) that I’m stepping up into a moment of being closer to the heart of my God? Doesn’t the same thing happen when someone plays a beautiful piece of music, or paints a breathtaking picture, or pens a striking piece of writing,  or designs a thought-provoking graphic for a web site, or uses their hands to build something new, or plants a garden, or puts together the exact combination of ingredients to make a delicious food, or even when we tidy up our home and make it welcoming for guests? Beauty happens.

Much like the virtue of truth, beauty only comes from one place. It is a gift that has been created by God, and given to us to spread around. When we make something lovely out of nothing, God has allowed us to momentarily carry out some of His best work…creation.

Maybe this all sounds too flowery to you, and you’re rolling your eyes thinking I need to get back on a schedule and get back to business. There’s a time for all that too, I agree. But for now, I’m perfectly content to spend some time creating alongside my Creator.

How about you? Why not go ask him what He’d like to create with you today?