An Open Letter to Refugees

Republished from www.jessica-walker-blog.com

Dear Refugee,

I don’t know if you can hear me.

I am one voice in a sea of screaming voices.

I don’t know if my words will dare to launch themselves from page to heart, your heart, but that’s where I want them to land.

The world is a mess of war, of hatred, of pointing fingers and wagging tongues.

The violent voices, scream too loudly to give way to simple understanding, wisdom so desperate to seep into their bones.

I don’t know why they scream that way.

I guess they are afraid.

But I want to tell you something.

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I am not afraid.

I am not afraid of you.

In fact, I have been taught to lay down my life for my friends.

And I think you and I could be very good friends.

And even if we were not, I would still value your life, just as much if not more than my own.

I don’t consider my own safety, not at the cost of yours.

I think loving you is more important.

And oh, how I want to love you well.

I ache to grasp your tear-stained face in my hands and look into your eyes.

You are my equal.

And as I envision your trembling and weary frame, my heart breaks.

I want my life to be a welcome mat.

I want you to feel at home with me, to find grace with me, to laugh loud with me.

I want to be a warm, home-cooked meal and a hot cup of coffee on a bitter, negative-four-degree day.

Because when I counted the cost and gave Him my very life, I gave up the right to demand my own comfort.

I gave up entitlements.

I gave up demands.

And I cannot understand the horrors you are facing right now, but I am sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am sorry that pride paralyzes.

I don’t deserve freedom any more than you do.

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And, I know that this letter doesn’t change anything, but I pray that this would provide even just one small degree of comfort to your heart, that you would feel loved by one small person.

My friend, come on in, you’re very, very much welcome.

j. k. walker

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:34

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brother, you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:35-40

Reflections From My Older Self: On Writing

Words by Kaitlyn Hiltz // Photos by Adam Dahir

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When I engage in the act of writing, it often has this interesting way of transporting me to a slightly older, wiser, more experienced, and most compassionate version of myself. In doing so, it speaks to my present persona, inspires me, and gives me the vision & confidence to be ‘her’.

[‘Her’ as in the best version of myself.]

IMG_2529I write predominantly about what I’ve personally experienced, worked through, and/or have overcome by God’s grace. However, to say I’ve got it all down to complete and unfailing mastery would be a BIG, fat lie.

And yet – I refuse to tell ‘her’ to shut up. Even if all the things I aspire to are a work in progress, it doesn’t mean there’s not enough reason to still listen to that higher voice and tune in to the wisdom she’s giving me, right now.

Ironically, we can’t always see where we’re going when we try to connect the dots looking forward. We get so caught looking ahead that we often neglect where we’re at, and even worse – we forget what we’ve already walked through. Far more often, it’s in hindsight – in reflection, that our paths become so clearly illuminated.

I don’t think giving a healthy respect to your history means you’re living in the past. Rather:

“Looking back gives us the confidence
we need to move forward.”
[Krista Williams]

What if we saw ourselves as that older, wiser persona reflecting on ourselves in this present moment?

What would she say? What would she be proud of? What correction would she give? What would you admire about her? How would she inspire you?

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I also think the beauty of being a child of God, is being spoken to as you truly are; and as you’re fully called to be.

In breaking the analogy I’ve been crafting – not only is it your older, wiser self that’s trying to guide and direct you from a place of reflection, but it’s the Creator of the Universe, who’s created and affirmed YOU, and who will always call you by name. He often speaks to us through our intuition and conscience, as they’re the most familiar voices we have. If nothing else, let this be known – we change in the moments where we encounter not just who we are, but who He is.

We are [insert absolutely anything good & worthy here], because He is.

You know those little ‘checks’ you get? The little pauses that really make you think? It’s not just your sixth sense. It’s the Holy Spirit. It’s His divine direction.

We can [and I think we should] inspire and attune our minds through the gifts He’s given us. Whether your pull be to writing, speaking, painting, coaching, teaching, listening, creating, designing, working with our hands, stewarding finances, assisting, care-taking, leading, uplifting people, etc.

In Romans 11:29 (ESV), we’re told:

…the gifts & the calling of God are irrevocable”.

IMG_2537Said plainly – He doesn’t take back what He’s freely given and He doesn’t make mistakes. The Message translation puts it this way: “[they’re] under full warranty – never canceled, never rescinded.”

Does that mean we get to just receive and proceed with those gifts at personal will? No.

So then – what is our role in the gifts and calling?

Seek first [the kingdom]. Embrace it. Be content in the in-between. Innovate. Adjust. Succeed. Fail. Learn. Do over. Be humble. Keep going. Be still.

Our job is to receive and respond in unison to what He’s creating – when, where, and how ever He’s asking us to play a role. Sometimes that might even mean doing less than we’d like.

Because when we’re not always ‘doing’, we become a lot more dependent on Him, and a lot less reliant on our own good deeds.

When I start downloading the DNA of His nature through the process of writing and reflection, any concept of my own personal production becomes obsolete, as I choose to enter His presence in the right posture.

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Personally, writing fires me up because whether it’s pen to paper or key to screen,  it’s a place I can go to experience His presence. It’s an outlet where I can witness His natural order. It’s a fluid motion where I get to experience His divine partnership.

Not a platform. Not a position. A posture.

Which by definition, is an attitude; an approach to life. And it doesn’t come from initially knowing. It comes from being in the work of. It comes from seeking, reflecting, resting, and observing. It comes amidst “#theprocess”.

God shows up when we seek Him first and He does it in ways and places we could have never anticipated. Listen to that older, wiser inner pull – because He’s with you and He’s for you.

Now and then.


Meet the Writer:
Kaitlyn Hiltz

Kaitlyn is a communications professional and the owner of kvh. creative LLC – a freelance studio providing writing, editing, marketing, & branding services. She’s obsessed with catching the meeting point of sun & ocean on the horizon, and spends as much time as possible with her family, fiance, and friends. Join in on her website and Instagram, as she writes about discovering what it means to be whole, in mind + body + heart & soul.

Meet the Photographer:
Adam Dahir

Adam is a photographer and graphic designer located in Reno, NV (available worldwide). He a strong believer that there is such a beauty in the silver lining of where photography meets passion; which is where he likes to sit. He has a consistent passion for travel and for the people that fill this world, and he can’t wait to see where he ends up next. To view more of his work, please visit his website or Instagram.

Macramé Plant Hanger Tutorial

By Rachel Dowda

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Last summer, I saw a picture of a macramé plant hanger and fell in love with it. I felt it embodied freedom, fresh air, and simplicity.  In typical, “Rachel style” I grabbed some string, looked at the picture and figured out how to make one, probably inventing my own knots in the process. I’ve never been one to follow directions, but would rather try and fail a few times. As the summer progressed I continued to fall in love with textile art, and eventually watched a few tutorials and learned some “real knots”. It’s easy and therapeutic, and I’d love to share a quick tutorial with you!

You can see more of my work at here.

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Supplies

55 ft of cotton rope, hemp string, jute, or yarn
Scissors
Metal ring (I used a simple keyring)
Potted plant or mason jar
Measuring tape and a wall hook aren’t necessary but may be helpful!

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Start off by cutting the rope into six sections, each nine feet long, and set aside the extra piece.

Line up the string and find the center.

Keep holding the center as you pull the rope through the metal ring, folding the rope in half, as shown in the picture.

Now that you have folded the string in half, you should have twelve separate pieces of equal length string.

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Next, hold the cords about an inch down from the bottom of the ring.

Take the extra piece of rope you cut earlier, and hold it parallel to the main cord.

Make a loop with the extra cord (as seen in the picture).

It helps to keep your thumb on the short tail at the top.

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Wrap the long, bottom tail around the main cord and over the loop, working your way down. It should be firm, but not too tight. Continue until you either like how it looks, or until you are almost out of rope.

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Once you are happy with how the wrapping looks, put the tail through the loop at the bottom, and pull the other tail at the top. This will tighten the wrapped cord.

(This knot is called a gathering knot, and you can watch a video here for extra help.)

Cut the excess at the top and bottom of the wrap. Your plant hanger should now look like the above picture!

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Divide the rope into four sections of three. You can put three of the sections aside.

(Some people like to tape them to the table, I just tuck them into a drawer or under something.)

(For this part it might help to hang your planter from a wall hook, or like me, pull the ring over some paintbrushes or a drawer handle.)

Hold the string to the far right in your right hand, and set it across the other two stings. Take the string to your far left, and going behind the middle string, put it through the loop the right string made. Pull the two end strings at the same time.

This is called the half square knot. It makes a pretty spiral pattern, and is one of my favorites! If the pictures are confusing and you would rather watch a video on how to make these, you can see a good one here.

You simply repeat the knot fifteen times, always starting with the same side.

Repeat the half square knot fifteen time on all four groups of rope. It should end up looking like the picture above.

Choose a group of string to do first, move about eight inches down from the last square knot you made, and make a simple overhand knot. Do the same thing to the other three groups, so they are all the same length.

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Take one of the groups in your hands, move five inches down from the first knot, and split it into two: two cords on one side, one on the other. Do the same to the adjacent group, Putting the group of two, with the adjacent one’s group of one, make an overhand knot. Continue until it looks like the picture above. This is basically making a net to hold the plant!

Gather all the cords together and move five inches down. Make an giant overhand knot with all twelve pieces of rope.

I recommend putting in a pot in at this point, and make sure it’s hanging right. If not, unknot the cords and try again.

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Depending on the cord you used, you can unravel it to make a pretty fringe, like I did above.

All done! I hope you had fun! Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time. You can simply untie the knots and try again.

If you tried to make this yourself, take a picture and post it on Instagram. Make sure you tag me – I’d love to see!

So proud of you!

Why Crediting is so Important to Photographers

Words & Photos by Lindsey Noel Roman // Republished from lindseynoelphotography.com

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As photographers we’ve all experienced it at one point or another. We are casually scrolling social media, when we see a photo of our work. Yay! We do a mini happy dance, so excited our clients are loving and sharing our work. Then we halt to a stop when we see it. Or rather…the lack of it. No credit. Our name or business is no one where to be found with the post. That happy feeling we had is now filled with confusion and I’ll be honest, some bitterness. If you’re a photographer you know the exact feeling I’m talking about.

Now before you read any more, I want to put this out there: this post is NOT meant to point fingers or blame anyone if they’ve ever posted a photo without crediting the photographer who took it. Heck, before I was in this industry I did it all the time, because I didn’t know better. And I truly believe there’s two reasons people DON’T credit photographers, none of which has to do with malice or bad intent.

1) They forget. It’s that simple. We’re human beings, and we forget things.

2) They don’t know it’s important. They haven’t been educated on the matter.

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As far as forgetting, that’s 100% on us photographers to communicate with our clients about crediting and why it’s important WHEN we deliver our images, or even better, BEFORE we’ve even taken a single photo. As far as reason number two: not knowing it’s important, I’ve put together a couple of reasons why crediting is vital to us photographers, and makes us happy dance every time you do it.

Your Photos Are Our Artwork

Imagine you’re a painter, and your work is being showcased in a museum or gallery. Let’s pretend you’re at the museum watching everyone interact with your work –  but here’s the kicker – your name is nowhere to be found on your paintings. You keep hearing praises of people loving your work, but since your name isn’t on the painting, they have no one to praise. Wouldn’t it be frustrating as the creator of that painting to not be credited for something you’ve taken the time, energy, and creativity to make. That’s how we photographers feel about each and every one of our photos we give our clients. We’ve spent hours training, learning, shooting, and editing, just to give you photos you LOVE. The biggest thank you a client can give a photographer is crediting their image every time they post it.

Referrals Are the Main Way We Attract New Clients

Relationships are the name of the game. Most people, when searching for a photographer, will go to their friends’ pictures to see who they trusted to capture their big day, before they ever type “wedding photographer” into google. Just by putting our name or website in the caption of your photos, you’re saying to everyone, “We LOVED working with him/her/them and we think you should too!” Sharing our name allows people to find us and our work that much better, because it’s honestly the number one way new clients find us.

It’s Just a Respectful Thing To Do

Crediting your photos is simply put: the respectful thing to do. Think about when you look through a magazine. Every time you see a photo, you’re going to see the name of the photographer who took it somewhere on the page. It’s industry standard to credit an artist when they’ve made something that you’re using. So yes, it’s respectful, it’s industry standard, and more than that: it’s nice, it’s kind, it’s the “right” thing to do.

It Shows Us You LOVE What We’ve Created For You

So hear me out. If you love your photos enough that you’re posting them to social media, wouldn’t you WANT to share with your friends the person who took them? Wouldn’t you be so stoked for your friends to have rad images like you do? I thought so! When you put our name in the caption of your photos, you’re telling us thank you. You’re showing us that you LOVE the work we’ve created for you, that you’re willing to shout it to the rooftops. (Even though that’s totally not necessary. :P) We legitimately happy dance every time we see you credit our name next to our photo, because we know we’ve served you well. Making our clients happy is literally everything to us photographers. It’s why we do what we do. Knowing we’ve given you heirlooms you’ll proudly show your grandchildren one day, is the best feeling in the world. THAT will always make us happy dance.

As photographers, we aren’t asking you to sing our praises in a paragraph every time you post our photos. That would be ridiculous and totally not necessary. All we’re asking is that you respect and love our work enough to share it with the world by putting our name in the caption. So simple! Hopefully after reading this, you’re a little more educated on why crediting is SO important to us photographers!

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And one last side note to photographers: give your clients grace. People will still forget to credit you. Understand that, and give them grace. Don’t be rude. Love and serve your clients hard, and they will proudly share your name every time they post your work.


IMG_2419Meet Lindsey

Lindsey is a Hawaii-based adventurous destination wedding and elopement photographer, a professional frolicker, and a frequent traveler. She is a free spirit who loves Jesus, thai food, black coffee, and telling stories. She is all about authentic, real connection and unposed moments.

To see more of her work, please visit:
www.lindseynoelphotography.com
PC: Andrew Roman >>>

Forgiveness, Fellowship & Fresh Starts

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for quitting.

I’m sorry for letting my selfish discouragement affect my responsibilities.

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I’m sorry for abandoning the greatest community I’ve ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

These words, now off my chest and living on a page, are full of vulnerability. Not just because I’m not a writer, but also because they make me nervous about the past, present, and future.

As many of you have probably noticed, there has been no activity on any of our social media sites for several months. If you would like to know why, continue reading; if not, just know that things are about to change!

Last fall, there was a lot going on in my life. After starting Artfully Seeking on June 29, 2016 so many incredible opportunities quickly arose. I didn’t realize that my small idea would touch the hearts of (and dare I say, meet the needs of) so many talented, Christ followers. While I felt immensely blessed, it quickly became more than I could handle.

IMG_2307During the month of October, I attended entrepreneurial workshops at my alma mater because I wanted to take Artfully Seeking to the “next level”. Throughout the process I was able to meet so many wonderful people and gain lots of business knowledge. Everything was going well, until I stated that my goal, for Artfully Seeking, was to become a non-profit. This turned tables and I quickly became discouraged when I was continually asked, “But how are you going to make money?”

In the midst of preparing for the final pitch, I went on a mission’s trip to Tanzania. I was anxious about leaving; I needed to plan, I needed to post, and yet, I wasn’t going to be able to do either. However, the break from the busyness of California life was much needed. I also realized, during my time hosting a VBS for missionary children, that the internet is not life and I shouldn’t get so wrapped up in it.

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This trip, along with the fear of my upcoming pitch, which included no solid ideas of how Artfully Seeking would be profitable, are what discouraged me from continuing to pursue my passion. I also came to realize, as many of us do, that I was spending too much time on my phone. From looking for artists and photographs, to messaging, commenting, and liking others’ posts, I became consumed. I wasn’t present when I was with family or friends, nor could I respond, in a timely manner, to all the collaboration inquiries I’d been receiving.

And so, to be honest, I didn’t see the purpose of spending all this time, energy, and emotion on something that wouldn’t make money. But over these past few months, I’ve realized that this movement was never about me. And it was never about money.

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There have been many people who’ve reached out saying they miss seeing Artfully Seeking’s presence online. Daily, I receive emails and notifications from people looking for ways to get involved. Our Instagram followers, number of tagged photos, and hashtag usage has continued to grow. But that’s not why I’m back.

I do not care about numbers.

Of course, the more people who are encouraged by our words and work the better, but stats are no longer on my mind. I also don’t want the main purpose of this to be money making. That is why, currently, there are no products for sale on our site. The goal of our community is to support artists and their creations. I will continue to feature craftsmen and women, in hopes that you will buy directly from them.

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Fellowship is my number one priority; the most authentic fellowship that can be had through laptop and phone screens (which I pray turns into more). I do not know what the future of Artfully Seeking looks like, but right now I want to simplify it to the reason I started this journey: showcasing and supporting Christian artists.

I may post once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a year, but I want you to know that I am still here. However, it’s not about me and I honestly hope this will be the last time I am mentioned. If fact, I get extremely shy when someone greets me as the founder of Artfully Seeking.

I do this for you.

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This is not a personal blog but a collaborative one.

I am not an artist though I appreciate art. Yet, I understand that with or without me, God is still going to use you, and the talents He has gifted you with, to make a difference for the Kingdom. I’m just along for the journey and to do my part in helping spread the Gospel.

You have been there for me and now I want to be there for you. I cannot thank you enough for your never-ending support and I hope this time around will be even more of a blessing for all of us. Together, I truly believe that we can change the world.

Written by Rachel Morrison // Photos by Carly Bell

Talk Shop with Joanna Waterfall

Written by Katelan Cunningham // Republished from Lumi

img_9616The thing that stands out most about the Yellow Conference is that all of the speakers talk in the same room. As an attendee, you experience one inspirational, insightful talk after the next, and over the two days, you’re experiencing all of this with the same group of ambitious women.

The creator of this game-changing conference is Joanna Waterfall, and she’s just as optimistic, hard-working, and creative as you might expect. While pursuing a career as a freelance designer and feeling the tension amidst women in her industry, Joanna created the Yellow Conference and it’s been a hit year after year. She’s our next Talk Shop speaker and we can’t wait to to ask her all the things about how she’s building an impactful community around her conference with her new project, the Yellow Collective. Read more from Joanna below and RSVP here.

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Photo by Cait Elizabeth

“I think it’s easy to think that when you’ve had one thing go right that everything from there will go right too.”

Why “Yellow?”

When I was thinking about what I wanted this conference to be, I started thinking how I wanted to encourage women to be like bees. Bees are hardworking, they live and work in community, they do nothing but what they were created to do. And in doing what they were created to do, they make flowers bloom, plants grow, and give us fruit to eat. They don’t even realize the impact they are having on the world, because they are just being themselves. This is what I wanted to encourage our attendees to do. Be themselves, work hard, and see the blooms spread. Bees are yellow!

Also, being a graphic designer, I loved the idea because I could see the entire brand in my head. Everything yellow. I knew it would stand out, it’s happy, positive, and bright. Everything fell together! And the domain name was available. Always a good sign.

What’s the toughest skill you had to learn to run a conference?

So many things! I think the toughest thing I’ve had to learn is that you’re never done. There’s always something to be learned, something around the corner, something you can improve upon. I think it’s easy to think that when you’ve had one thing go right that everything from there will go right too. But our world is changing constantly, and we always have to be in the know, and never stop learning. The better I can get at that, the more everything falls into place.

What’s been the craziest thing to happen at a Yellow Conference?

It’s hard to say because there are so many things that happen that I don’t hear about until later, or even years later, or never hear about at all. With 450 women in one inspirational space, it’s hard to know everything that’s happening! Honestly though, I think the craziest thing for me is always seeing how passionate, caring, and amazing our attendees are. Hearing from them how much they have been impacted by the conference, how they feel like they finally found their people, all of that continually blows my mind. I’m grateful beyond words to be able to play a small part in impacting these women’s lives. It’s surreal for me!

Who is your dream speaker?

Jessica Alba, Brene Brown, or Elizabeth Gilbert — if you’re out there, call me!!

How do you keep from getting overwhelmed as you get closer to the conference?

I constantly think about what I’m going to do after the conference. I know it might sound funny, but when I envision myself going through my day to day routines on the Monday after the conference, it helps me to know that life goes on, soon this conference will be over, and to not be overwhelmed by it. It’s easy for me to pour all of my energy into it and then completely burn out and hit a low after it’s over, because I didn’t envision anything afterwards! I keep my eye on the long term. It really helps!

Where do you see the Yellow Conference and Yellow Collective in 5 years?

I hope to be in a place where we are the go-to for creative women who want to make a difference. Where anyone looking to live a purposeful life and do it through creating a business they love knows that the Yellow Co. community is where they need to start and stay in order to make their dreams a reality.
What that looks like practically, I’m not sure, but I know I’m aiming high!

Feature image by Valerie Metz.


Come talk to Joanna about what it takes to build
a business & community. RSVP here.

934112_10151546800437648_467617516_nWhen: Thursday, October 6, 2016.

Talk is at 7 p.m.

Wine, cheese, and mingling at 6:30.

Feel free to come early and check out our HQ!

Where:
 3828 S Santa Fe Ave, Vernon, CA 90058

Hosted by: Lumi

Writing Faith

The Bible tells us that the righteous live by faith, not by sight, but that is easier said than done; after all, it’s easier to trust what we can see than what we cannot. Some reference this verse as basis for the claim that faith is blind, but it isn’t! Living by faith, doesn’t mean we close our eyes and minds to what we are able to see and comprehend; it simply means that in addition to acknowledging the visible, we also believe there is more beyond it and choose to live for and according to that larger reality.

img_9542But the truth is that even what we can see isn’t always trustworthy, mainly because we don’t see everything. Sometimes things stay hidden for a while—or forever—and other times we just stop seeing. We can be looking at a deeper truth—be in a face-to-face stare-down with something previously hidden but now revealed—and never see it, because we have allowed ourselves to believe that what is apparent on the surface is all there is to see, and so we simply stop seeing. But faith tells us there is actually more, and living by it requires us to train our mind’s eye not to settle for what is visible, but to go digging for what is hidden behind, beneath, on the periphery, or in any of the minute yet infinite spaces in between.

img_9547Consider those Magic Eye images that were all the rage in the 90s. You remember: the ones that look like random 2D computer patterns but that actually contain 3D images only visible to those who are able to consciously shift how their eyes focus (on the “distance” behind the surface pattern rather than on the pattern itself). The ability to override the eyes’ automatic focus reflexes does not always come easily; in fact, some never master it, mainly because they give up. But that doesn’t mean the hidden images and scenes cease to be there. Because they are there, whether or not we see or acknowledge them. Knowing that and choosing to continue trying to train the brain to take over conscious control of an automatic muscle function—well that is an act of faith, a choice determined by what is unseen rather than what is presented at first sight or first effort.

No, faith is not blind. It is simply a different kind of vision, one that requires a lot of intense training over the span of a lifetime. That training comes, more often than not, in the form of a choice, forced though it may be: the choice to walk wide-eyed into each moment expectant and in search of the hidden things that will eventually be revealed only after we take the step. It is the choice to say yes to the hard stuff that will be required of us in our search for those hidden things, even when we have no inkling that they even exist, let alone what they may be. Faith understands that first-sight is not only-sight and that it may not even be accurate, and it requires a suspension of judgement and a divine level of patience that bring us face-to-face with our own insufficiency.

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Art challenges our sight, our vision, our paradigms for interpretation. Creating art, on the other hand, challenges our faith. It propels us into the battle for the hidden things in our own lives. At least that has been my experience with the creation process, especially with writing. When I read what others write, I am challenged to reconsider my conclusions about life, my paradigms, and my preconceived notions about the human experience; I am challenged to see what they see. But when I write, I am challenged to see what is still invisible in my internal landscape, and then to make it visible.

Writing is where faith rules and trains my sight to see the truer realities that exist beyond, that inhabit the space underneath, behind, above, on the periphery, and in all those in-betweens.

I could easily accept the surface-level narrative offered to me for what it appears to be, but if I want the real story, then I must go to battle for it on the page. I must fight to get past what I see with my eyes to immerse myself in the vastness beyond the limitations of my human nearsightedness.

I have been told that to be a writer, one just needs to write. Write, write, write! Write what you see; write what you feel; free write, journal, jot down thoughts and half-thoughts. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or good, just get it on the page or on the screen. Exercising the writing and imaginative muscles is what strengthens them over time and theoretically equips a writer to eventually produce good content. And I agree with that theory. Until it’s time to make myself sit down and actually put it into practice.

img_9541For some, the activity of writing is more enjoyable than for others, and for some, the biggest dilemma is which of their many ideas to explore and flesh out first. I know I’m supposed to write—Pops has made that clear—but it isn’t usually enjoyable for me; it’s more like a battle. And my biggest dilemma hasn’t been that I have too many ideas. In fact, until recent months, it was that I really had no ideas at all. So making myself sit down to do it is really hard, almost scary: What if I really don’t have any ideas, and what if I can’t get any words out? Then suddenly a story appeared in my mind, and it came out fairly easily. Whether or not it is good writing is always debatable, but that isn’t really what’s important to me right now. The important thing is, I wrote something. I walked into the battle being waged between the visible and the invisible, and I won. The words on the screen document that fact, and regardless of what anyone else thinks of that story, I think it’s breathtaking because of what it took to produce it and because of the invisible realities and truths it brings to sight.

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Months passed, and then suddenly another story came—a continuation of the first one, which surprised me, since I believed the first was just a one-off. This new one was shorter, simpler, yet significantly harder to work out. Hard enough to make me cry actual tears, but important enough to the training of my faith that I could not walk away from it. So, once again I went to battle. Wounds were exposed, but safe places were also established. The battle I fought once again lives on the screen in words I can see with my physical eyes, and the victory contained therein astounds me even more than the first did.

img_9558A few more weeks passed, and again, when I was certain this sudden spurt of story-writing was still just an anomaly, Pops said, “There’s more. Go ahead, my daughter.” Only this time, I know it won’t be a one-off, and I know now that what seemed like isolated one-offs were actually parts of something bigger. He has not given me the entire outline, but instead has invited me to journey through it with Him one step, one scene, one battle at a time. And I have a choice to make. I know my heart will bleed, I will shed tears, this will hurt, and it will be hard. Do I run away? Or do I put my hand in His and jump into the vast as-yet unseen?

Writing is becoming my trust fall. It’s where I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. It’s how I learn to walk by eyes-wide-open faith and to defy the limitations of status-quo, surface-level living. Writing is also becoming my fight song. The hardest step to take every time I am beckoned back to the page is saying yes, but every word already birthed is a reminder that the yes is worth it, that choosing faith over sight is worth it.

And so I write. I write to find the life preserver, to cling to my Rescuer, to peer beyond, to defy limitations, to exercise my voice, to walk by faith and not by sight, to uncover the life of freedom I’ve been promised and live it indeed.

Written by Amber Crafton // Photos by Lindsay McMullen